NAIROBI, April 25 – Rwanda has refused to renew the visa of a researcher from Human Rights Watch, the group said Saturday, warning of a new crackdown on freedom of expression ahead of August presidential elections.
The New York-based rights watchdog said that Carina Tertsakian, a Briton who is HRW\’s senior researcher in Rwanda, was informed by immigration officials on Friday that she would not be granted a new work visa.
"They alleged that there were anomalies in her visa application, specifically signatures and dates on the documents she had submitted," HRW said in a statement, adding that protests from the group were rejected.
Tertsakian\’s current 90-day visa runs out Saturday. She had been in the country since January.
"The Rwandan government’s decision… demonstrates a pattern of increasing restrictions on free expression in Rwanda in advance of August’s presidential elections," the statement said.
"Human Rights Watch will appeal the decision and continue working on human rights issues in Rwanda."
Rwanda is due to hold its second presidential election since the 1994 genocide on August 9.
The last election in 2003 was won by Paul Kagame, a former anti-government guerrilla leader who had effectively been in power since the end of the genocide.
Planned and carried out by Hutu extremists, the genocide left an estimated 800,000 people dead, essentially Tutsis.
Kagame said earlier this month that international organisations should not be "giving lessons" to Rwanda on human rights and democracy, following accusations by HRW that the government was harassing the opposition.