Human rights in Rwanda

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Human rights in Rwanda have been violated on a grand scale. The greatest violation is the Rwandan Genocide of Tutsi in 1994. The post-genocide government is also responsible for grave violations of human rights.

Before the genocide[edit]

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]

Rwandan Genocide[edit]

During the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, 800,000 people were murdered.[1]

Post genocide human rights issues[edit]

Subsequent governments, including the current government led by President Paul Kagame, have committed grave violations of human rights.[2]

On 22 April 1995 the Rwandan Patriotic Army killed more than 4,000 people in the Kibeho massacre.[3]

In September 1996 Rwanda invaded Zaire, precipitating the First Congo War. The immediate targets of the invasion were the large Hutu refugee camps located right across the border in the vicinity of Goma and Bukavu, which were organized under the leadership of the former regime.[4] The Rwandan army chased the refugees in hot pursuit clear across Zaire, while helping to install AFDL in power in Kinshasa. The historian Gérard Prunier estimated the death toll among the fleeing refugees to lay between 213,000–280,000.[5] In 2010, the United Nations issued a report investigating 617 alleged violent incidents occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003.[6] It reported that the "apparent systematic and widespread attacks described in this report reveal a number of inculpatory elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide" against Hutus. The report was categorically rejected by the Rwandan government.[7]

In December 1996 the Rwandan government launched a forced villagization program which sought to concentrate the entire rural population in villages known as Imidugudu,[8] which resulted in human rights violations of tens of thousands of Rwandans, according to Human Rights Watch.[9]

According to a report by 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. Most of the killings took place in Rwanda's northwestern provinces of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri where there was an armed insurgency. Amnesty wrote that "Thousands of unarmed civilians have been extrajudicially executed by RPA soldiers in the context of military search operations in the northwest."[10]

When Kagame visited Washington in early 2001, Human Rights Watch criticized Rwanda for its involvement in the Second Congo War in which "as many as 1.7 million" civilians had died.[11]

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.[12][13] 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".[14]

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".[15]

Kagame has been accused of using memories of the genocide to muzzle his opposition. In 2009, Human Rights Watch claimed that under the pretense of maintaining ethnic harmony, Kagame's government displays "a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent." It also claimed that laws enacted in 2009 that ban "genocide ideology" are frequently used to legally gag the opposition.[16] In 2010, along similar lines, The Economist claimed that Kagame frequently accuses his opponents of "divisionism," or fomenting racial hatred.[17] In 2011, Freedom House noted that the government justifies restrictions on civil liberties as a necessary measure to prevent ethnic violence. These restrictions are so severe that even mundane discussions of ethnicity can result in being arrested for divisionism.[18]

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.[19]

Reporters Without Borders listed Rwanda in 147th place out of 169 for freedom of the press in 2007,[20] 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".[21]

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",[22] 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".[23]

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".[24]

In July 2009, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative issued a report critical of the human rights situation in Rwanda.[25] It highlighted "a lack of political freedom and harassment of journalists".[26] It urged the Rwandan government to enact legislation enabling freedom of information and to "authorise the presence of an opposition in the next election".[27] 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":[28]

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 army with a state".[29]

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.[30][31]

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.[32] Amnesty International called him a prisoner of conscience and named him a 2011 "priority case".[32]

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." [33] Foreign media connected the murder to those of several prominent critics of the Rwandan government over the previous two years.[34][35]

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.[36]

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".[42]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. ^ "Mandats d'arrêt contre des proches de Kagame", Nouvel Observateur
  2. ^ Reyntjens, Filip (2013). Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 98ff. ISBN 978-1-107-67879-8. 
  3. ^ Reyntjens, Filip (2013). Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 105–108. ISBN 978-1-107-67879-8. 
  4. ^ Prunier, Gérard (2009). Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan genocide, and the making of a continental catastrophe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 22–24, 67. ISBN 978-0-19-975420-5. 
  5. ^ Prunier, Gérard (2009). Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan genocide, and the making of a continental catastrophe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 409, note 200. Cited on page 148. ISBN 978-0-19-975420-5. 
  6. ^ "OHCHR | DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003". www.ohchr.org. United Nations. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  7. ^ "UN report says DR Congo killings 'may be genocide'". BBC News. October 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ Hilhorst, Dorethea; Leeuwen, Mathijs van (1 September 2000). "Emergency and Development: the Case of Imidugudu, Villagization in Rwanda". Journal of Refugee Studies. 13 (3): 267. doi:10.1093/jrs/13.3.264. ISSN 0951-6328. 
  9. ^ "Uprooting The Rural Poor In Rwanda – XVII. Conclusion". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  10. ^ "Rwanda: The hidden violence: "disappearances" and killings continue". Amnesty International. 22 June 1998. AFR 47/023/1998. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "Congo, Rwanda Responsible for Severe Abuses". Human Rights Watch. 1 February 2001. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "Rwanda: Police Killings Tarnish Rule of Law", Human Rights Watch, 24 July 2007
  13. ^ "'There Will Be No Trial': Police Killings of Detainees and the Imposition of Collective Punishments", Human Rights Watch, July 2007
  14. ^ "ICTR Should Address Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed by the RPA", Human Rights Watch, 2 June 2006
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  25. ^ Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report on human rights in Rwanda, July 2009
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  27. ^ "Le Rwanda, 54e État membre", Radio Canada, 29 November 2009
  28. ^ Rice, Xan (19 July 2009). "Rwanda's Commonwealth hopes dented by human rights criticism". The Guardian. London. 
  29. ^ Howden, Daniel (November 23, 2009). "Human rights concerns raised as Rwanda set to join Commonwealth". The Independent. London. 
  30. ^ a b Beaumont, Peter (18 July 2010). "Deadly attacks on Rwandan opposition spark warning by UN". The Guardian. London. 
  31. ^ "Violence rises in Rwanda as election nears", Associated Press, 28 June 2010
  32. ^ a b "CHARLES NTAKIRUTINKA, PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE". Amnesty International. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  33. ^ "2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Rwanda", United States Department of State
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  35. ^ "Murder of Rwandan banker: Police admit no progress" Archived 2014-08-09 at the Wayback Machine., The Zimbabwean, 19 October 2012
  36. ^ "How a U.S. agency cleaned up Rwanda’s genocide-stained image", The Globe and Mail, 31 January 2012
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  38. ^ a b "Rwanda: Repression Across Borders". Human Rights Watch. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
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  40. ^ "RWANDAN EXILE JOURNALIST GUNNED DOWN IN KAMPALA", Reporters Without Borders, 2 December 2011
  41. ^ « Rwanda: l’ex-chef du renseignement assassiné en Afrique du Sud », Agence France-Presse, 2 January 2014
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External links[edit]