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Rights Body Calls for Independent Investigations into Kizito Mihigo’s Death

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has Wednesday called for an assurance from Rwandan authorities of an independent inquiry into the death of Kizito Mihigo.

Mihigo, a popular Rwandan gospel singer and government critic, was found dead in police custody on Monday.

“An impartial and independent inquiry is needed in accordance with procedure established by law,” said Alison Duxbury, Chairperson of CHRI’s International Advisory Commission, pointing to Rwanda’s obligations under Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The request comes at the time when Rwanda is set to host the Common Wealth Heads State Meeting in June and independent investigation would help clean the country name.

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While noting that the Rwandan government is awaiting the conclusion of a post-mortem before confirming its initial reports of suicide, CHRI called for the conduct of a full and independent inquiry into the circumstances leading to his death.

“Time is of the essence so that valuable evidence is not lost and that the investigation meets the ends of substantive justice”, said Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director of CHRI.

According to police statement he had been in police custody for three days and was facing several charges inc luding conspiracy to join terror and rebel group

A devout Catholic known for songs promoting healing and forgiveness and the country’s biggest cultural icon, Mihigo was re-arrested last week reportedly trying illegally cross into Burundi.

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Rwanda investigations Bureau tweeted on February 13 that the country’s security organs had handed over Mihigo to them, adding Mihigo’s charges included to illegally cross to Burundi, joining terrorist groups and corruption.

“An impartial and independent inquiry is needed in accordance with procedure established by law,” said Alison Duxbury, Chairperson of CHRI’s International Advisory Commission, pointing to Rwanda’s obligations under Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Mihigo was in April 2014 arrested and in 2015 convicted after pleading guilty to a plot to kill President Paul Kagame and other top government officials. In 2015 court sentenced 10 years imprisonment.

He was also accused of involvement in activities aimed at destabilising the country and forming alliances with outlawed groups including the exiled opposition group, Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and rebel outfit in DR Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Mihigo was sentenced together with co-accused and radio journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Authorities said Ntamuhanga escaped the jail and fled the country in 2017.

During the trail, Mihigo pleaded guilty to all charge hence a lenient sentence because he pleaded guilty from the outset and made the court’s work easy.

He was pardoned in 2018 by Kagame alongside Rwandan leading opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and other 2000 prisoners.

But last week, Rwanda police said his attempt to escape constitutes a breach of conditions set in the Presidential Order, exercising the prerogative of Mercy leading to the revocation of the Presidential.

Prior to his arrest in 2014 Kizito Mihigo 38, a Tutsi survivor of the genocide that killed more than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus was a renowned young peace and reconciliation activist as well as a musician.

His work was through his charity ‘’Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation’’ transformed lives of people in Rwanda, particularly prisoners and victims of genocide.

Kizito has also become popular as results composing songs that vehicle messages of peace, love and reconciliation. Kizito songs and work under his foundation had been powerfully driven by his strong Christian values and believes

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