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- AS Foundation Founder, Webmaster, Editor-in-chief and Publisher. Search and meet Libre Penseur, the Man who stands firm on his priniciples. I am working for a pro-peace humanitarian organization with no political agenda. Make your voice heard around the globe. You think it, you write it. Dear SurViVors: Nobody’s going to help you. It’s all up to you. Make it happen for yourself. However, there's a common knowledge to remember : "No man is an island". Will be possible for me to realize my dream and say : *.*The war is over, the hunting trip on Hutus comes to an end, the Evil is taken away, the reign of Terror comes to an end in Rwanda, my beloved homeland. As we stand on the precipice of Paul Kagame war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide, call on the Regime change in Rwanda. Will you just sit back and watch Paul Kagame destroying the Human kind or will you stand up with African SurViVors and make your voice heard? Nothing is said about Kagame's arrest. Many are asleep, wrapped up their day to day lives. However, if and if you are awake, it is your responsibility to wake others! Spread the word, Ask for Paul Kagame's removal and indictment, take action.*.*
Paul Kagame admits ordering...
Ways To Get Rid of Kagame
- The people should overthrow the Rwandan dictator (often put in place by foreign agencies) and throw him, along with his henchmen and family, out of the country – e.g., the Shah of Iran, Marcos of Philippines.Compaore of Burkina Faso
- Rwandans organize a violent revolution and have the dictator killed – e.g., Ceaucescu in Romania.
- Foreign powers (till then maintaining the dictator) force the dictator to exile without armed intervention – e.g. Mátyás Rákosi of Hungary was exiled by the Soviets to Kirgizia in 1970 to “seek medical attention”.
- Foreign powers march in and remove the dictator (whom they either instated or helped earlier) – e.g. Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Manuel Noriega of Panama.
- The dictator kills himself in an act of desperation – e.g., Hitler in 1945.
- The dictator is assassinated by people near him – e.g., Julius Caesar of Rome in 44 AD was stabbed by 60-70 people (only one wound was fatal though).
- Organise strikes and unrest to paralyze the country and convince even the army not to support the dictaor – e.g., Jorge Ubico y Castañeda was ousted in Guatemala in 1944 and Guatemala became democratic, Recedntly in Burkina Faso with the dictator Blaise Compaoré.
Breaking the silence on these RPF crimes.
Does the Holy See closely work with RPF criminals and Terrorists? If not, why then The Holy See keep silence about the RPF criminals impunity?
Many of the Rwandan survivors particularly most of the Holy Catholic Church believers, Catholic clerical organizations and Catholic seminary students await an impartial justice. The entire world know that the RPF investigations were buckled to whitewash RPF crimes authors and the result should not impress. Have a look at Tito Rutaremara as a head of the RPF Nazi ideologues and the brain behind the RPF crimes of the widest variety imaginable.
The RPF big fishes and other RPF criminals (most of them belong to the RPF military or leadership beginning with Paul Kagame the RPF Chairman and military Commander) remain at large and therefore do not cease puffing out the small ones distroying consciously the Rwandan Nation. Most of Rwandan survivors wonder until when Americans and British administrations will continue to cover criminals and terrorists of the RPF-Inkotanyi Organization. The RPF terrorists and their deadly methods continue to evolve.
Even after the Spanish Judge made investigations and issued the arrest warrants, there is sufficient evidence for prosecution. In this context, the UN security Council, the ICTR and The Holy See should cooperate and help the Spanish Judge to prosecute RPF suspects, in accordance with international law.
No American President or citizen and no British Prime Minister or citizen has harmed more the interests of their own countries than the present ones including Bill Clinton and Tony Blair the current Kagame's advisor, they need not escape accountability.
Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, that American and British adminstrations continue to fuel and feed up RPF crimes and terrorism, crimes that are not only extremely dangerous and frightening to the world community, but also are an affront to the conscience of humanity worldwide. You can fool some people some time, you even can fool all the people some time, but cannot fool all the people all the time. Here above Gen. Karenzi, another mastermind of the Rwanda genocide.
The killing of priests, nuns, altar servers and civilians, the sheer devastation of the majority administration legacy, instability created since 1990, crimes committed in february 1993, Kibeho crimes, the awful crimes committed against Hutu refugees from 1996 up to 1998, the irreplaceable lost (through looting and destruction) of ancient artifacts, books, manuscripts, artwork, sculptures, etc., that goes back 30 years since the independance of Rwanda in 1962 on one hand, and the international havoc and global peace peril created during the past 15 years of RPF rule and dictatorship that will continue to reverberate for many, many years to come on the other hand, represent unmistakably War crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, Gendercide,and Crimes of genocide against the majority of the Rwandan population. General Ibingira the Terminator of Kibeho Massacres.
The current British administration inspired by the former British Prime minister Tony Blair and now the Rwandan Nazi advisor must face criminal accountability under the existing British laws of the Great Britain and of the International law.
The horror of the RPF killing machine is illustrated by the cooperation of the Pentagon, the CIA and of Paul Kagame. Here below is one of their main work in the widest variety imaginable.
These Catholic Church servers certainly disserve a descent resting in their motherland. They were thrown into the commun graves in the bush or near small paths or into toilets. They were arbitrary shot by those RPF liberators sent by the Strategist General Paul Kagame. All Rwandan Survivors, urge the worldwide Human rights activists, the Human Rights advocate organizations, The Holy See, the US President Barak Obama and Goldon Brown the British Prime minister to turn their administrations' attention on the fact that they must pressure on Kagame, their Backed bloody Dictator to allow the burial of these God's servers of the Holy Catholic Church and oust
Rwandan Bishops and Priests assassinated by the RPF under General Paul Kagame's High Command
1-Mgr. Vincent Nsengiyumva, archbishop of Kigali
2-Mgr. Thaddee Nsengiyumva, bishop of Kabgayi
3-Mgr.Joseph Ruzindana, bishop of Byumba
4-Mgr. Phocas Nikwigize, bishop of Ruhengeri ( reportedly disappeared 30.nov.1996)
1-Mgr. Innocent Gasabwoya, former vicar general of Kabgayi
2-Mgr. Felix Kabayiza, former vicar of Kigali Archdiocese
3-Mgr. Louis Gasore ,former vicar general of Nyundo
Priests of Kigali Diocese:
1-Abbot Joseph Harelimana
2-Abbot Ananie Rugasira
3-Abbot Canisius Ndekezi
4-Abbot Alexandre Ngeze
Priests of Butare Diocese:
1-Abbot Firmin Butera
2-Abbot Justin Furaha
3-Abbot Isaie Habakurama
4-Abbot Fidele Hakizimana
5-Abbot Etienne Kabera
6-Abbot Alexis Kayumba
7-Abbot Francois Munyangabe
8-Abbot Christophe Munyampanzi
9-Abbot Felicien Muvara
10-Abbot Charles Ncogoza
11-Abbot Mathieu Ngirumpatse
12-Abbot Francois Ngomirakiza
13-Abbot Callixte Nkeshumpatse
14-Abbot Augustin Nkurikiyumukiza
15-Abbot Second Ntibaziga
16-Abbot Innocent Nyangezi
17-Abbot Tharcisse Rubingiza
18-Abbot Jean Bosco Yirirwahandi
19-Abbot Pascal Yirirwahandi
20-Abbot Boniface Musoni
21-Abbot Jean Ntiyamira
22-Abbot Vital Rutayire
23-Abbot Jean Semuliro
Priests of Byumba Diocese:
1-Abbot Thaddee Cyiza
2-Abbot Alexis Havugimana
3-Abbot Joseph Hitimana
4-Abbot Augustin Mashyenderi
5-Abbot Gaspard Mudashimwa(Grand Father)
6-Abbot Ladislas Muhayemungu
7-Abbot P.Celestin Muhayimana
8-Abbe Fidele Mulinda
9-Abbe Faustin Mulindwa
10-Abbot Denys Mundayarwo
11-Abbot Mathias Nabuzehose
12-Abbot Christian Nkiriyehe
13-Abbot Athanase Nkundabanyanga
Priests of Cyangugu Diocese:
1-Abbot Joseph Boneza
2-Abbot Ignace Mubashankwaya
Priests of Gikongoro Diocese:
1-Abbot Straton Gakwaya
2-Abbot Boniface Kanyoni
3-Abbot Canisius Mulinzi
4-Abbot Aloys Musoni
5-Abbot Pierre Ngoga
6-Abbot J.M.Vianney Niyirema
7-Abbot Joseph Niyomugabo
8-Abbe Irene Nyamwasa
9-Abbot Alfred Nzabakurana
10-Abbot J.M.Vianney Rwanyabuto
11-Abbot J.M.Vianney Sebera
12-Abbot Callixte Uwitonze
Priests of Kabgayi Diocese:
1-Abbot Fidele Gahonzire
2-Abbot Tharcisse Gakuba
3-Abbot Alfred Kayibanda
4-Abbot Alphonse Mbuguje
5-Abbot F.Xavier Muligo
6-Abbot Callixte Musonera
7-Abbot Sylvestre Ndabiretse
8-Abbot Jeremie Nduwabike
9-Abbot P.Celestin Niwenshuti
10-Abbot Pie Ntahobari
11-Abbot Bernard Ntamugabumwe
12-Abbot J.M.Vianney Rusingizandekwe (Former spirtual Priest of Gregoire Kayibanda)
13-Abbot Jean Baptiste Ruzigana
14-Abbot Francois Twagirimana
15-Abbot Uwimana Emmanuel
17-Abbot Miche Gigi
Priests of Kibungo Diocese:
1-Abbot Joseph Gatare
2-Abbot Elisee Mpongano
3-Abbot Jean Bosco Munyaneza
4-Abbot Evode Mwanangu
5-Abbot Michel Nsengiyumva
6-Abbot Justin Ruterandongozi
Priests of Nyundo Diocese:
1-Abbot Mathias Gahinda
2-Abbot Edouard Gakwandi (Philosoph)
3-Abbot Silas Gaskae
4-Abbot Albert Gashema
5-Abbot Cyprien Gasimba
6-Abbot Thaddee Gatore
7-Abbot Antoine Habiyambere
8-Abbot Spiridion Kageyo
9-Abbot Callixte Kalisa
10-AAbbot Clement Kanyabusozo
11-Abbot Ferdinand Karekezi
12-Abbot Paul Kesenne (surname: CYIZANYE, Belgian Nationality)
13-AAbbot Robert Matajyabo
14-Abbot Denys Mutabazi ( Founder of Inyemeramihigo de Gisenyi College)
15-Abbot Sylvere Mutiganda
16-Abbot Herman Mwambari
17-Abbot Alfred Niyitegeka ( Former Rector of G.S. of Rutongo)
18-Abbot Antoine Niyitegeka
19-Abbot Augustin Nkezabera
20-Abbe Venuste Nsengiyumva
21-Abbot Augustin Ntagara
22-AAbbot Vedaste Nyiribakwe
23-Abbot Adrien Nzanana
24-Abbot Aloys Nzaramba
25-Abbot Innocent Ruberizesa
26-Abbot Abbe Theophile Rutagengwa
27-Abbot Francois Rwigenza
28-Abbot Abbe Deogratias Rwivanga
29-Abbot Narcisse Sebasare
30-AAbbot Joseph Sekabaraga
31-Abbot Boniface Senyenzi
32-Abbot Deogratias Twagirayezu
33-Abbot Twagirayezu Urbain
34-Mgr. Jean Ntirivamunda (Dean and Priest of Murunda)
Priests of Ruhengeri Diocese :
1-Abbot Boniface Kagabo
2-Abbot Jerome Sembagare
Missionaries of Africa:
1-Priest ANDRE CALOONE
2-Priest GUY PINARD
3-Priest CLAUDE SIMARD
4-Priest JOAQUIM VALLMAJO (Spanish)
Jesuite Priests and Brothers:
1-Priest PATRICK GAHIZI
2-Priest CHYSOLOGUE MAHAME
3-Priest INNOCENT RUTAGAMBWA
1-Priest VJEKO CURIC
Priest Fdei Donum:
1-Priest UZCUDUM ISIDRO
© SurViVors Editions
Président honoraire de SIMA-KIVU, Bruxelles
Chers amis, chers confrères,
Bonjour. Je suis Emmanuel Murhula A. Nashi, ancien étudiant (de la même promotion que Moro Mwamba, qu'il repose en paix !), ancien assistant à l'ISTI, et ancien journaliste à « Temps Nouveaux », « Grognon » et « Jua » entre 1990 et 1992. Actuellement, je vis en Belgique et enseigne des cours de communication aux universités de Namur (FUNDP) et de Mons (FUCAM), ainsi qu'à l'ISFSC (Institut supérieur de formation sociale et de communication) à Bruxelles.
