Amnesty slams 'vague' Rwandan 'genocide ideology' laws

31st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rwanda's new government must urgently review their "vague 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws", which are being used to suppress political dissent, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

The London-based human rights group said in a report the loose wording was being misused to criminalise criticism of the government and legitimate opposition.

"The ambiguity of the 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws mean Rwandans live in fear of being punished for saying the wrong thing," said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Programme director at Amnesty International.

"Most take the safe option of staying silent."

Amnesty said many Rwandans -- lawyers included -- were unable to define "genocide ideology", while judges had called the law broad and abstract.

Amnesty said the Rwandan government had announced a review of the laws in April.

"We hope that the government review will result in a meaningful revision of the 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws so that freedom of expression is protected both on paper and in practice," Van der Borght said.

Carried out by ethnic Hutu extremists, the genocide of April to July 1994 claimed almost 800,000 lives, mostly those of minority Tutsis, according to United Nations figures.

© 2010 AFP

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