Rwanda Charges Pastor’s Daughter for Treason and Espionage as Activists Call for Her Release

Jackie Umuhoza

The Rwandan government has charged the 25-year-old daughter of an exiled pastor with treason and espionage after arresting and detaining her for weeks without due process.

Jackie Umuhoza, the daughter of exiled pastor Deo Nyirigira, was abducted as she came out of a beauty salon in the Central African nation’s capital, Kigali, on Nov. 27.

After her family announced her abduction on social media, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau confirmed that Umuhoza had been arrested on suspicion of treason and espionage, charges that carry punishments of up to 25 years in prison.

In a Nov. 28 tweet, the government agency said Umuhoza was being detained at an RIB office in Remera.

Human rights activists are calling for Umuhoza’s release as she has remained in detention without having been brought before a judge.

Amnesty International launched an advocacy campaign urging supporters to send letters to RIB Secretary-General Jeannot Ruhunga calling for Umuhoza’s release.

Although she was arrested in November, Amnesty International reported in late December that the prosecution had not confirmed a case against Umuhoza even three weeks after her arrest.

“The law relating to criminal procedure provides that a suspect can only be held for up to five days after their arrest,” Amnesty’s form letter to Ruhunga reads. “Further provisional detention after that time can only be decided by order of a judge on request by the public prosecution if they find serious grounds to bring a case.”

Amnesty International contends that unless Umuhoza is charged with an “internationally recognizable criminal offense,” she must be immediately released from “arbitrary detention.”

“Pending her release, I urge you to ensure that Jackie Umuhoza’s rights as a suspect are respected, including regular access to her family, any healthcare she may require and private communication with her legal counsel,” the Amnesty letter asserts. “She must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment in detention.”

Umuhoza’s father, Nyirigira, pastors the Agape Community Church in Mbarara, southern Uganda. Nyirigira and his family fled Rwanda in 2001 for Uganda on grounds of political persecution.

But Umuhoza and two sisters returned to Rwanda in the mid-2010s after completing their education.

The family says the sisters have repeatedly been summoned for questioning about their father’s activities since 2017 and have been ordered to denounce their father.

According to Amnesty, Nyirigira has been accused by pro-government media of recruiting for the exiled opposition group Rwanda National Congress.

At one point in March 2019, the sisters were detained for one week and had their Ugandan and Rwandan identification cards and passports confiscated.

Umuhoza’s two sisters were also arrested by security forces on Nov. 27 but were released the following day.

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Source: Christian Post