Ce n'est pas en ma qualité de professeur que je vous écris, mais en celle de congolais, et ce pour deux motifs, liés à la l'article « Une polémique congolaise : Le Potentiel vs Pole Institute ». Mon but n'est pas d'alimenter ladite polémique créée par la réaction de Mme Christiane Kayser, et les commentaires suscités dans l'opinion congolaise. Je suis persuadé que la présente contribution éclairera les lecteurs du Potentiel, car, ayant assumé de 1993 à 1997 la présidence de l'asbl SIMA-KIVU (Soutien aux initiatives des mouvements actifs au Kivu), basée à Bruxelles, je détiens des informations sur la fameuse conférence de Bonn de 1997 dont il est question dans le droit de réponse de Pole Institute.
Bien plus, je connais personnellement Aloys Tegera, l'un de ses responsables, pour avoir fait en même temps que lui mes études de philosophie au Grand séminaire des Pères-Blancs à Bukavu, entre 1981 et 1983.
Avant tout, laissez-moi vous féliciter très sincèrement pour la pertinence de votre article. Si « Pole Institute » a réagi avec tant de passion, c'est précisément parce que vous avez mis le doigt sur des questions légitimes que doivent se poser non seulement l'opinion congolaise, mais aussi les dirigeants. Votre noble devoir a été rempli en toute indépendance, et pour cela, vous forcez le respect. Je tiens à dire sans détour que vous avez informé correctement en écrivant que Pole Institute est un « think thank de la balkanisation du Congo ». Laissez-moi vous le montrer dans le témoignage qui suit.
Je m'en tiendrai à deux points, qui concernent uniquement les enjeux liés aux activités de cette organisation au Congo. Premièrement : il faut savoir que lors de cette rencontre de Bonn, le prétexte était effectivement de réunir des représentants de la société civile du Kivu, y compris ceux de la diaspora, soi-disant pour « créer un cadre de réflexion et d'échanges pour promouvoir les valeurs positives communes aux peuples » des pays des Grands lacs .
En mars 1997, notre association était représentée à cette conférence par deux personnes qui occupent aujourd'hui de hauts postes de responsabilité au Congo  . Je peux donc révéler au public que Pole Institute a commis un oubli volontaire parmi les participants à cette rencontre : quelques hommes politiques allemands.
Or, il s'avère que durant cette conférence, nos deux délégués furent approchés en coulisses par ces derniers qui leur proposèrent le deal suivant :
« Etant donné que Kinshasa est très éloigné des préoccupations du Kivu, vous avez intérêt à vous tourner vers l'est de l'Afrique. En votre qualité de leaders de la société civile kivutienne, vous pouvez convaincre votre population de son intérêt d'une alliance avec le Rwanda. Par ailleurs, l'Allemagne et l'Union Européenne disposent d'un projet de plan Marshall pour le développement du Kivu à conditions que vous acceptiez de vous détacher du Congo et de vous rattacher au Rwanda » .
Bien entendu, ces messieurs reçurent une fin de non recevoir de la part de nos représentants. Pour notre part, nous avions compris définitivement les motifs réels de cette conférence pilotée par Christiane Kayser et l'EZE (église protestante allemande) : la balkanisation de la République démocratique du Congo.
Par ailleurs, la revue « Regards croisés » publié par Pole Institute en 1997 m'avait interpellé personnellement, car je réalisais qu'elle constituait une arme intellectuelle du combat de Mme Kayser, Aloys Tegera, Lindiro Labirigi.
A l'époque, j'avais envoyé un article destiné à croiser le regard avec celui de Tegera Aloys intitulé « La guerre en République démocratique du Congo : implosion et chaos ou douleurs d'enfantement d'un ordre nouveau ». Hélas, « Regards croisés » n'a jamais voulu publier mon article  . Ni Christiane Kayser, ni Aloys Tegera ne m'ont jamais fourni les raisons de ce refus, mais on peut les deviner aisément. En effet, Tegera défendait la thèse selon laquelle « les causes de la guerre d'août 1998 du Congo se trouvaient dans « l'idéologie ethnico-raciale », et accordait aux Tutsis un statut spécial de victimes face aux autres ethnies congolaises.
L'auteur trouvait à justifier qu' « un groupe ou une communauté humaine marquée par la peur de l'extermination pouvait recourir aux solutions militaires comme seule garantie de survie ». Or, je démontrais que mon ancien confrère était victime de l'ethnisme qu'il prétendait combattre, par le fait notamment qu'il ne voyait pas que l'ethnie autoproclamée minoritaire était la seule à posséder des armes au milieu de toutes les autres.
En fait, j'ai toujours peiné à comprendre les raisons profondes qui ont poussé un prêtre, le Père Aloys Tegera, à choisir le même combat que l'émule d'Adolf Hitler  , consistant à diviser les peuples africains.
Pole Institute a beau nier son rôle de « pourvoyeur d'idées de la balkanisation du Congo » au profit du Rwanda - ç'eût été étonnant qu'il l'avouât d'ailleurs -, c'est bel et bien l'objectif poursuivi derrière ses activités au Congo.
P.S. Je vous prie de trouver, en pièce jointe distincte, le texte de mon article cité, afin de juger par vous-mêmes.
Prof. Emmanuel Murhula A. Nashi.
 Si vous désirez les connaître, je vous communiquerai leur identité à l'occasion d'un entretien téléphonique.
 Celui-ci fut publié finalement dans la revue « L'Africain », n° 189-190, Bruxelles, 1999, sous le titre : « La guerre en R.D. du Congo : collusion entre pouvoir, ethnie et dictatures militaires ».
 J'ai cité le président ougandais Yoweri Museveni, qui déclara aux juristes de l'Afrique de l'est réunis en juillet 1997 : « Comme Hitler l'a fait pour rassembler les Allemands, nous devrions aussi le faire ici. Hitler était un gars attachant et très intelligent » !
 Voir mon ouvrage : « Pourquoi ont-ils tué Laurent-Désiré Kabila ? », L'Harmattan, Paris, 2007.
NEAR KIGALI, Rwanda - Soldiers from the Rwanda Defense Force train near Kigali in late March 2009. U.S. and British soldiers visited Rwanda at the request of the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) to prepare for an upcoming event to mentor noncommissioned officers (NCO) on leadership and build NCO capacity within the RDF. (Photo by Master Sergeant George Duenas, U.S. Army Africa)
By Rick ScavettaU.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
NEAR KIGALI, Rwanda, Apr 8, 2009 — Soldiers from U.S. Army Africa continue to build noncommissioned officer capacity in Rwanda through a partnership effort with British counterparts.
During a recent visit to Rwanda, senior U.S. Army Africa NCOs met with British and Rwandan officers to prepare for an upcoming assignment to mentor Rwandan NCOs on leadership."The Rwandan Defense Force requested an event for students who already have some leadership experience, something similar to our Warrior Leadership Course," said Sergeant Major Kellyjack Luman, U.S. Army Africa operations sergeant major.
"Together, with the British military, we will offer a program to meet their needs."The program, which is planned for later this year, will be carried out by British and American soldiers at a training area near Kigali. In addition to leadership offerings, the month-long event will include a three-day field exercise, Luman said.U.S. Army Africa, a component of U.S. Africa Command, partners with African nations to offer assistance that leads to safe and prosperous environments on the continent.
The U.S. team is working with the British Peace Support Team Eastern Africa (BPST-EA), a unit that provides military advice, coordinates and supervises British and international assistance to national armed forces and regional structures in Central and Eastern Africa, said British Army Lt. Col. Stephen Segrave.In 1994, Rwanda was devastated by mass killings that left hundreds of thousands dead and many more forced from their homes.
"In recent years, the RDF has earned a reputation for being a disciplined fighting force that is responsive to elected officials in support of peace and stability in their nation," Segrave said. Rwanda is also committed to regional stability, as shown by their commitment of four infantry battalions to peacekeeping duties in Darfur, Segrave said."Their desire for professionalism and hunger to learn demonstrates a genuine aspiration to strive for perfection," Segrave said. "Both the U.K. and the U.S. recognize efforts made by the RDF.
This partnership will build RDF leadership capacity."Last July, British military offered the RDF a course for junior non-commissioned officers. This upcoming course will focus on section commanders, Segrave said."Working together with U.S. Army Africa allows us to build a mutual understanding on how to help build capacity among nations in the Eastern Africa Region," Seagrave said.
The RDF has a superb training area, said Master Sergeant George Duenas, upon returning from a recent visit.A native of Guam, Duenas, 42, is a maintenance supervisor assigned to U.S. Army Africa's logistics section. His first mentorship assignment in Africa was to Botswana in early 2008. He also worked with soldiers in Uganda. Duenas hopes his 22 years in the military, much of that time spent leading Soldiers, will help Rwandans to improve, he said.
"Providing insight into how U.S. Army NCOs conduct business is key," Duenas said. "We can pass on knowledge from our Army and the British Soldiers will offer their views. The RDF will be able to add that to their programs."The Rwandan school, established in the early 1990's, offers training in basic soldier skills, a refresher course and some NCO training.
"The RDF commanding officer and his staff gave us a guided tour of their training base, with a historical overview and discussions about the Rwandan's current training mission," Luman said.Programs like this, where U.S. and British militaries partner with an African nation, are coordinated through the local embassy in support of diplomatic cooperation.
