PRESS RELEASE: FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ILLEGAL DETENTION OF OUR FATHER, FRANK KANYAMBO RUSAGARA
On the 17th August 2014, our father Frank Kanyambo Rusagara, a retired Rwandan
brigadier general and former defence attache to the United Kingdom, was arrested in
Kigali, charged with “spreading rumours” and “tarnishing the image of the country and
Soon after, his brother-in-law, and our uncle Colonel Tom Byabagamba, a decorated
military officer and former head of Rwanda’s presidential guard, was detained on similar charges, along with our father’s driver Sergeant Francois Kabayiza, accused of
Following a military trial dogged by irregularities and blatant contradictions that
culminated in the prosecution’s refusal to present some of its key witnesses, the three
men were sentenced to 21, 20 and five years respectively. The UN Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention has found their detention to be in violation of international law.
The human rights group Freedom Now has called for all three men’s release. “ The
harsh sentence these men received violates their fundamental human rights including
their right against arbitrary detention,” it says.
Both our father Frank, and uncle Tom have been in solitary confinement from their
imprisonment to date. Their visitation rights are at their jailers’ mercy, and were only
restored recently for 2 hours a week after the resumption of the appeal hearings, having
been terminated in April 2017.
My father is baffled by his continued detention. As an early member of the Rwandan
Patriotic Front (RPF), he fought for the downfall of the genocidal regime of Juvenal
Habyarimana and played a key role in the reconstruction of Rwanda after the 1994
He helped draft the post-genocide constitution of Rwanda and has always been a
patriot and model citizen. He believes that he is being persecuted for expressing
personal principled opinions while in private conversation with colleagues.
“The Rwandan Military justice is indeed a practical manifestation of “rule by law” not
“rule of law”,that denotes a society where laws are created to control, intimidate and
restrict freedoms in the service of the powerful,” he says.
We are particularly concerned about Sergeant Francois Kabayiza, who was tortured
while in detention and is in need of immediate medical attention.
“The Rwandan military justices’ attitude of “hear-no-evil, see-no-evil” with respect to
human rights abuses is horrendous. Sgt(rtd) Francois Kabayiza was severely tortured
and he is now incapacited in prison with hardly any medical attention and the court has
done nothing about it,” my father adds.
My father, now 64 years old, has an enlarged prostate and arthritis and we are
desperately concerned for his health. It is hard to get an accurate picture of his
condition without proper medical attention.
Our uncle had a major surgery on his back and has two artificial discs, we are
concerned about the lack of adequate medical attention.
Frank, Tom and Francois’ cases are presently before the Court of Appeal in Kigali. We
have no confidence that they will receive a fair hearing. This is based on the outcome of
the preliminary hearings where the judge denied them bail while claiming that they were not in solitary confinement, an easily verifiable fact. The same judge also went on to accept a medical report from a doctor who had never treated Kabayiza; prompting a
request for the judge to be recused. A right that has since been denied, meaning the
same judge will hear the appeal.
We miss our father terribly and appeal to the government of Rwanda to immediately
release Frank, Tom and Francois in accordance with the UN Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention’s recommendation.
Rwanda will be hosting the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020.
In light of that organisation’s long-standing commitment to justice and human rights, the
release of innocent citizens such as our father, uncle, and Kabayiza before the June
2020 meeting would surely be a timely and welcome move.
My mother, Christine Kanyange Rusagara, died of cancer in London on 18th August
2016 without ever being able to say goodbye to her husband and brother. My four
siblings and I, who are refugees in the UK, were left to grieve alone. Our youngest
brother had no parental presence in his life between the ages of 14 and 20.
Being reunited with our father and uncle would allow us to stage our mother’s final burial rites here in the UK, where she passed away. We were never able to stage these
ceremonies because of their detention.
Date and time : Monday, 12/08/2019, 12.00 pm .
For further information : please contact
Tel: +1 202 223-3733
Fax: +1 202 223-1006