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Mozambique urged to reveal whereabouts of exiled Rwandan journalist

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Mozambican authorities to urgently disclose the whereabouts of a Rwandan journalist and critic of President Paul Kagame’s regime who was reportedly arrested last month.

Cassien Ntamuhanga was detained last month and handed over to the Rwandan embassy in Maputo, according to an asociation of Rwandan refugees in Mozambique.

Mozambique has not denied knowledge of the arrest.

“The Mozambican authorities should urgently acknowledge Ntamuhanga is in their custody, reveal his whereabouts, allow access to a lawyer, ensure that his due process rights are respected, and prevent any forced return to Rwanda,” HRW said in a statement late Tuesday.

“It would be unconscionable, and a violation of international… obligations to hand him over to the police force of the country whose persecution he fled,” HRW’s central Africa director, Lewis Mudge, said.

“The Mozambican police should protect this asylum seeker, who is at serious risk of harm if returned to Rwanda.”

According to the Mozambican Association of Rwandan Refugees, Ntamuhanga was detained on May 23 on Inhaca Island, located off the coast of Mozambique, separating the bay of Maputo from the Indian Ocean.

Ntamuhanga, a former director of Rwanda’s Amazing Grace radio station, was sentenced in 2015 to 25 years in prison for “forming a criminal group,” “conspiring against the government or the president” and “conspiracy to commit an assassination.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the conviction as a sign of Kagame’s desire to “muzzle” dissenting voices ahead of the 2017 presidential vote.

Following his conviction, Ntamuhanga fled to Mozambique which has no known extradition agreement with Rwanda.

Rwanda is regularly accused, particularly by the opposition, of attacking freedom of expression.