The U.S.-UK program will expose the Rwandan troops to another way of NCO development that they can incorporate into their own programs, Luman said. The U.S. NCOs have built a strong rapport with their Rwandan counterparts, through formal discussions and chats over dinner, Luman said. "That bond will grow as we move forward with this program," Luman said.
Source: U.S. Army Africa
The campaign group called recently for Kigali to hold “direct” talks with some FDLR rebels said not to have participated in the Tutsi Genocide. The same position was picked up by a senior US Senator Russ Feingold encouraging the Obama administration to direct its policy in that direction.
“When people start asking for talks with FDLR, I do not know what that means”, Mr. Kagame said while pounding his table. He added that the ICG recommendation for direct talks has “come too late” because many have surrendered.
President Kagame said if there are any rebels categorized as “moderates” then they would have surrendered and allowed to be repatriated to Rwanda “like the others” instead of continuing to “kill”.
“We have generals, colonels who have come back”, he said in reference to several former combatant officers including former FDLR commander Maj General Paul Rwarakabije and Brig. Jerome Ngengahimana. Both surrendered in 2003, a process that has led to the repatriation of up to 8000 rebels, according to the troubled UN mission in DRC.
Mr. Kagame told a press conference that those who are asking for talks have no other alternative to the problem. “Even when we were fighting the government which was murdering people they said we should negotiate”, Kagame said in reference to the Habyarimana government.
“If the ICG thinks talks are the best way to solve the problem, Madam tell them they should ask us what we think”, he told the Reuters journalist who has raised the issue.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kagame also said his forces remain ready “at short notice” to go back to eastern DRC to flash the rebels if asked by the Kinshasa government.
Report on Rwanda s Application for Membership of the Commonwealth: An assessment against Core Criteria
Comments on this report:
“We should not even say that Rwanda made an application to join the Commonwealth. In fact, it’s Kagame who is joining the Commonwealth, not Rwanda as a nation. What is happening in Rwanda is that a minority cannot govern without human rights violations.
Anyone who condemned or did not support Kagame’s war is now in jail in Rwanda under the gacaca courts system. Others have fled the country and are still fleeing now. Many others Rwandans are being persecuted in their own country.
Kagame is waiting for an apology from others who warn him or who wanted to help to ensure that political negotiations take place between Kagame and the former government he was fighting against.Britain continues to supply foreign aid to Kagame and his cronies with media reports highlighting economic successes of Rwanda. Such reports are flawed and are aimed at misleading the British public to justify the use of British taxpayers’ money.
Kagame and his cronies continue to milk British taxpayers’ money under the British budget support. This started from 1986 through the British budget support to Uganda until today.In addition to the British taxpayer’s money supplied to the Rwandan Embassies abroad which are working only to sell Kagame’s image and achievements and to hunt the genocidaires, Kagame continues to use British taxpayers’ money to clear his name by organising multiple trips abroad to talk to the media.
Taking into account that during the last 15 years Kagame received 10 times more foreign aid than any developing country of the same size as Rwanda, in the world, the achievements of Kagame are not even what we could expect. For the British, Kagame’s claimed economic successes replace human rights, democracy and rule of law. Allowing Kagame to join the Commonwealth is giving him green light to continue his policy of hum rights violations which are aimed to maintain him on power until he dies”.
CHRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative working for the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation, mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth.
In 1987, several Commonwealth professional associations founded CHRI. They believed that while the Commonwealth provided member countries a shared set of values and legal principles from which to work and provided a forum within which to promote human rights, there was little focus on the issues of human rights within the Commonwealth.
The objectives of CHRI are to promote awareness of and adherence to the Commonwealth Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in Commonwealth member states.Through its reports and periodic investigations, CHRI continually draws attention to progress and setbacks to human rights in Commonwealth countries.
In advocating for approaches and measures to prevent human rights abuses, CHRI addresses the Commonwealth Secretariat, member governments and civil society associations. Through its public education programmes, policy dialogues, comparative research, advocacy and networking, CHRI’s approach throughout is to act as a catalyst around its priority issues.
The nature of CHRI’s sponsoring organisations allows for a national presence and an international network.* These professionals can also steer public policy by incorporating human rights norms into their own work and act as a conduit to disseminate human rights information, standards and practices. These groups also bring local knowledge, can access policy makers, highlight issues, and act in concert to promote human rights.
CHRI is based in New Delhi, India, and has offices in London, UK, and Accra, Ghana.International Advisory Commission: Sam Okudzeto - Chairperson. Members: Eunice Brookman-Amissah, Murray Burt, Yash Ghai,Alison Duxbury, Neville Linton, B.G. Verghese, Zohra Yusuf and Maja Daruwala.Executive Committee (India): B.G. Verghese – Chairperson. Members: Anu Aga, B.K.Chandrashekar, Bhagwan Das, Nitin Desai,K.S. Dhillon, Harivansh, Sanjoy Hazarika, Poonam Muttreja, Ruma Pal, R.V. Pillai, Kamal Kumar and Maja Daruwala – Director.Executive Committee (Ghana): Sam Okudzeto – Chairperson. Members: Anna Bossman, Neville Linton, Emile Short, B.G. Verghese,and Maja Daruwala - Director.Executive Committee (UK): Neville Linton – Chairperson; Lindsay Ross – Deputy Chairperson. Members: Austin Davis, MeenakshiDhar, Derek Ingram, Claire Martin, Syed Sharfuddin and Elizabeth Smith.* Commonwealth Journalists Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Commonwealth Legal Education Association, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,Commonwealth Press Union and Commonwealth Broadcasting Association.ISBN: 81-88205-68-0© Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, 2009. Image: ©iStockphoto.com/Duncan Walker.Research & Background Writing: Lucy Mathieson; Editing: Heather Collister; Administrative Support: CHRI London OfficeMaterial from this report may be used, duly acknowledging the source.CHRI Headquarters, New Delhi CHRI United Kingdom, London CHRI Africa, AccraB-117, Second Floor Institute of Commonwealth Studies House No.9, Samora MachelSarvodaya Enclave 28, Russell Square Street Asylum DownNew Delhi - 110 017 London WC1B 5DS opposite Beverly Hills HotelINDIA UK Near Trust Towers,Accra, GhanaTel: +91-11-2685-0523, 2686-4678 Tel: +44-020-7-862-8857 Tel: +00233-21-971170Fax: +91-11-2686-4688 Fax: +44-020-7-862-8820 Tel/Fax: +00233-21-971170E-mail: email@example.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail: email@example.comSupported [in part] by a grant fromFoundation Open Society Institute (Zug).Rwanda’s Application forMembership of the Commonwealth:Report of a Mission ofthe Commonwealth Human Rights InitiativePrepared by:Prof. Yash GhaiWith the assistance of Lucy Mathieson, CHRITable of ContentsI Introduction 1IIThe Commonwealth and rules for membership 1IIIRwanda: history and background 3IV Assessing Rwanda’s record 41. The genocide ideology of “negation”, “revisionism” and “trivialization” 52. Compatibility with the Harare Declaration 7(a) Democracy and governance 7(b) Fundamental human rights 7(i) Freedom of expression 8(ii) Freedom of association and assembly 10(c) Rule of law and the independence of the judiciary 10(i) Gacaca courts and transitional justice 11(d) Civil Society 11(e) International relations 12V Considerations for a policy on admission 12VI Recommendations 14VII Annexure - List of Organisations Consulted 16Rwanda’s Application forMembership of the Commonwealth: Report of a Mission of the Commonwealth Human Rights InitiativeI IntroductionRwanda has applied for membership of the Commonwealth. The application is likely to be considered at the next meeting of the Heads of Commonwealth Governments meeting in November 2009. The CommonwealthSecretariat has already made an assessment of the application (although its report is, unfortunately, still confidential). As the question of Commonwealth membership is not merely a matter for governments, but alsofor the peoples of the Commonwealth (the Commonwealth being primarily an association of the people of member states), the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which represents several key pan-Commonwealth civil society organisations and collaborates with many more, decided to make its ownassessment of the application against the criteria for membership. For this purpose it sent a mission to Rwanda in May 2009.1 The mission paid particular attention to the state of human rights and the role of civil society, inaccordance with the criteria and the terms of the Harare Declaration. It also considered the implications of the expansion of Commonwealth membership, particularly of states which have had no historical links with theCommonwealth. The mission met a number of government and state officials, members of several independent commissions, NGOs, the media, human rights organisations, and of the international community. It also undertooka systematic survey of the literature, including several important reports by independent local and international organisations. Due to the fact that many of the individuals and organisations with whom CHRI interviewed,held fears for their safety if directly cited, CHRI has maintained their anonymity.This report is based on that mission, and on considerable reading about the history and current situation of Rwanda. A longer document with more examples and further references has been prepared by CHRI and canbe obtained from them.II The Commonwealth and rules for membershipThe Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states who were previously part of the British empire. On independence, most colonies opted to join the Commonwealth. It provides for them a framework for consultation and co-operation in the common interests of their peoples and inthe promotion of international understanding and world peace. It has no constitution or charter, but members commit themselves to certain beliefs and values set by the Heads of Government. The basis of these values is the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, agreed at Singapore in 1971, and reaffirmed in the Harare Declaration of 1991. The fundamental political values underpinning the Commonwealth include democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and gender equality, the rule of law, andsustainable economic and social development.The fact that the Commonwealth is a ‘family’ of nations which have a common heritage in many fields, including a common language, enables its members to work together in an atmosphere of co-operationand understanding. Commonwealth governments also learn from each other through their regular meetings at all levels. Apart from the summits there are meetings of ministers and senior officials. The Commonwealthhas an active programme supporting economic development in member nations, helping members meet the millennium development goals both through expert advisers and in highlighting their issues, particularlythose of small states, in international forums. Developing countries are also eligible, through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, for technical assistance and training programmes.The Commonwealth is a significant voice in international forums. Its members comprise over 40 percent of the membership of the World Trade Organisation, making it influential in global trade. The Commonwealth brings together big and small states, a microcosm of the world, in equal partnership.The rules for membership have developed over nearly 80 years, reflecting the evolution of the Empire into Commonwealth. They remained largely informal until recently. The formalisation of the rules was principally due to two factors. The first was the need to define its essential principles and values, arisingout of increased membership, with differing political systems and uneven commitment to democracy and human rights. This led to the adoption of the Harare Declaration in 1997 which, following the SingaporePrinciples 1971, placed great emphasis on democracy and human rights, and the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme Principles (1995) which establishes sanctions for fundamental breach of theCommonwealth Principles.The second was the interest shown by states with no previous constitutional link to the Commonwealth or its member states for membership. Mozambique was admitted without formal rules in 1995. Concerns that this would allow open-ended expansion of the Commonwealth and dilute its historic ties promptedthe 1995 CHOGM to establish the Inter-Governmental Group on Criteria for Commonwealth Membership (the Patterson Commission). The group recommended that new members would be limited to those with constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member. Its recommendations were endorsed at the 1997 Edinburgh CHOGM. The rule about a constitutional link with a member state was re-examinedand rejected at the 2007 Kampala CHOGM, which decided a close relationship between a member state and an applicant state would suffice. The rules now require that the applicant state:
- endorse the norms, values and principles set out in the Harare Declaration (1991);
- be a sovereign state; enjoy general endorsement of the application from its citizens;
- accept the use of English as the language of Commonwealth communications; and
- acknowledge the role of the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth.The 2007 CHOGM also recommended a formalisation of the process of attaining membership, including:
- the country will express its interest to the Commonwealth Secretariat;
- more formal consultation with Heads of Government will follow;
- consultation with civil society must take place, to demonstrate popular support;
- if Heads are in agreement then the country will be encouraged to apply; and
- at the following CHOGM it will be admitted.Nevertheless, assessing applications for Commonwealth membership remains problematic. For instance, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) assesses compliance of members with Harare on a very limited basis: what it refers loosely to as “failures of democracy”.
