Human rights in Rwanda

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Human rights in Rwanda have been rated as "mediocre" by the US government.[1]

As decolonization ideas spread across Africa, a Tutsi party and Hutu party were created. Both became militarized, and in 1959, Tutsi attempted to assassinate Grégoire Kayibanda, the leader of PARMEHUTU. This resulted in the wind of destruction known as the "Social Revolution" in Rwanda, violence which pitted Hutu against Tutsi, killing 20 000 to 100 000 Tutsi and forcing more into exile.

After the withdrawal of Belgium from Africa in 1962, Rwanda separated from Rwanda-Urundi by referendum, which also eliminated the Tutsi monarchy, the mwami. In 1963, the Hutu government killed 14 000 Tutsi, after Tutsi guerillas attacked Rwanda from Burundi. The government maintained mandatory ethnic identity cards, and capped Tutsi numbers in universities and the civil service.[citation needed]

During the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, 800,000 people were murdered.[2]

Post genocide human rights issues[edit]

Subsequent governments, including the current government led by President Paul Kagame, have been accused by Amnesty International of numerous human rights violations, notably extrajudicial killings. According to Amnesty International, between December 1997 and May 1998, thousands of Rwandans "disappeared" or were murdered by members of government security forces and of armed opposition groups. Amnesty International states that the Rwandan Patriotic Army and armed opposition forces both "deliberately target unarmed civilians", including children.[3]

According to Human Rights Watch, Rwandan troops involved in the Second Congo War were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Congolese civilians.[4] At the time, Pasteur Bizimungu was president of Rwanda, while Paul Kagame was vice-president and minister of defence. In 2010, the United Nations issued a report accusing Rwanda of having "committ[ed] war crimes against ethnic Hutus" in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the period. The report suggested that "Rwanda's army may have committed genocide" against Hutus - a suggestion "furiously" denied by Kagame's government.[5]

Regarding human rights under the government of President Paul Kagame, Human Rights Watch in 2007 accused Rwandan police of several instances of extrajudicial killings and deaths in custody.[6][7] In June 2006, the International Federation of Human Rights and Human Rights Watch described what they called "serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Army".[8]

According to The Economist in 2008, Kagame "allows less political space and press freedom at home than Robert Mugabe does in Zimbabwe", and "[a]nyone who poses the slightest political threat to the regime is dealt with ruthlessly".[9]

The United States government in 2006 described the human rights record of the Kagame government as "mediocre", citing the "disappearances" of political dissidents, as well as arbitrary arrests and acts of violence, torture, and murders committed by police. U. S. authorities listed human rights problems including the existence of political prisoners and limited freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.[10]

Reporters Without Borders listed Rwanda in 147th place out of 169 for freedom of the press in 2007,[11] and reported that "Rwandan journalists suffer permanent hostility from their government and surveillance by the security services". It cited cases of journalists being threatened, harassed, and arrested for criticising the government. According to Reporters Without Borders, "President Paul Kagame and his government have never accepted that the press should be guaranteed genuine freedom".[12]

In 2010, Rwanda fell to 169th place, out of 178, entering the ranks of the ten lowest-ranked countries in the world for press freedom. Reporters Without Borders stated that "Rwanda, Yemen and Syria have joined Burma and North Korea as the most repressive countries in the world against journalists",[13] adding that in Rwanda, "the third lowest-ranked African country", "this drop was caused by the suspending of the main independent press media, the climate of terror surrounding the presidential election, and the murdering, in Kigali, of the deputy editor of Umuvugizi, Jean-Léonard Rugambage. In proportions almost similar to those of Somalia, Rwanda is emptying itself of its journalists, who are fleeing the country due to their fear of repression".[14]

In December 2008, a draft report commissioned by the United Nations, to be presented to the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council, alleged that Kagame's Rwanda was supplying child soldiers to Tutsi rebels in Nord-Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the context of the conflict in Nord-Kivu in 2008. The report also alleged that Rwanda was supplying General Laurent Nkunda with "military equipment, the use of Rwandan banks, and allow[ing] the rebels to launch attacks from Rwandan territory on the Congolese army".[15]

In July 2009, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative issued a report critical of the human rights situation in Rwanda.[16] It highlighted "a lack of political freedom and harassment of journalists".[17] It urged the Rwandan government to enact legislation enabling freedom of information and to "authorise the presence of an opposition in the next election".[18] It also emphasised abuses carried out by Rwandan troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and described Rwanda's overall human rights situation as "very poor":[19]

The report details a country in which democracy, freedom of speech, the press and human rights are undermined or violently abused, in which courts fail to meet international standards, and a country which has invaded its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo, four times since 1994. ... Censorship is prevalent, according to the report, and the government has a record of shutting down independent media and harassing journalists. It concludes that Rwanda's constitution is used as a "façade" to hide "the repressive nature of the regime" and backs claims that Rwanda is essentially an "an army with a state".[20]

2010s[edit]

In the lead-up to the 2010 presidential election, the United Nations "demanded a full investigation into allegations of politically motivated killings of opposition figures". André Kagwa Rwisereka, the vice-president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, was found beheaded. "[A] lawyer who had participated in genocide trials at a UN tribunal was shot dead". There was a murder attempt on Kayumba Nyamwasa, "a former senior Rwandan general who had fallen out with Kagame". And Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist investigating that attempted murder, was himself murdered.[21][22]

