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Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza v. The Republic of Rwanda

  • Harrison Mbori (a1)
Extract

In its landmark November 24, 2017 judgment in Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza v. The Republic of Rwanda, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) or Court) held that certain aspects of the right to a fair trial (presumption of innocence and illegal searches) and the right to freedom of expression under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Charter) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) had been violated by the Republic of Rwanda (Respondent State). In its final orders, however, the Court rejected the applicant's prayer for immediate release and deferred its decision on other forms of reparation. The judgment has broad implications on how African states protect and respect the rights to a fair trial and freedom of expression. The case also offers some vital lessons on state backlash towards human rights litigation and African states’ compliance with decisions of international courts (ICs).

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References
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1 For more on the nature, strengths of, and criticisms of the Gacaca system, see Human Rights Watch, Justice Compromised: The Legacy of Rwanda's Community-Based Gacaca Courts (May 2011).

2 Articles 5(3) and 34(6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights [hereinafter Protocol] provides that a state party to the Protocol may accept the competence of the Court to receive applications from individuals and accredited NGOs.

3 Notably, this is the first use of the phrase “margin of appreciation” by the Court in its judgments.

4 Letter from Dr. Caroline Buisman, Defense Counsel, to Mr. Johnston Busingye, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda (May 28, 2018).

5 Marckx v. Belgium, App. No. 6833/74, para. 58 (Eur. Ct. H.R. June 13, 1979).

6 Zimmerman, Andreas & Bäumler, Jelena, Current Challenges Facing the African Court on Human and People's Rights, KAS Int'l Rep. 7, 47 (2010).

7 Patrick Okiring and Agupio Samson (represented by Human Rights Network and ISIS-WICCE) v. Republic of Uganda, Communication 339/2007, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, para. 139 (Apr. 28, 2018).

8 Assanidze v. Georgia, App. No. 71503/01, para. 14(a) (Eur. Ct. H.R. Apr. 8, 2004).

9 Id., paras. 202–03

10 Broniowski v. Poland, App. No. 31443/96, 40 Eur. H.R. Rep. 21 (2005).

11 Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2017/18: The State of the World's Human Rights, 315 (Feb. 22, 2018).

12 Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017: Rwanda Events of 2016, at 504–10 (2017).

13 It should be noted that communications brought before the African Commission on Human and People's Rights by Rwandan nationals can be referred to the ACtHPR by the Commission. Protocol, supra note 2, Art. 5.

14 A structural interdict is an order by a court that grants the court supervisory powers of its orders. The parties must periodically report to the court their progress in implementation.

15 “The water pot breaks at the door” is a Kenyan proverb that symbolizes someone working hard or succeeding a something but then drops the ball at a critical end point.

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American Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0002-9300
  • EISSN: 2161-7953
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
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