This is based almost entirely upon whether or not the country has a democratically elected government. Commonwealth states that commit serious human rights abuses are not placed formally upon CMAG’s agenda.2 CHRI believes that the procedure for admission to the Commonwealth must include a full and comprehensive review of the situation of human rights in the applicant country.
CHRI stands by its previous submissions to the Secretariatthat successful applications must be a “badge of honour”, indicative of the high human rights standards that the member countries and the Commonwealth must observe. Applicant countries should expect to be vigorously scrutinised both at the point of application and subsequently to ensure all members arecompliant. There is no mechanism for monitoring the extent of general public endorsement of the application in the applicant country.
There must be a process to ensure that these criteria are met. Furthermore, the process of admitting only those states that comply with stringent standards should be paralleled by better monitoring of current members’ compliance with the Harare Principles.
Although the current membership criteria appear to be supportive of such an approach, there are no benchmarks for membership, and no process for monitoring - the final decision is more one of subjectivity and politics than transparency and consistency. Shifting the negotiation prior to CHOGM does not in itself make it any more transparent, and, given the lack of any mechanism for sounding out civil society, a democratic deficit will remain.
Without clear benchmarks for monitoring compliance, the political wranglingwill continue. The emphasis will shift from CHOGM to pre-CHOGM diplomacy and issues such as human rights and civil society participation will continue to be secondary.III Rwanda: history and backgroundRwanda, a former Belgian colony, has a population of about 10 million which consists of three ethnic groups: the Hutu (about 85 percent), Tutsi (14 percent) and Batwa (1 percent).
The colonial categorisation of the people into ethnic groups (as elsewhere in Africa) was based more on European racist anthropology than historical reality, but it had a profound impact on the way that the colonial state was organised and on the development of politics and political parties in the run up to, and after, independence. These categories were based on European assumptions of the superiority of some African tribes over others, and mistook social classes or grouping for ethnic categories.
This made the social, economic, and political system rigid, built onimagined differences, and changed the basis for the relations and co-operation between different communities.Co-operation and mobility between communities were replaced by rigid and hierarchical and competitive relations. These racial categories have continued to bedevil independent Rwanda and are the source of genocide and other forms of extreme violence that has marred its recent history.
Pre-colonial Rwanda was highly organized and had a centralized system of administration. The kingdom was presided over by Umwami (King) from, mainly, the Nyiginya clan of the Tutsi sub-group. The Umwamihad almost absolute powers. The relationship between the king and the rest of the population was unequal, sustained by the highly organized system of “ubuhake”, referred to as a “patron-client” or contractualrelationship between the landed gentry and ordinary subjects.
For over 400 years, peaceful co-existence marked this relationship. Pre-colonial Rwanda’s main economic activities were cattle keeping and farming.Rwandans are agreed that the term Tutsi was used in pre-colonial Rwanda to mean a cattle keeper, and therefore affluent, and Hutu to mean a farmer, and therefore less affluent. But there was mobility between the two classes, based on the accumulation of wealth.In 1899 Rwanda became a German colony under German East Africa. After World War I it became a mandate territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium. In 1946 its status changed to a UN trust territory with continued Belgian administration. Over 40 years of Belgian administrationindigenous ways of life were distorted.
For practical and political reasons, the Belgians at first favoured the King and his chiefs, who were mostly a Tutsi ruling elite. When the demand for independence began,mainly by the same previously favoured Tutsi elite, under a political party, Union Nationale Rwandaise (UNAR), the Belgian authorities hastily switched support to a section of Hutu seminarians under a politicalparty called PARMEHUTU, founded on a sectarian ethnic ideology.
On 1 July 1962, Rwanda became independent. Hutu elite politics of 1959 and events leading to independence were crucial to the political life of Rwanda. The first republic excluded Tutsi from all positions of leadership and limited their access to education. All political and economic power was concentrated in the hands of a few members of the Hutu elite from the central region. Serious strife erupted in December 1963 with large-scale massacre of Tutsis. Thousands of Tutsi fled to neighbouring countries.
In 1965 Rwanda was declared a one-party state under MDR/PARMEHUTU, which was the architect of the racist ideology that was to be consolidated in the Second Republic under President Major-General Juvenal Habyarimana and the Mouvement RevolutionaireNationale pour le Developpement (MRND). A coup, and what was by now perceived as ethnic division, combined with intermittent flows of returning Tutsi refugees in a country where land is both scarce andmain source of livelihood, resulted in ethnic clashes, culminating in the 1994 genocide in which over 800,000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu and Batwa, were murdered.
The genocide followed the death of Habyarimana when his plane was destroyed by a missile as he returned from Arusha after peace talks. This was suspected to be the work of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), organised mainly by Tutsi refugees, which had been fighting a civil war with the government since1990.
The genocide ended when the RPF seized most Rwandan territory and drove the genocidal regime into exile (killings continued for a while, but this time more Hutu than Tutsi were victims).5 The RPF hasruled the country since 1994, at first under interim constitutional arrangements, sharing power with a limited number of political parties, and since 2003 under a new constitution which it was instrumental indrafting. Its leader, Paul Kagame was elected to a seven-year term in largely peaceful but seriously marred elections.
The constitution was intended to herald a period of democratic and accountable political system, with the separation of power, multi-partyism with elements of power sharing, strong protection ofhuman rights, and emphasis on equality and national consensus and unity. It has a number of innovative provisions for accountability and power sharing.3Under this constitution, the RPF has continued to dominate the legislature and the executive.
It has made significant progress in bringing political stability and economic development to the country. It claims to eschew ethnic politics, and to promote national unity by recognizing merit and integrity, and emphasizingthe equal rights and obligations of citizenship. It has set up a comprehensive system to achieve justice and the rule of law. It credits itself with healing the wounds of the ethnic conflicts and genocide, and the determination to ensure reconciliation and harmony among all the people.
It has earned abroad thereputation of being an honest and efficient government, and aspires to play a leading, constructive role in Africa. President Kagame has been widely acclaimed as an enlightened and purposeful leader.However, not every one agrees with this assessment. International human rights organizations have generally been critical of what they regard as the RPF’s opportunistic approach to human rights. The dominance of the RPF is said to negate the separation of powers mandated by the constitution.
Elections are manipulated to ensure RPF victories. Decentralisation is likewise dismissed by critics as the means of co-opting and controlling local leaders. Rwanda has been accused of pursuing pro-Tutsi policies under the guise of a non-ethnic approach and the penalization of discussion of ethnic issues. Its economicrecovery is attributed to the massive infusion of foreign aid.
Given the importance of democracy and rights to Rwanda’s credentials, and the very different perceptions of its record, an essential task of the CHRI was to make its own independent assessment.IV Assessing Rwanda’s recordRwanda’s application for the membership of the Commonwealth raises firstly, the general question of how the expansion of the Commonwealth affects its values, ambience and procedures, and secondly, the specific issue whether Rwanda meets the prescribed criteria.
It is not sufficient that an applicant satisfies the criteria, although whether the test of the Harare Declaration is satisfied, is a matter of judgment on which there can be differences among reasonable people. In other words, the membership criteria go tothe eligibility, not the entitlement, of the applicant. There has to be a very good reason why a country without any prior constitutional link to the Commonwealth should be admitted. But before we proceed tothese considerations, we deal with the formal criteria.
There is little doubt that Rwanda is a sovereign state. It has accepted English as an official language. The constitution and laws are published in English as in other official languages (Kinyarwanda and French).Many Rwandans, including senior politicians and public servants read, write and speak English (particularly those who grew up in exile in Uganda and Tanzania).
English is rapidly becoming the medium of instructionin higher education, and increasingly at other levels. Rwanda has introduced elements of the common law in its legal system (aiming, as the Minister of Justice explained, at drawing on the best of the commonand civil laws). Since the RPF assumed power, Rwanda has made a deliberate effort to distance itself from the francophonic connections that had constituted such an important part of its identity, state system and international relations (at least in part because of its resentment at French assistance to previousHutu dominated regimes), and to move closer to the English speaking world.
And undoubtedly it acknowledges the role of the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.That leaves two criteria which are not so straightforward—general endorsement of the application by citizens, and democracy and human rights. It is exceedingly hard to say what Rwandans think of the Commonwealth, even if they have heard of it.
As this report shows, there is not much of a civil society that would be interested and would have views on the application. There are strict restrictions on freedom of expression, and opposition to the position or policies of the government is not easily or readily expressed. So even if there is opposition to membership, it would not be easy to detect it.
However, the chances are that the people know little about the application and probably care less. As this report has indicated, there is little guidance in the membership criteria as to how the will of the people is to be discovered—as by informing and engaging the people on the issue (the Rwanda constitution provides for a referendum to decide important national issues like this, Art. 109, but this might be considered too cumbersome and expensive). Perhaps it is not too late for the Commonwealth to adopt some benchmarks and procedurefor ascertaining public opinion, to be applied to this application.
The Commonwealth has already accepted as part of the process of admission that the government must consult with the people and must demonstratetheir support.There is substantial evidence on the record (laws as well as practice) of democracy and human rights, in accordance with general norms as well as those adopted in the Harare Declaration. But, as this reporthas hinted, it is not easy to assess the evidence against the standards that Rwanda must meet. In as objective a manner as possible, the report tries to make a judgment of compatibility with the letter and spirit of the Declaration.
The Declaration reiterates the long standing principles of the Commonwealth,among them the following:
- belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender,race, colour, creed or political belief, and in the individual’s inalienable right to participate by meansof free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives;
- recognition of racial prejudice and intolerance as a dangerous sickness and a threat to healthydevelopment, and racial discrimination as an unmitigated evil; and
- opposition to all forms of racial oppression, and commitment to the principles of human dignityand equality.It then re-commits the Commonwealth to:
- the protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth: democracy,democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and theindependence of the judiciary, just and honest government; fundamental human rights, includingequal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief;
- equality for women, so that they may exercise their full and equal rights;
- provision of universal access to education;
- commitment to fight poverty and promote economic and social development;
- recognition of the importance of the role of non-governmental Commonwealth organizations inpromoting these objectives, in a spirit of co-operation and mutual support; and
- promotion of international understanding and co-operation.
