British mother appears in Rwanda on state secrets charges


A pregnant mother-of-two from Leeds held illegally in Rwanda has appeared in court after being charged with revealing state secrets and other offences.

British national Violette Uwamahoro, the wife of political opposition activist Faustin Rukundo, disappeared on February 14 in the capital Kigali.

Her relatives had no idea what had happened to her until police revealed on March 3 that she was in custody, according to Amnesty International.

She will return to a Rwandan court on Monday after attending a bail hearing on Thursday.

The human rights charity said Ms Uwamahoro was initially refused access to lawyers and was not allowed to speak to her family for two weeks.

But a spokeswoman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed she was now "receiving consular support".

She said: "As soon as we were made aware of Ms Uwamahoro's disappearance we made contact with the Rwandan authorities and set out our concerns.

"We can now confirm that Ms Uwamahoro has access to a lawyer and is receiving consular support."

Ms Uwamahoro is charged with the revelation of state secrets, formation of an irregular armed group and offence against the established government or president, all of which she denies.

Sarah Jackson, of Amnesty International, said: "Violette Uwamahoro was illegally held without access to lawyers or her family for more than two weeks.

"This is an unacceptable breach of Rwandan and international law.

"People who know her say that Violette is not involved in politics at all.

"Her husband believes that she is being targeted because of his political activities.

Mr Rukundo is an activist in the opposition group Rwanda National Congress and living in exile.

The couple live in Leeds and have been in the UK for a number of years. Mr Rukundo was given nationality in 2014.