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Court orders Rwanda to pay opposition leader Ingabire Shs200m

Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire (R) confers with her British lawyer Iain Edwards on September 12, 2011, in the court of Kigali, (AFP PHOTO/ STEVE TERRILL)

KIGALI – The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has ordered the Rwandan government to pay opposition leader Victoire Ingabire $61,000 (about Shs220m) as compensation endured by her family while she was in prison.

Ingabire was released in September on a presidential pardon from a 15-year sentence handed in 2013 for inciting revolt against the government, forming armed groups to destabilise the country, and minimising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

But the Arusha-based court last Friday ruled that Ingabire suffered material and moral injury as a result of rights violation.

Basing its judgment on Articles 27 (1) of the Protocol Establishing the Court and Section 63 of its Rules, the court also awarded the Ingabire $11,517 as reimbursement for legal fees.

The court, however, rejected Ingabire’s application to have Kigali clear her criminal record and a refund for expenses she incurred while in detention.

It said it was not in a position to order the discharge of her criminal record since it presupposes that the conviction had been annulled.

Ingabire was arrested in 2010 soon after returning from exile in the Netherlands to contest for the presidency.

Founded in 2004, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights was established to ensure protection of peoples’ rights in the continent. It was having its session in the Tunisian capital Tunis —as part of the rotational sitting in African capitals.

President Kagame approved a presidential order of mercy during a Cabinet meeting in September that set free 2,140 prisoners, including Ingabire and popular musician Kizito Mihigo.

“I thank the President who gave me this liberation. I would like to ask him, if it is possible, to release other political prisoners who are here,” Ms Ingabire said as she left Mageragere Prison in Kigali.

“If you see the direction of our country today, you see that it is taking a direction where there is hope that there is the opening of political space. We know that the Democratic Green Party entered Parliament, now I am released, which is very good. I hope it is the beginning of the opening up of political space in Rwanda,” she said.

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