In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi King (Central Intelligence Agency). Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed and some 150,000 exiled to neighboring countries. The children of these exiled people later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990 (Central Intelligence Agency). This created tensions and resulted in a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militia, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Approximately, 2 million Hutu refugees, many fearing Tutsi retribution, fled to neighboring countries such as Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire. However, many of the refugees have returned to Rwanda. The country held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda also joined the common wealth in late 2009 and has a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 terms (Central Intelligence Agency).
President: President Paul Kagame (Since 22 April 2000)
Official Language: Kinyarwanda
Population: 11.34 million, 2014 (World Bank)
National Anthem: Rwanda Nziza (Beautiful Rwanda)
Media & Freedom of Expression Landscape in Rwanda
Freedom of expression is a limited in Rwanda and the government does not tolerate dissent. This is because of the role the press played during the genocide in the country. The horrifying effect of the genocide on Rwanda, has made government very skeptical about the works of journalists. Critics, opponents or journalists inside or outside Rwanda have been threatend, attacked or even killed. Despite legal reforms, the judiciary lacks independence in political or sensitive cases. Scores of people have been detained unlawfully in police or military custody, in unofficial detention centers, where some have been tortured or ill-treated. Dozens of people were reported forcibly disappeared in 2014. Some reappeared in prison after prolonged incommunicado detention; others remain victims of forced disappearances. The government imprisons or puts any journalist on trial for criticizing its policies for fear of genocide. (Human Rights Watch, 2011).
Rwanda’s press according to the Map of Press Freedom is recorded as ‘Not Free’, Freedom House.