The fundamental principles that are addressed in this report are therefore: democracy, the rule of law (including the independence of the judiciary), fundamental human rights regardless of race or creed,gender equality and equity, and socio-economic rights—and the recognition of the significance of civil society. But before turning to them, the report discusses the broad framework within which most social and political activity is viewed and regulated, and which has an impact on most principles of the HarareDeclaration.
1. The genocide ideology of “negation”, “revisionism” and “trivialization”Understandably, the RPF government wished to establish a regime in which there would be both an accountability of past atrocities and prevention of future acts of political and ethnic killings. The preamble of the 2003 constitution sets out the people’s “resolve to fight the ideology of genocide and all its manifestations and to eradicate ethnic, regional and any other form of divisions” (the “ideology of genocide” appears in Kinyarwanda as the relatively new term, “Ingengabitekerezo bya jenocide”, meaning literally the ideas that lead to genocide).
The experience of genocide also led the regime to emphasis the unity of the country (“one Rwanda”) and its people, and to ban ethnicclassifications or any discussion of the country’s diversity.Several provisions of the constitution reflect this approach. A fundamental principle is the “eradication of ethnic, regional and other divisionsand promotion of national unity” (Art. 9, para 3).
Article 13 specifies that revisionism, negationism (i.e., denial) and the minimization of genocide were punishable by law while Article 33 states that all ethnic, regionalist, and racial propaganda, and any propaganda based on any other form of division,are punishable by law. The reference to culture is always to “national culture” (Arts. 50 and 51).Political parties cannot be based on ethnicity, tribe, clan or “any other division which may give rise to discrimination” (Art. 54). Party lists of candidates at elections must reflect these principles (presumably ignoring ethnic considerations (Art. 77, para 3)).
The Senate must supervise the observance ofthese principles (Art. 87). There is an emphasis on resolution of disputes between parties by a political parties’ forum, operating on the principle of consensus (Art. 56). Power sharing is secured by the requirement to have a multi-party government, a provision which restricts the majority partyto not more than half the seats in the cabinet, (Art. 116, para 5), and the rule that the President of the Republic and the President of the Chamber of Deputies cannot come from the same party (Art.58).
Citizens are also obliged to promote social solidarity: “Every citizen has the duty to relate to other persons without discrimination and to maintain relations conducive to safeguarding, promoting and reinforcing mutual respect, solidarity and tolerance” (Art.46).This approach and these provisions are consistent with the emphasis in the Harare Declaration on equality and non-discrimination, and against racism.
But many critics allege that this superstructure hides thereality of the way in which state power is exercised—that the prohibition of ethnic discrimination and the disregard of ethnic factors is a ruse to build and maintain the dominance of the Tutsi. They argue thatpolitical and legal prohibition of “genocide ideology” is used to suppress public discussion and criticism of the past and present conduct of the RPF, particularly the violence that led to its capture of state powerand in its continuing hold on power—the violence which is still manifested nationally and in its armed excursions in neighbouring states.6
They say power sharing is a means of co-opting opposition parties,as is the emphasis on consensus, and that goals and strategies of reconciliation are geared towards entrenching the power of the RPF. It is undoubtedly the case that the politics of genocide ideology hasbecome central to Rwandan politics (as this report shows in its discussion of democracy and human rights).
As a preliminary to that discussion, the report examines legislation on genocide ideology.In the 2003 law punishing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, Article 4 prohibits denial, gross minimalisation, and any attempt to justify or approve of genocide as well as any destruction of evidence of the genocide.
Neither the constitution nor the 2003 law provides specificdefinitions of the terms “revisionism,” “denial” or “gross minimization.” Persons guilty of “divisionism” are liable to imprisonment for up to five years and to loss of their civil rights. Those convicted of denying orgrossly minimizing genocide, attempting to justify genocide or destroy evidence related to it, are liable to a minimum of ten and a maximum of twenty years in prison.
In June 2008 the parliament adopted a law that criminalises what has been termed “genocide ideology.”Genocide ideology is defined as “an aggregate of thoughts characterized by conduct, speeches, documentsand other acts aiming at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate people based on ethnic group,origin, nationality, region, colour, physical appearance, sex, language, religion or political opinion, committed in normal periods or during war”.
“Negationism” (used in Article 13 of the Constitution) is usually used to refer to the denial of Tutsi genocide and conditions around its implementation and claiming that there was “double genocide” and other crimesagainst humanity committed during the war launched by the RPF, and acts of revenge after the 1994 genocide. “Revisionism” refers to movements that attempt to deny an “established fact or ideology”.
The2008 law penalizes “marginalizing, laughing at a person’s misfortune, defaming, mocking, boasting, despising, degrading, creating confusion aiming at negating the genocide which occurred, stirring up illfeelings, taking revenge, altering testimony or evidence for the genocide which occurred”.
Individuals as well as organizations can be punished under this law, with severe penalties. Its vagueness induces extremecaution on the part of both, even when their work is the investigation of the violation of rights or the integrity of state agencies, understandably because the judiciary has failed to balance the charges againstthe freedom of expression and other rights. Politically motivated accusations of divisionism have been used to attack civil society organizations, the press, and individuals.
Accusations of divisionism or “genocidal ideology” are among the most effective tools for silencing critics.What this says about the prospects of “one Rwanda” for the future is uncertain, but including any questionor debate around the deaths of Hutus as the result of retaliation by RPF’s armed forces under genocideideology, does not bode well for reconciliation or the coming to terms with the past, or for the protection ofthe freedom of expression.
The politics of the genocide ideology pervades so many aspects of officialpolicies and their impact on society that it is now central to any examination of the attitude of the statetowards human rights, governance and civil society (as will be obvious from the following assessment ofRwanda’s record on rights and governance).
There is the danger of the ideology becoming an obsessionwith the RPF, disabling it from an objective analysis of political and economic situation in the country,curbing the freedom of expression, discussion and consultation that is necessary for it to come to termswith, and avoid the errors of, its past. A perceptive commentator on Rwanda, Gérard Prunier, by nomeans unsympathetic to the Tutsi, says that “any mention of the word “Tutsi” or “Hutu” is strictly forbiddenby law.9
This means that any lucid examination of the relationship between Tutsi and Hutu before, duringand after the genocide is now impossible. […] Rwanda is now locked into an ideological straight-jacketproviding a relentless and official interpretation of history from which all shades of meaning havebeen sanitised.”
2. Compatibility with the Harare Declaration(a) Democracy and governance The Commonwealth commitment to democratic principles must be viewed and applied as more thanrhetoric, it must seek to ensure that all of a country’s democratic institutions reinforce one another. Theseinstitutions, whether legislative, judicial or executive, must be transparent in their deliberations andaccountable for their decisions. Each institution has a distinct role to play in addition to checking andbalancing other institutions.
Rwanda’s constitution provides for a democratic system, with separation ofpower, representative institutions, accountability of the government, and a comprehensive bill of rights.However, many persons told the CHRI mission that the executive was both powerful and authoritarian.The mechanisms for multi-party government were used to co-opt and neutralise the opposition parties.
The manipulation of the law on genocide ideology, with its broad and vague definition, plus the indoctrinationthat the reconciliation strategies facilitate, enhances the influence of the government in all state institutions,including the judiciary and security forces. Although the constitution establishes a number of independentinstitutions (including commissions on the electoral process, prevention of genocide, reconciliation, human rights, and complaints against the administration), they tend to be staffed by supporters of the government.
And, given a weak civil society, Rwanda gives a strong impression of a one party state.The 2003 presidential and parliamentary elections presented Rwandans with only a limited degree of political choice. Most election observers found fault with the elections, including intimidation. Although marred by a lack of transparency, procedural shortcomings and intimidation,11 which precluded any genuine challenge to the RPF, the 2003 elections were presented by the RPF as part of a continuing evolution toward democracy in the country. The regime has, according to some analysts, become even more repressive since the end of the transition period in 2003.
12 Contests for officials at the next higher levelused secret ballots, but it was reported that there were numerous irregularities, including stuffing of ballotboxes and intimidation of candidates. In a number of contests, voters did not have a choice, as only onecandidate stood.
13 The earlier local elections had been conducted by local authorities dominated by theRPF, and had dispensed with the secret ballot, with voters lining up in different queues.The RPF dominates the political arena. Eight other political parties associate themselves with thegovernment.
The constitutionally mandated Political Party Forum, to which all parties must belong, operates on the principle of consensus, and in practice the RPF guides its deliberations. The constitution officially permits political parties to exist— but under certain conditions. They must not base themselves on race,ethnic group, tribe, religion “or any other division which may give rise to discrimination” (Art. 54).
Political parties closely identified with the 1994 massacres are banned, as are parties based on ethnicity or religion.The Senate can bring charges against a political party which violates these principles; such a party ifguilty is dissolved, and all its members in the House of Deputies would lose their seats.
A number ofapplications for the registration of political parties have been rejected.The legislative and judicial branches of government have done little to counterbalance the executive ormitigate the influence of the military in policy making. In practice, power remains firmly concentrated inthe hands of a small inner circle of military and civilian elites, predominantly former Tutsi refugees. In thisway the diversity of Rwanda is negated.
(b) Fundamental human rightsRwanda has ratified most international and regional human rights treaties. Its constitution contains agenerally excellent chapter on human rights, including socio-economic rights. Both in this chapter andother parts, there are provisions for the promotion of gender equality and women’s participation in publicaffairs.
The rights of the marginalised communities (though not directly identified or defined) are givenspecial consideration, as are those of the disabled and the survivors of the genocide. There is, as alreadymentioned, great emphasis on non-discrimination and the equality before the law.
The constitution protects the right to choose one’s employment, and guarantees equal pay for equal work. It ensures to workersand employers the right to form collectives, for negotiations and other purposes, and additionally, toworkers a qualified right to strike. Free and compulsory primary education is to be provided by the state,which, together with the people, has commitments to provide medical services.
However the practice of human rights is generally different from the constitutional provisions. An exceptionis the impressive improvement in the situation of women, who are well represented in the legislature,executive and public administration. But even here, with the reduction of public space in which civil society organizations operate, women’s organizations that had been very effective in lobbying thegovernment on women’s issues in the past have avoided tackling issues that are not in line with thegovernment’s policy directives.
Discrimination against, indeed oppression of, women continues in families and communities, as noted by the CEDAW Committee in 1999. While noting that equality between menand women is enshrined in the Constitution of Rwanda, the Committee expresses concern thatdiscrimination against women exists in several fields, particularly under the Civil Code and the FamilyCode, which recognizes the husband to be the head of the conjugal community.
In the context of thereform of the Civil Code and the Family Code, the State party should take measures to remove provisionsthat place women in a situation of inferiority. It is of course understandable that social change takeslonger than enacting a law, but the above points are nevertheless valuable in moderating the claims thatgovernment policies have greatly improved the situation of women.
