Rwanda: Global Playbook of Abuse to Silence Critics

(New York, October 10, 2023) – Rwandan authorities and their proxies are using violence, judicial mechanisms and intimidation to try to silence criticism from Rwandans living around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report published today. The moves aim to preserve Rwanda’s coveted image, quash dissent that could emerge from abroad, and reinforce a chilling message of the price to be paid to critics within the country.

In the 99-page report, “Join Us or Die: Rwanda’s Extraterritorial Repression,”  Human Rights Watch documents a wide array of tactics that, when used together, form a global ecosystem of repression, aimed not only to muzzle dissenting voices but to scare off potential critics. The combination of physical violence including killings and enforced disappearances, surveillance, misuse of law enforcement – both domestic and international – abuses against relatives in Rwanda, and the reputational damage through online harassment constitute clear efforts to isolate potential critics.