Exiled pastor's daughter arbitrarily detained

Jackie Umuhoza
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Who is Jackie Umuhoza?

Jackie Umuhoza is the daughter of the exiled Rwandan pastor, Deo Nyirigira. Jackie’s father is the pastor of Agape Community Church in Mbarara, Uganda. Jackie and her family left Rwanda for Uganda in 2001, claiming they faced persecution in their home country. Jackie and her sisters Lilian Umutoni and Axelle Umutesi returned to Rwanda separately between the years 2013 – 2016 after completing their university educations.

Jackie was arrested in the Rwandan capital city, Kigali, on the morning of 27 November 2019. News of Jackie’s arrest was not confirmed by authorities until after her friends and family brought attention to her arrest on social media. After receiving social media pressure, Rwandan officials confirmed that Jackie had been arrested on suspicion of treason and espionage. These charges carry sentences of up to 25 years imprisonment.

Jackie’s sisters were both arrested on the evening of Jackie’s arrest. Lilian and Axelle were detained overnight and released the following day. Jackie remains in custody.

The public prosecution has still not confirmed a case against Jackie, and she has not been brought before a judge. According to Rwandan law, a suspect can only be held for up to five days after their arrest. After this time, they must be brought before a judge. Only a judge can give order to extend a suspect’s provisional detention, if the public prosecution provides serious grounds to bring a case against them.

According to their family, Jackie and her sisters have been repeatedly summoned for questioning about their father’s activity since late 2017. All three sisters were arrested and detained for one week in March 2019. During their detention their Ugandan national identity cards and passports were confiscated, as well as their Rwandan national identity cards and passports, which were retained in 2018.  

Recently, pro-government media outlets have been accusing Jackie’s father of recruiting for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) – an opposition group in exile.

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