The government scores well on education, with an impressive expansion in institutions of learning. It alsoscores well on economic development, but at the cost of increasing disparities between the rich and thepoor, and urban and rural areas. Whilst the government has acknowledged the impoverished status ofthe Batwa and has encouraged district governments to include Batwa and all poor citizens in housing andtuition assistance programs, it has opposed peaceful organization among Batwa on the grounds thatsuch organizing violates the principle of national unity.
Additionally, other marginalized groups, such asstreet children, beggars, sex workers and the indigent, face social discrimination as well as governmentpolicies that infringe on their rights. And, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex peoples (LGBTI)currently are facing a new law which, if enacted, will criminalize activities that promote discussion or workon issues related to alternate sexuality.
In 2007, Rwanda abolished the death penalty. This move was widely acclaimed internationally. But notmany noticed that it was, in most cases, replaced by life imprisonment in solitary confinement. As the UNHuman Rights Committee commented, such solitary confinement is against article 7 of the Covenant onCivil and Political Rights. The Committee also expressed concern about reported cases of enforceddisappearances and summary or arbitrary executions in Rwanda and about the impunity apparentlyenjoyed by the police forces responsible for such violations.
It was also concerned about reported casesof enforced disappearances and summary or arbitrary executions in Rwanda and about the impunityapparently enjoyed by the police forces responsible for such violations.
The emphasis in this report is on political rights which are critical to democracy (including the accountabilityof the government) and the flourishing of civil society—the freedom of expression and the media, and therights to associate and assemble. It is significant that unlike the formulation of most other rights, theserights are made subject to the law, so that ultimately it is up to the executive and the legislature todetermine their scope.
(i) Freedom of expressionThe mission had some sense of the situation of freedom of expression in Rwanda, finding that manypeople it wanted to speak to were afraid to speak at all, or would only speak on the assurance of anonymity.This experience squared with the various reports of human rights organisations, and media reports.Despite some easing of tensions with broadcast media, overall media independence and freedom ofexpression have declined. Several periods marked by courageous journalism criticizing the government,the RPF, and the president have been followed by crackdowns on the media.
Freedom of conscience and opinion, and their “public manifestation” are protected (Article 33), but only“in accordance with conditions determined by law”, an expression that returns to the legislature andexecutive power that the constitution ostensibly limits. And propagation of ethnic, regional, racial ordiscrimination or any other form of division is punishable (Art. 33(2)). Article 34 protects freedom of themedia, but mentions a wider freedom of speech only to say that it must not prejudice various concernsincluding public order and morals.
Basic legal guarantees of freedom of expression and the media werecontained in the media law adopted in 2002. The law states that the press is free and censorship forbidden,but in practice the media are still tightly controlled by the government. Articles of the same law imposecriminal sanctions on the media for a wide range of offences such as divisionism and genocide ideology,punishable by one to five years in prison.
Accusations of these crimes are used to intimidate andsilence journalists.Since February 2004, when the government began easing restrictions on broadcast media, the radioairwaves have become more diverse, with several local and international radio stations broadcasting onthe FM bands. By the end of 2005, at least nine commercial, community, and religious stations wereoperating in the country along with new provincial stations belonging to state-owned Radio Rwanda.14The government has however stopped transmissions of radio stations on several occasions, including ofthe FM transmission of Radio France International on 27 November 2006.15 The BBC has been the target of a number of government complaints, which accused the Corporation in 2004 of propagating “genocideideology.”
In late 2007, the government accused a BBC journalist, Yusuf Mugenzi, of exacerbating ethnicdifferences through the Imvo n’imvano program, which brings together leading - and at times controversial- figures from the Rwandan diaspora. Government officials accused the programme of giving airtime to“genocide fugitives,” referring to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebel group based in eastern Congo, some of whose members took part in the 1994 genocide and continue to threaten stability in the region. There have been threats of suspension of BBC broadcasts onseveral occasions and in 2009 its Kinyarwanda broadcasts were in fact stopped.
Since 2005, one of the few independent newspapers, the biweekly Umuco, and its personnel have beenrepeatedly harassed and threatened for their criticism of the government, and the publication has beencensored. Copies have been seized, the editor forced into hiding for while, an Umuco journalist wasarrested in 2005, just after he published an article in which he accused Gacaca officials in Gitaramaprovince of mismanagement and witness tampering17 and imprisoned for nearly 11 months on a chargerelated to the 1994 genocide of which he had previously been acquitted.18
Another independent paper,Umuseso, has been the target of similar treatment; several of its journalists were forced to flee the country,19and in August 2006, Rwanda’s highest court upheld a ruling imposing a one-year suspended prisonsentence and ordering editor Charles Kabonero to pay the equivalent of US$2,000 damages for defamingthe deputy speaker of parliament in a 2004 article.20
Reporters Without Borders reported in August 2006,that Bosco Gasasira, the editor of the weekly Umuvugizi, had been receiving threatening phone calls andhad been under surveillance by military intelligence for criticizing Economy and Finance Minister, JamesMusoni.21 The director of Umurabyo was jailed in January 2007 for publishing an anonymous letter thatcriticized the administration of President Kagame.22 In March 2009, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concerns over reports that the Rwandan government had subjected journalists critical ofgovernment policies to intimidation and harassment and had charged other journalists with “divisionism,”a crime vaguely defined under Rwandan law as spreading ideas that encourage ethnic animosity betweenthe country’s Tutsi and Hutu populations.
The Government of Rwanda has begun preparing a new law governing the media. This reportedly containsprovisions criminalising non-disclosure of journalists’ sources, and will require editors to hold master’sdegree qualifications in journalism and/or media. It is thought that the law will cause the closure of manyof the already struggling independent local media. The recent legislation, currently awaiting presidentialapproval, would make defamation a criminal offence in addition to other civil and administrative sanctions,and would impose a wide range of restrictions on gathering and reporting information.
(ii) Freedom of association and assemblyThe Constitution recognizes freedom of association, but it is restricted in practice, and again the expression“such freedom shall be exercised under conditions prescribed by law” appears (Art. 35) Rwandan lawprotects the right to form, join, and participate in trade unions; however, unions must follow the sameonerous certification and registration process as other NGOs.
Overall, trade unions are able to advocatefor the interests of their members to a limited degree. Freedom of assembly has rather weak protectionunder the Constitution (Art. 36); it is guaranteed “within the limits fixed by law”23), and is not fully guaranteedin practice. Protests and demonstrations in support of RPF or government policies occur on a regularbasis.
To hold a demonstration, the sponsoring groups must apply for a permit. Between 2004 and 2007,no demonstrations against government policies or critiquing the RPF had taken place.(c) Rule of law and the independence of the judiciaryThe constitution commits the state to observe the rule of law. The rule of law underlies the principle oflegality, and is critical to the supremacy of the constitution. It requires that all laws must be compatiblewith the constitution, and state policies and administration must be compatible with the constitution aswell as laws. State power can only be exercised in accordance with the constitution and valid laws.
Therule of law is also critical to the protection and enforcement of fundamental rights—and the effectivefunctioning of the economy.The rule of law depends on the general respect for the constitution and laws. The government and otheragencies of the state must be committed to the principle of legality. Courts, as the primary interpreter andenforcers of the constitution and the law, must be free, impartial and competent. So should the prosecutorialauthorities. The law must be accessible to the people.
Access to justice in a broader sense must beensured, including access to legal advice and representation. Most of these elements are provided in theconstitution. Rwanda had made great strides in building the infrastructure of the rule of law. However, therefusal to incorporate some experienced Hutu judges and prosecutors, who remained in the country orwho returned after the RPF’s victory, as well as the arrest, assassination or departure into exile of anumber of them, has led to a lack of experienced personnel.
However, despitesome reports that transparency and efficiency of the military justice system are improving, prosecutionand punishment seem to remain rather the exception than the rule. Recently President Kagame wasgranted immunity for any offences he may have committed prior to his impending retirement (the CHRIunderstands that the immunity would cover war crimes and crimes against immunity).The Arusha Tribunal has expressed doubts about justice in Rwanda Courts, at least in cases involvingcharges of genocide.
They have expressed concern about the safety of witnesses because of reports ofharassment, detention and even murder of witnesses or potential witnesses. And according to the 2006 Rwandan Senate report, questioning the legitimacy of the detention of a Hutu is one manifestation of“genocide ideology”. In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, witnesses who appeared forthe defence at the Tribunal, were arrested after their return to Rwanda.
The House of Lords in the UK has also blocked extradition to Rwanda on the ground that the accused would not receive justice. It said that “the question whether a court is independent and impartial cannotbe answered without considering the qualities of the political frame in which it is located. We have had noday-by-day details from the GoR of the conduct of the Rwandan High Court’s business. No details oftrials; of defences run, successfully or unsuccessfully; no details of any of the myriad events that show acourt is working justly.
We have reached a firm conclusion as to the gravity of the problems that wouldface these appellants as regards witnesses if they were returned for trial in Rwanda. Those very problemsdo not promise well for the judiciary’s impartiality and independence. The general evidence as to thenature of the Rwandan polity offers no better promise.
When one adds all the particular evidence wehave described touching the justice system, we are driven to conclude that if these appellants werereturned there would be a real risk that they would suffer a flagrant denial of justice”.24Rwanda has a small and for the most part, inexperienced legal profession.
Many members are providinga useful service to the community. It has its own association which is committed to the independence andethics of the profession. Its members provide free or inexpensive legal assistance to those who cannotafford it (although there are difficulties of getting legal advice and representation in political chargedcases).
In recent months, the independence of the profession has come under threat of governmentintervention, under proposals for a new law governing the profession, which would increase therepresentation of the government in its governing council and make inroads into lawyer-client confidentiality.(i) Gacaca courts and transitional justiceA particular problem for Rwanda’s justice system is the persistence of gacaca courts (based loosely ontraditional conflict resolution mechanisms) which were established to try complex genocide cases. Thedilemma the government faced was that the international tribunal at Arusha could deal with only a limitednumber of accused, and that at great cost.
Yet there were thousands of persons who had participated inthe genocide who had also to be brought to justice. Given the limited resources and a preference forreconciliation, it was decided to use the gacaca courts.The government began implementing gacaca courts in 2005 following a pilot phase, reforms, andnumerous delays.
In 2002, the government had decided to implement the courts to try the bulk ofgenocide cases. In March 2005, following the preliminary phase of trials, approximately 761,000 suspectsstood accused of genocide.25 The majority of these suspects remain in their communities as the gacacacourts continue trials; however, unknown numbers have been arrested or rearrested and returned toprison. The use of these courts has gone on well beyond the original date; and increasing numbers ofpersons who were expected to be tried by the formal courts have now been transferred to the jurisdictionof the gacaca courts, and it is likely that they will continue for some years to come.
A number of studiesof their operation have pointed to major deficiencies: the lack of any formal training of judges, theirrelative lack of independence, few formal rules of procedure, and fears of victimization, and lack ofsecurity for witnesses. A 2009 report by HRW, noting that in 2008 the government shifted thousands ofthe most serious genocide cases from conventional courts to gacaca courts, commented that instancesof faulty procedure, judicial corruption, and false accusations undermine trust in gacaca jurisdictionsamong victims as well as the accused. The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed similarreservations about these courts.Understandably, achieving justice for the 1994 genocide remains a huge problem.
