, NAIROBI, Aug 6 – Amnesty International has called on Rwanda to take steps to reverse a climate of fear that is looming over next week\’s presidential election, in a statement on its website on Friday.
President Paul Kagame is tipped to win re-election on Monday, but attacks on journalists and opposition parties have aroused concerns for human rights in the central African nation still haunted by memories of a 1994 genocide.
"In recent months killings, arrests and the closure of newspapers and broadcasters had reinforced a climate of fear," Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty\’s Africa programme, said in a statement.
"The Rwandan government must ensure that investigations into the killings are thorough and reinstate closed media outlets," he said.
The murders of journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage in June and opposition politician Andre Kagwa Rwisereka in July — in which the Rwandan authorities deny any involvement — have "created a climate of repression likely to inhibit freedom of expression ahead of the vote," Hondora added.
Amnesty also condemned the June arrest of opposition leader Bernard Ntaganda on charges of "genocide ideology" and "divisionism" under what it called "vague laws" designed to repress dissent.
And it appealed to more countries to join the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, France and Spain to express concern about human rights in Rwanda ahead of the vote.
"Speaking out about violations is the best way to ensure that the next Rwandan administration respects human rights," Hondora said.