In 2011, Amnesty International criticized the continued detention of former transportation minister and Bizimungu ally Charles Ntakirutinka, who was seven years into a ten-year sentence at Kigali central prison.[23] Amnesty International called him a prisoner of conscience and named him a 2011 "priority case".[23]

In October 2012, the body of Théogène Turatsinze, a Rwandan businessman living in Mozambique, who was thought to have "had access to politically sensitive financial information related to certain Rwandan government insiders", was found tied up and floating in the sea. Police in Mozambique "initially indicated Rwandan government involvement in the killing before contacting the government and changing its characterization to a common crime. Rwandan government officials publicly condemned the killing and denied involvement." [24] Foreign media connected the murder to those of several prominent critics of the Rwandan government over the previous two years.[25] [26]

To improve the perception of its human rights record, the Rwandan government in 2009 engaged a U. S. public relations firm, Racepoint group, who had improved the image of Libya's Gaddafi, Tunisia, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, and Senegal. An internet site was set up by BTP advisers, a British firm, to attack critics. Racepoint's agreement with the government stated that it would "flood" the Internet and the media with positive stories about Rwanda.[27]

Critics of the Rwandan government dead or missing[edit]

Historical situation[edit]

The following chart shows Rwanda's ratings since 1972 in the Freedom in the World reports, published annually by Freedom House. A rating of 1 is "free"; 7, "not free".[31]1

International treaties[edit]

Rwanda's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1.^ Note that the "Year" signifies the "Year covered". Therefore the information for the year marked 2008 is from the report published in 2009, and so on.
2.^ As of January 1.
3.^ The 1982 report covers the year 1981 and the first half of 1982, and the following 1984 report covers the second half of 1982 and the whole of 1983. In the interest of simplicity, these two aberrant "year and a half" reports have been split into three year long reports through interpolation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Human Rights Reports: Rwanda", embassy of the United States in Rwanda
  2. ^ "Mandats d'arrêt contre des proches de Kagame", Nouvel Observateur
  3. ^ "RWANDA: À l'abri des regards, les "disparitions" et les homicides continuent", Amnesty International, 23 June 1998
  4. ^ "Congo, Rwanda Responsables de Graves Abus", Human Rights Watch
  5. ^ "UN report says DR Congo killings 'may be genocide'". BBC News. October 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Rwanda: Police Killings Tarnish Rule of Law", Human Rights Watch, 24 July 2007
  7. ^ "'There Will Be No Trial': Police Killings of Detainees and the Imposition of Collective Punishments", Human Rights Watch, July 2007
  8. ^ "ICTR Should Address Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed by the RPA", Human Rights Watch, 2 June 2006
  9. ^ "A flawed hero", The Economist, 21 August 2008
  10. ^ "Human Rights Reports: Rwanda", embassy of the United States in Rwanda
  11. ^ "Eritrea ranked last for first time while G8 members, except Russia, recover lost ground", Reporters Without Borders
  12. ^ "Rwanda - Annual Report 2007", Reporters Without Borders
  13. ^ "Classement mondial 2010", Reporters Without Borders
  14. ^ (French) "Classement mondial 2010: Zoom sur l'Afrique", Reporters Without Borders
  15. ^ "UN 'accuses Rwanda and DR Congo'". BBC News. 11 December 2008. 
  16. ^ Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report on human rights in Rwanda, July 2009
  17. ^ "Rwanda admitted to Commonwealth". BBC News. November 29, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Le Rwanda, 54e État membre", Radio Canada, 29 November 2009
  19. ^ Rice, Xan (19 July 2009). "Rwanda's Commonwealth hopes dented by human rights criticism". The Guardian (London). 
  20. ^ Howden, Daniel (November 23, 2009). "Human rights concerns raised as Rwanda set to join Commonwealth". The Independent (London). 
  21. ^ a b Beaumont, Peter (18 July 2010). "Deadly attacks on Rwandan opposition spark warning by UN". The Guardian (London). 
  22. ^ "Violence rises in Rwanda as election nears", Associated Press, 28 June 2010
  23. ^ a b "CHARLES NTAKIRUTINKA, PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE". Amnesty International. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  24. ^ "2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Rwanda", United States Department of State
  25. ^ "Rwanda timeline: Descent into tyranny", Channel 4 News, 25 November 2012
  26. ^ "Murder of Rwandan banker: Police admit no progress", The Zimbabwean, 19 October 2012
  27. ^ "How a U.S. agency cleaned up Rwanda’s genocide-stained image", The Globe and Mail, 31 January 2012
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Profile: Rwanda's President Paul Kagame", BBC, 10 December 2010
  29. ^ "RWANDAN EXILE JOURNALIST GUNNED DOWN IN KAMPALA", Reporters Without Borders, 2 December 2011
  30. ^ « Rwanda: l’ex-chef du renseignement assassiné en Afrique du Sud », Agence France-Presse, 2 January 2014
  31. ^ Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  32. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 1. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Paris, 9 December 1948". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  33. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. New York, 7 March 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  34. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  35. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  36. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 5. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  37. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 6. Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  38. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 7. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. New York, 30 November 1973". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  39. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 18 December 1979". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  40. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 9. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  41. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, 20 November 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  42. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 12. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. New York, 15 December 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  43. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  44. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 6 October 1999". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  45. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  46. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11c. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  47. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  48. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  49. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 16. International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. New York, 20 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  50. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3a. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  51. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11d. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure . New York, 19 December 2011. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 

External links[edit]