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Case study

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa


Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa is an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Rwanda.  He founded and led Pan African Tobacco Group – Africa’s largest indigenous producer of tobacco products – for some 40 years.

Mr Ayabatwa lived in exile for much of his early life, returning to his native Rwanda in 1994, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power from the country’s then dictatorial government.  By then a successful industrialist, doing business across sub-Saharan Africa, he invested heavily in the rebuilding of his homeland, but was forced to flee the country for a second time in 2008, and became an outspoken critic of its increasingly authoritarian regime.

Mr Ayabatwa has instructed Brett Wilson LLP since February 2019, as result of the proliferation of false information about him emanating, in large part, from Rwanda’s state-controlled media, and, again, in significant part, as a consequence of ongoing litigation before the East African Court of Justice, in which one of Mr Ayabatwa’s companies has successful argued that the seizure and sale of its assets by the Rwandan state was unlawful.

Our work for Mr Ayabatwa has consisted variously of (i) identifying prejudicial data processing, (ii) achieving the removal and/or rectification of inaccurate or outdated information, in particular on due diligence databases (see: ‘Inaccurate information on due diligence databases’), and generally without recourse to legal proceedings, (iii) successfully asserting defamation claims in respect of false and defamatory publications (see ‘Defamation’) and, (iv) in many instances, simply providing correct and counterbalancing information on Mr Ayabatwa’s behalf.  This is a good example of the various ways in which data protection rights can be properly upheld.