• World - Africa
  • Updated: January 31, 2023

Rwanda: Rights Groups Calls For Probe Into Death Of Journalist

Rwanda: Rights Groups Calls For Probe Into Death Of Journali

Deceased Journalist, John Williams Ntwali.

Dozens of rights and media groups urged Rwanda on Tuesday to conduct an independent and impartial probe into the death of a top journalist who was critical of the government.

The Chronicles newspaper's editor, John Williams Ntwali, 44, was murdered on January 18 when a speeding car struck the motorcycle he was pillion riding.

Ntwali, a journalist who had been detained several times throughout his two-decade career, was the owner of the Pax TV YouTube channel, which had become a coveted platform for critical reporting in Rwanda.

“Rwandan authorities should allow an independent, impartial and effective investigation, drawing on international expertise,” the 90 civil society organisations and media associations said in a joint statement.

“Rwanda’s international partners should press the authorities to allow and cooperate fully with such an investigation,” said the statement, which was issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In Rwanda, where the media is strictly regulated, journalists who have been critical of the president and his governing party, Paul Kagame, have been imprisoned, vanished, or been found dead during his almost 30-year rule.

The motorist allegedly responsible for Ntwali's death is being held in jail.

“However, two weeks after the alleged accident, Rwandan authorities have failed to provide a police report, the exact location of the alleged accident, any photo or video evidence, or detailed information on the others involved,” the joint statement said.

Asked about the investigation, Rwandan police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told AFP: “Ntwali’s accident case file was transmitted to the prosecution. We can no longer comment on it.”

Yolande Makolo, a government spokesperson, said earlier this month that eight Rwandans had perished in motorbike taxi accidents just this month.

“Groundless insinuations don’t help. Let the accident investigators do their work,” she said.

According to HRW, Ntwali frequently received threats and abuse for his investigative work in media outlets that support the government.

It stated that he was one of the only journalists reporting high-profile, politicized trials of journalists, pundits, and opposition members independently and sharing footage concerning their detention circumstances.

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