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In a Disappointing Decision, the African Court Refuses to Address Rwanda’s Dangerous and Systematic Interference with Human Rights Organizations

Advocates vow to keep fighting for justice as civic space continues to shrink in Rwanda and around the globe.

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In a troubling turn of events in the global struggle to protect civic spaces, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“The African Court”) recently declined to hear the merits of a case challenging the illegal takeover by the Rwandan State of one of the last independent human rights organizations in the country, known by its French acronym, LIPRODHOR (Ligue rwandaise pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l’Homme). With government attacks on civil society, including human rights defenders, rising worldwide, the African Court missed a crucial opportunity to protect and promote freedom of association for Rwandans and to set a clear precedent for all Africans.

“At a time when governments across the continent are actively working to stifle dissent, repress active civic engagement, and quell opposition, the LIPRODHOR case typifies both this worrying trends and civil society’s resolute response to ardently protect civic spaces through all legal means available,” said Alice Mogwe, FIDH President. “Despite this setback, we will continue to pursue justice in the interest of civil society in Africa.”

The LIPRODHOR case (Appl.023/2015 Laurent Munyandilikirwa v. Republic of Rwanda) is a widely publicized and well-documented example of the Rwandan government's systematic attacks on civil society, including human rights defenders and any dissident