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Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received regarding the arrest of the Rwandan journalist Ismail Mbonigaba; and if he will make a statement. [101026]

We received a report in January that Ismail Mbonigaba (editor of the Rwandan newspaper Umuseso) had been arrested for allegedly inciting "divisionism and discrimination" through an article and cartoon which appeared in his paper. On 27 February the Court of Appeal released Mr. Mbonigaba provisionally pending a further hearing. No date has yet been set for this hearing.We will continue to monitor events closely and to urge the Government of Rwanda to respect the principle of freedom of the press and free speech. I, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and my noble Friend Baroness Amos discussed this with President Kagame in January.