The vast majority ofsurvivors and families of those who were killed have yet to receive any reparations. Large numbers ofsurvivors, especially women—many of whom were raped during the genocide and suffer from AIDS—livein extreme poverty. Many Rwandans continue to suffer the effects of trauma. The government hasestablished a Fund for Assistance to Genocide Survivors that provides some support to defray the costsof education and health care.
However, a law on reparations has never been finalized and the lawestablishing the provision of a fund for legal aid has yet to be realised. With the launching of Gacacacourts nationwide in 2005, many segments of society began to feel less secure. In some regions, genocidesurvivors have been threatened by people who did not want to be accused of genocide crimes, andgacaca judges have been threatened or harassed.
Transitional justice has been and continues to belargely one-sided as Gacaca will not be used to prosecute alleged revenge killings or war crimes by theRPF in Rwanda between 1990 and 1995 or in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1996and 2000.(d) Civil SocietyThe importance of civil society (for its positive impact on democracy and accountability as well asculture and arts) and its participation in the affairs of the Commonwealth are emphasised in the HarareDeclaration. Civil society in Rwanda is very weak.
Repercussions of the 1994 genocide continue to befelt through restrictive and vague laws and broad concepts like “genocide ideology” which have beenused to silence opposition, dissent and criticism of the government. All of the members of Rwandancivil society who were spoken to in the course of interviewing, researching and writing this reportfeared retaliation from the authorities if they were directly quoted or cited.
Similarly, many internationalorganizations and foreigners working in Rwanda were afraid that they would be denied visas andrestrictions would be placed on the functions and operations of their organisations. The restrictions onthe freedom of expression and association mentioned in this report have had a very negative impacton civil society organizations.At the end of June 2004, a report by a parliamentary commission on genocide ideology recommendedthe dissolution of several international and local NGOs that “preached genocidal ideology and ethnichatred.”
The organizations mentioned in the list included the only local human rights organization willingto criticize the government publicly and document human rights abuses committed by governmentauthorities. Almost all the local organizations named in the report ceased to operate between July 2004and January 2005. In 2006, all international NGOs and local civil society organizations with ties to France,or which promoted the French language or culture, were either ejected from the country or forced to closefollowing the diplomatic row over the indictment of several RPF leaders by a court in France overseen bythe anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.
The effect of these events has undermined autonomouscivil society in Rwanda, as the surviving civil society organizations are very careful to avoid criticizing thegovernment, the RPF, the president, or their policies.Many of what used to be independent non-government organizations are now essentially governmentorganized non-government organizations (or GONGOs). Those remaining independent organizationsoften, like the media, practice self-censorship in order to be able to continue working and receiving foreignfunding.
This climate is then aggravated by a judiciary and legal system in which there have in the pastbeen allegations of executive interference and where the presumption of innocence is not even necessarily deemed applicable to all types of cases. Moreover, there is little access to justice on the basis of allegedkillings at the hands of the returning RPF forces, after the end of the 1994 genocide. Furthermore, debatearound these deaths risks prosecution for promoting divisionism, negating genocide or indeed, promotinggenocide ideology.
It is no wonder in such a situation that members of Rwandan civil society may leavethe country or refer with some cynicism to what could be referred to as the government policy of“one Rwanda”.(e) International relationsAs an association of both governments and people, the issue of inter-state relations has considerablesignificance for the Commonwealth.
The Harare Declaration expresses the Commonwealth’s interest ininternational understanding, co-operation and world peace. Before the Commonwealth makes a decisionon Rwanda’s admission, it should scrutinise Rwanda’s record in this regard. It would seem that for avariety of reasons the Rwanda government, which maintains a large army, has made military incursionsabroad, particularly into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rwanda’s intervention has been amajor source of instability in the DRC, and has caused great suffering to communities living there,particularly the eastern part.
The Rwanda government has also refused to co-operate with countries where prosecuting authoritieshave issued warrants against its senior party or military officials for crimes against humanity. It has closedembassies of “offending” states, and victimised NGOs from those countries operating in Rwanda—whichalso casts doubts on its commitment to civil society.V Considerations for a policy on admissionAs a Commonwealth human rights organization, CHRI’s primary concern is with the situation of humanrights and democracy.
This report show that across various areas Rwanda’s standards fall short ofthose proclaimed by the Commonwealth. There is particular concern with the monopolistic role of thestate in propagating versions of history and inter-community relations, which stifles free speech andfree enquiry. The restrictions on the freedom of expression and of the media are serious impedimentsto democratic rights and practices in general, and the accountability of the government in particular.The legal framework and the fear within which social and human rights organizations operate hasgreatly weakened civil society.
In some critical aspects, the judicial system has had major flaws,especially the continuing jurisdiction of the Gacaca courts over genocide cases. Such findings leadlogically to the conclusion that Rwanda does not currently meet the pre-conditions for membershipwithin the Commonwealth and should not be admitted. But there other policy issues relating to admission,and we turn to their consideration.Admitting Rwanda has broad-reaching implications for the Commonwealth.
New members from nontraditional Commonwealth membership backgrounds bring with them many positive attributes and learningthat can influence and expand the depth and experience of the inter-governmental organization. Rwanda’smembership will no doubt increase the diversity within the Commonwealth. It will also increase the numberof member states.The fact that Rwanda is anxious to join the Commonwealth may be seen as adding to the prestige of theCommonwealth (although the Commonwealth and particularly the UK should resist gloating over theanti-French attitudes of the Rwanda government).
The much published efficiency and lower levels ofcorruption in the Rwanda government may set a good example for the Commonwealth countries lackingin these qualities. Its experiment in non-ethnic approaches to the ideology and organization of the may beof particular interest to the numerous countries of the Commonwealth. We understand that sections ofthe business community in some Commonwealth countries believe that Rwandan membership wouldimprove their prospects of investment in, and strengthen economic relations with, Rwanda. The shift toaspects of the common law might also make transactions easier for it.But the expansion of membership will change the character of the Commonwealth.
Expanding membershipcan potentially bring with it states with poor human rights records, suppressed civil society, flawedgovernance structures and failures of democracy, which will undoubtedly have the effect of dampeningCommonwealth principles rather than strengthening them. The accommodation of new members at thelevel of inter-state relations may not pose major problems, though further increase in members will affectthe informal style of the working of the official Commonwealth, with the implicit and now explicit commitmentto valuable underlying principles. Integration at the level of civil society may be harder (a matter of specialinterest to CHRI).
A Commonwealth with uneven integration across member states of its various civilsociety organizations will certainly reduce its significance as the Commonwealth of peoples. From thatperspective, the distinction between the Commonwealth and other inter-state organizations will diminish—and so will the rationale for the Commonwealth.
There is also the question of the motives of an applicant. As well as we could fathom, the reasons thatRwanda wishes to join the Commonwealth have to do with its desire to further distance itself from France,link itself to the English speaking world, and strengthen its relations with its immediate neighbours (Kenya,Tanzania, and Uganda) with whom it shares several cultural traditions and now growing economic ties.
It also sees the Commonwealth as offering opportunities for higher education (particularly withCommonwealth scholarships) and new commercial, trading, and economic advantages and relations.Rwanda has also expressed an interest in learning more about the common law and its constructiveintegration with the francophone civil law. Some of our respondents told us that the Rwandan Governmenthopes to achieve a measure of legitimacy through Commonwealth membership, particularly by pointingthat its meets the Commonwealth’s high standards of human rights and democracy.
Rwanda’s global contacts would be facilitated by interaction with several, far-flung parts of the Commonwealth. It could beargued that many of these advantages could be secured without the membership of the Commonwealth;and help from members of the Commonwealth could be forthcoming even without full membership.As a Commonwealth human rights organization, our primary concern is with the situation of human rightsand democracy—which as we have already suggested, is one of two criteria on which there is doubt. Oursubsequent discussion of this has highlighted various areas where Rwanda’s standards fall short ofthose proclaimed by the Commonwealth.
There is particular concern with the monopolistic role of thestate in propagating versions of history and inter-community relations, which stifles free speech and freeenquiry. The restrictions on the freedom of expression and of the media are serious impediments todemocratic rights and practices in general, and the accountability of the government in particular.
Thelegal framework and the fear within which social and human rights organizations operate has greatlyweakened civil society. In some critical aspects, the judicial system has had major flaws, especially therole of the Gacaca courts.We realize of course that Rwanda has gone through a most horrendous experience of political instability,violence and genocide. Many of the shortcomings that we have noted can be explained as the result ofthis experience—and by the anxiety of the state to avoid a repeat of the terrible killings.
We have notedthe efforts of the government to establish a system of governance that emphasizes conciliation andpower sharing, a due process based the legal and judicial system, and the framework of institutions forthe protection of rights, including a human rights commission. The practice does not always live up tothese ideals (as we have also tried to demonstrate).
This is in part due to the inherent difficulties ofestablishing a new constitutional and political order after forms of extreme violence and societal polarization,and in part due to state policies.Our conclusion is that the state of governance and human rights in Rwanda does not satisfy Commonwealthstandards. Rwanda does not therefore qualify for admission to the Commonwealth. It has been arguedthat neither do several existing members.
Unfortunately, that is certainly true. But there is an importantdifference between these states and Rwanda. They became members by virtue of past history of Britishcolonialism and the convention of more or less automatic membership of the Commonwealth. Until theHarare Declaration, there were no formalized standards of Commonwealth values. Governments of memberstates which deviate seriously from these standards are now subject to disciplinary measures, including suspension or even exclusion (although the last option has not been exercised so far, on the assumptionthat exclusion would be unfair to the people of the state, who may themselves be victims of violations).
Suspension is lifted only when the deviant practices have been abandoned.Under the framework of these rules and procedures, it does not make sense to admit a state whichalready does not satisfy Commonwealth standards.
One, admitting such a state would tarnish the reputationof the Commonwealth and give the impression that leaders of its governments do not really care fordemocracy and human rights, and that its periodic, solemn declarations are merely hot air.
Second, theadmission of a state below standards will lower the “average”, as it were, of the Commonwealth commitmentto democracy and human rights when it come to its decisions on sanctions against defaulting existingmembers, increasing the number of states who have shown little regard for human rights.
Third, if theCommonwealth admits a state below standards, it would have to welcome the new member, if it is to stickto its self-proclaimed values, by criticizing its democratic and human rights record and considering sanctions.
Fourth, the admission of new members with a poor record will drive a wedge between the governmentsand peoples of the government, and reduce the Commonwealth merely to a trade union of governments.Having said that, we return to the extreme violence among, and the suffering of the Rwanda people,acknowledge the considerable progress under the present regime, and its public commitment to democracy,fairness, and human rights.
