British citizen Violette Uwamahoro is in police custody in Rwanda, officials say, in the first word of her since she went missing from a bus stop in Kigali more than two weeks ago.
The 39-year-old Uwamahoro, a dual citizen and native of Rwanda, left her husband and two children in Leeds to attend her father’s funeral, British media report. Her phone went dead shortly after arrival.
She is married to Faustin Rukundo, a political opponent of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and active member of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an opposition group in exile. Her disappearance raised fears that she was detained by Rwandan authorities for political reasons – fears that have now been realized, say those who demanded to know where she is and insist on her right to legal process.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that they have got her,” Rukundo had told reporters, adding that he urged her not to go because of concerns that a politically motivated incident was possible.
“I do politics,” he said. “For them, that is enough. That’s the only reason.”
Rwandan police confirmed to local media outlet KT Press on Friday that Uwamahoro “was apprehended by Rwanda National Police (RNP) based on a tip off that she is involved in criminal dealings constituting serious crimes, including attempts to recruit people into a criminal network.”
The UK High Commission in Kigali has been informed of the detention, police said. They added that they may request assistance from the British government to “investigate additional individuals belonging to the same network in the UK, based on credible evidence we currently have.”
The Human Rights Watch organization said under Rwandan law, all detainees have the right to be informed of charges against them, to contact their family and lawyer, and to have their detention reviewed by a judge. HRW said Uwamahoro’s arrest is similar to other “disappearances” in Rwanda in recent years.