1 September 2009

Rwanda: German Firm Shuts Down FDLR Website

Kigali — A German firm that has been hosting the website of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel force mainly made up of the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has terminated the contract with immediate effect.

The termination, late last week follows an investigation into the activities of FDLR by a German daily "Die Tageszeitung" (TAZ).

Johnson Dominic, TAZ Africa Editor, says the website (www.fdlr.org) was terminated following a request by his newspaper, for explanations on the business dealings between OVH, hosting company and FDLR.

"One of our journalists wrote an e-mail to OVH last Friday asking them why they host the FDLR website; why they renewed the contract in May and whether the German authorities investigating FDLR have been in touch with them,"

Dominic pointed out in an email to The New Times yesterday. "Whether the company was aware of the criticism of the FDLR by the UN Group of Experts and whether they would like to comment."

"The background to this termination is that we are currently investigating the ongoing judicial proceedings against the FDLR leadership in German courts," Dominic said.

Immediately following the TAZ inquiry, OVH replied to the newspaper, in two short sentences. "We have only been informed about this client by you today. We have taken the page fdlr.org offline and terminated the contract with immediate effect," the firm's short statement said.

The website is registered in the name of FDLR President Ignace Murwanashyaka who is said to live in Mannheim, Germany. TAZ initially wanted to find out if the contract Murwanashyaka had with this company was according to German or French law.

The newspaper's earlier research into FDLR dealings indicate that the contract had been extended in May to last until 2011. "Normally, companies check the content of the websites they are hosting at the moment they are extending contracts.

I asked them (OVH) if they did so and if they know what person this customer is,' TAZ reporter who investigated the issue told The New Times.

"Later I explained to them in an email that Ignace is the leader of FDLR and that there was court case in Germany against him and that the FDLR seems to be responsible for human rights violations in Central Africa," the reporter said.

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