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Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Seeks Justice at the East African Court of Justice to Restore Her Civic Rights

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Mbeki edmond

May 2, 2024

Press Release by Victoire Ingabire

FILE - Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza poses at her home, April 07, 2010, in Kigali, Rwanda

In a significant legal move, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a prominent Rwandan political figure, filed a case against the Rwandan State at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on April 30, 2024. This legal action aims to challenge the denial of her civic rights by the Rwandan authorities, a crucial step towards her intention to participate in the upcoming Presidential elections in Rwanda this July.


Ms. Ingabire, who returned to Rwanda in January 2010 from the Netherlands to contest in that year's presidential elections, faced immediate arrest and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison. Her trial was widely criticized internationally as being politically motivated. She was partially vindicated when the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights found that Rwanda had violated her rights to freedom of expression and a defense.


Following a Presidential pardon in September 2018, after eight years behind bars, Ms. Ingabire’s recent attempt to restore her civic rights was blocked by the Rwandan High Court in March 2024. This ruling prevented her from traveling outside Rwanda and from registering as a presidential candidate, further stymying her participation in political life—a violation of the East African Community Treaty’s stipulations on democracy, rule of law, and human rights.


Ms. Ingabire’s legal team, comprising Rwandan lawyer Gatera Gashabana and Kenyan lawyers Emily Osiemo and Elisha Ongoya, along with international lawyers Kate Gibson, Sheila Paylan, Philippe Larochelle, and Iain Edwards, have filed for urgent interim measures. These measures are critical to prevent irreparable harm that would result from her inability to register for the upcoming elections.


Furthermore, Ms. Ingabire has also been restricted from leaving the country, which has notably prevented her from attending significant family events, including her son's wedding, the birth of her grandchild, and visiting her critically ill husband in the Netherlands.


The legal proceedings initiated by Ms. Ingabire Umuhoza at the EACJ represent not only her fight for personal justice but also underscore a broader struggle for democratic freedoms and human rights in Rwanda. Supporters and human rights advocates around the world watch closely, hoping this case will mark a turning point towards greater political openness and respect for human rights in Rwanda.

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