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APO International

Kenya and Rwanda must provide information about disappeared human rights defender: Special Rapporteur

todayJuly 11, 2024 5

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The abduction and enforced disappearance of Rwandan human rights defender Yusuf Ahmed Gasana from Kenya and his alleged extraordinary rendition to Rwanda a year ago must not remain unsolved, an independent expert said today.

“I have written to both the Kenyan and Rwandan Governments for urgent information on his fate, whereabouts and well-being,” said Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.

On 30 May 2023, Gasana was abducted from his home in Nairobi by unidentified persons and forcibly disappeared. On reporting his disappearance to the Kenyan authorities, Gasana’s family received no response. Under its urgent humanitarian procedure, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances raised his case with the Government of Kenya and in its report to the Human Rights Council in September 2023, stating that Gasana’s abduction and enforced disappearance are believed to have been carried out by State agents.

“It is especially alarming that the unknown people who abducted and forcibly disappeared Mr. Gasana from his home are suspected of being Kenyan State agents,” Lawlor said.

“Mr. Gasana’s family need answers from the Kenyan authorities, who must investigate the incident immediately and reveal his fate and whereabouts.”

Gasana is a member of a community-based refugee organisation in Nairobi which advocates against the involuntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees.

Between September 2023 and March 2024, Gasana’s family heard from informal sources that he was being held in a secret detention facility in Rwanda with several other people who were yet to be charged. It is believed that Gasana may have been viewed with suspicion over his claims that Rwanda was not a safe country for repatriation.

“I strongly urge authorities in Rwanda to verify reports of his detention, make known to his family his fate and whereabouts and ensure his safety,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“Both countries are bound by the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and obligations to promptly investigate, search for the disappeared person and hold those responsible for these crimes accountable,” she said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).


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