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Rwanda: Authorities Bar Journalist from Travel to the UN Internet Governance Forum
In response to the Rwandan authorities’ preventing the editor of the online news outlet Great Lakes Voice, Bob Mugabe, from leaving the country to participate in the 2017 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, a key United Nations gathering on internet-related issues, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“While the international community is gathered in Geneva to discuss policies that will shape the internet and our digital future, the Rwandan government prevented Bob Mugabe from attending the IGF, holding him at the airport and interrogating him for four hours about his human rights work,” said Sanja Kelly, director of the Freedom on the Net project at Freedom House. “The authorities who questioned him accused him of ‘working against the state, treason and spreading rumors to undermine the state,’ all because of his of critical reporting published online, previous meetings at the UN Human Rights Council, and other human rights activities. Given the government’s record of taking arbitrary measures against human rights defenders and independent voices in the country, Mr. Mugabe risks being charged for treason simply for reporting on and voicing his criticism of Rwanda’s human rights record. The UN and the IGF Secretariat should urge the Rwandan government to end its arbitrary investigations of Mugabe and immediately lift the travel ban against him.”
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.