Rwanda frees prisoners
One of Rwanda’s most prominent opposition leaders walked free from jail yesterday after the government approved the early release of more than 2,100 prisoners with little explanation.
Victoire Ingabire’s release surprised many in the capital, Kigali, as it is unusual for the longtime president, Paul Kagame, to pardon potential challengers. She quickly urged Kagame to release all other political prisoners.
Ingabire, head of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party, was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of conspiracy to undermine the government and denying Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, charges that she denied. She was sentenced to 15 years.
Human Rights Watch, which has expressed concern that the government uses accusations of “genocide ideology” as a way to silence critics, called the charges politically motivated.
Ingabire had criticised the government ahead of the 2010 presidential election.
Rwanda’s government has long been accused by rights groups of suppressing the opposition and having a justice system that lacks independence.