And its traditional ties with some Commonwealth members in its region,which are likely to become closer. So the CHRI proposes that the GHOGM should welcome Rwanda’sapplication. But, in the fashion of the EU when considering applications for membership, the Commonwealthshould reiterate its values, identify ways in which Rwanda falls short of them, and ask it to remedy thedeficiencies (even offering to assist).
Once it is satisfied that appropriate laws and practices have beeninstituted, Rwanda should be welcomed to the Commonwealth. Rwanda can make important contributionto the Commonwealth, just as the Commonwealth can enrich Rwanda’s public and private sectors. Theadmission of Cameroon was made subject to its satisfying the Commonwealth values and standards aswas the re-admission of Fiji after the first coup.VI Recommendations CHRI makes two recommendations—one is general relating to the process for admission of new members, and the other specific to Rwanda.
I (a) This report has commented on the lack of a mechanism to establish that the people of an applicantstate seek or support membership and that the state satisfies the test of Commonwealth values. CHRIconsiders that now is the time to deal with this lacuna, before further applications are received. Wetherefore urge the next CHOGM to address these two issues before it proceeds to the consideration ofthe Rwanda application.
We propose that an independent commission of eminent Commonwealth elderstatespersons, representatives of leading pan-Commonwealth NGOs, and experts on the applicant countryshould be set up to review the application and report to the Heads of Government. It would subject theapplicant to rigorous scrutiny of its human rights and democracy record and engage with its civil society,trade unions, political parties, universities and so on to obtain a sense of public opinion.
The commissionshould have resources to prepare background materials to inform the people of the applicant state thehistory and significance of the Commonwealth and the rights and obligations of membership. If necessary,it should commission studies on the country’s legal, economic and social systems (to educate theCommonwealth on the potential new member and enable its communities to assess the eligibility of theapplicant)—in a rudimentary form, this was done in respect of Fiji’s re-admission after it adopted a newdemocratic constitution after the coup.
Unless this is done, there is the danger that the Commonwealthcould slide into debased standards, and lose its attraction to the people of the Commonwealth—and thereputation of the organisation.I (b) with the prospect of new applications, now is the time for renewed debate on the nature and future ofthe Commonwealth. The world has changed very significantly in recent decades. there has been a biggrowth of new regional and international organisations.
What is the relevance of these developments forthe Commonwealth? What will the Commonwealth gain from aspirations to become a universal organisation? What will be the effect of the admission of states without a history or understanding of the Commonwealth? These and other questions should be addressed in the first instance by a commission established jointly by Commonwealth governments and civil society. its report should be disseminated widely and debates by the public.
II This report has made it clear that Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values. There areconsiderable doubts about the commitment of the current regime to human rights and democracy. It hasnot hesitated to use violence at home or abroad when it has suited it. Consequently its admission wouldsend the signal, loud and clear, that the commitment of the governments of the Commonwealth countriesto its values is shallow.
We therefore suggest that the next CHPGM make no decision on the applicantother than to set up a procedure to examine the eligibility of Rwanda for membership and the consequencesfor the Commonwealth of the expansion in its members. In consultation with Commonwealth civil societyit should set up the commission proposed in the previous paragraph to initiate this discussion. It shouldreport within a year of its appointment. Its report and recommendation should be the basis of negotiationswith Rwanda.
Rwanda should be informed accordingly.15VII Annexure - List of Organisations ConsultedMINISTRY OF INTERNAL SECURITYMINISTER OF JUSTICE, MINISTRY OF JUSTICEHUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONCOMMISSION ON UNITY AND RECONCILIATIONCOMMISSION ON THE PREVENTION OF GENOCIDERWANDA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATIONRWANDA BAR ASSOCIATIONRWANDAN CIVIL SOCIETY FORUMLEGAL AID FORUMAJPRODHOCAURACESTRARHAGURUKAHUMAN RIGHTS FIRSTTHE LEGAL CLINIC (nUr)THE KIGALI BAR ASSOCIATIONNORWEGIAN’S PEOPLE’S AIDLIPRODHURLDGLIRDPHUMAN RIGHTS WATCHTHE DANISH INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTSBRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATIONVOICE OF AMERICAADVOCATS SANS FRONTIERESUMUSASOPENAL REFORM INTERNATIONALRCNDFIDECOMMONWEALTH POLICY STUDIES UNITCOMMONWEALTH FOUNDATIONEMBASSY OF UNITED KINGDOMUNDP16
1 The Mission was led by Professor Yash Ghai, member of the Advisory Council of CHRI, and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights inCambodia, and Lucy Mathieson, Human Rights Advocacy Programme Coordinator of CHRI.2 While Fiji was scrutinised in 2009, for failure of the interim government to hold parliamentary elections, Sri Lanka was not, despite allegations of war crimes against its civiliansin its military attacks against the LTTE.3 Submission from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative to the Working Committee on Commonwealth Membership (November 2006).4 See Gérard Prunier’s The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (1995) and Alison Des Forges, Leave No One to tell the Story (1999), which link this colonial history to thepresent predicament of Rwanda.5 Professor Rene Lemarchand, a leading scholar of Rwanda and Burundi, writes, “Widely praised at first for stopping the genocide, the virtuous image projected by the FPR isnow being seriously dented: there is a growing body of evidence pointing to its involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in eastern Congo, for its allegedparticipation in the military operation that brought down Habyarimana’s plane, and more generally for its responsibility in the 1994 genocide” (Rwanda: The State of Research,2007: page 12).
Several countries have issued warrants against senior members of the RPF for crimes against humanity.6 Alison Des Forges, well known for her scholarship on Rwanda, wrote that with the capture of Kigali by Paul Kagame’s FPR, on July 4, 1994, the killings of Tutsi finally cameto a halt - but not the killings of Hutu.
Just as in the course of the civil war, a large numbers of Hutu civilians were deliberately massacred by FPR troops - a fact substantiatedin the so-called Gersony report, after the UN official who investigated the killings - after the defeat of the génocidaires an even greater number of Hutu lost their lives within andoutside Rwanda at the hands of the FPR (in Leave No One to tell the Story (1999: 726-34)).7 Law no. 33bis/2003 of 06/09/2003 punishing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, article 4, found at http://droit.francophonie.org/doc/orig/rw/loi/fr/2003/2003dfrwlgfr1/2003dfrwlgfr1.pdf [Human Rights Watch “Law and Reality” (July 24, 2008) at http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62097/section/8 (last accessed on 16 June 2009)].8 Law no. 33bis/2003 of 06/09/2003, article 4 and law no. 47/2001, article 1, paragraph 2 and article 3, paragraph 2, articles 5 and 15 [Human Rights Watch “Law and Reality”(July 24, 2008) at http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62097/section/8 (last accessed on 16 June 2009)].9 During the commemoration of the victims of genocide in 2009, for the first time since 1994, reference was made to ethnic differentiation, where posters in Kigali, advertising andcommemorating memorial activities, refer to the genocide against the Tutsi. Since then there has been discussion of a constitutional amendment to this effect.10 Gérard Prunier, “Rwanda – Pain of a Nation” BBC: Focus on Africa, April-June 2009.11 In accordance with EU election observation methodology, the EU EOM to Rwanda assessed the conduct of the legislative elections in line with international standards forelections, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Rwanda ratified in 1966 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights(1981).
Also applicable is the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (2002).12 See for example, Filip Reyntjens, “Post-1994 Politics in Rwanda: Problematising ‘Liberation’ and ‘Democratisation’,” Third World Quarterly 27, no. 6 (2006).13 “Rwanda—Events of 2006” (New York: Human Rights Watch [HRW], 2007) at http://hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/rwanda14782.htm (last accessed on 7 February2007).
14 “Rwanda Country Report,” in Attacks on the Press in 2005 (New York: Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ], 2006).15 “Radio France Internationale Censored” (CPJ, 2006) at http://www.cpj.org/cases06/africa_cases_06/rwanda27nov06ca.html (last accessed on 19 December 2006).16 After it broadcast a “trailer” for an airing of Imvo n’imvano that was to include a debate on forgiveness.
This included comments by a former presidential candidate, FaustinTwagiramungu, opposing the government’s attempt to have the country’s entire Hutu population apologize for the genocide, since not all had participated. It also included a manof mixed Hutu-Tutsi ethnicity questioning why the government had refused to allow relatives of those killed by the RPF forces to grieve for their loved ones.
According toestimates UN High Commissioner for Refugees experts, the group’s soldiers killed between 25,000 and 45,000 people between April and August 1994.17 Ibid.18 “Rwandan Journalist Freed after 11 Months in Jail” (CPJ, 2006) at http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/rwanda31july06na.html (last accessed on 19 December 2006).19 Ibid.20 “High Court Upholds One-Year Suspended Sentence and Heavy Fine for Editor Who Published Political Analysis” (RSF, 2006), at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12964(last accessed on 19 December 2006).21 “Umuvugizi Editor Latest Target in Harassment of Independent Press” (RSF, 2006) at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18505 (last accessed on 19 December 2006).22 “In Rwanda, Newspaper Director Jailed for Publishing Critical Letter” (CPJ, 16 January 2007) at http://www.cpj.org/news/2007/africa/rwanda16jan07na.html (last accessed on21 February 2007).23 This is our translation from the French rather than the official English version “if it is not inconsistent with the law”.24 (Brown (aka Bajinja) & Ors v. The Government of Rwanda Secretary & ana  EWHC 770 (Admin).25 Rwanda’s incursions into neighbouring countries are analysed in great detail in forthcoming book by Professor Filip Reyntiens published by Cambridge University Press.26 In February 2008 a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for 40 Rwandan Defence Force officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Spanish,Rwandan, and Congolese citizens in the 1990s.
The prosecution is based on both domestic law and universal jurisdiction, a doctrine which permits national courts to prosecutethe most heinous crimes committed abroad. Rwandan authorities mobilized African governments against such judicial action, labelling it neo-colonialist. In 2006, Rwanda brokerelations with France after a judge issued warrants against nine RDF officers. In August 2008 Rwanda published a report charging French involvement in the genocide andannounced possible prosecutions of French citizens.
In November Germany arrested Rose Kabuye, one of the nine, on a French warrant. Rwanda immediately expelled theGerman ambassador and organized protest demonstrations in Rwanda and abroad (Human Rights Watch 2009).CHRI ProgrammesCHRI’s work is based on the belief that for human rights, genuine democracy and development to become areality in people’s lives, there must be high standards and functional mechanisms for accountability andparticipation within the Commonwealth and its member countries.
Accordingly, in addition to a broad humanrights advocacy programme, CHRI advocates access to information and access to justice. It does this throughresearch, publications, workshops, information dissemination and advocacy.Human Rights Advocacy:CHRI makes regular submissions to official Commonwealth bodies and member governments. From time totime CHRI conducts fact finding missions and since 1995, has sent missions to Nigeria, Zambia, Fiji Islandsand Sierra Leone. CHRI also coordinates the Commonwealth Human Rights Network, which brings togetherdiverse groups to build their collective power to advocate for human rights. CHRI’s Media Unit also ensuresthat human rights issues are in the public consciousness.
Access to Information:CHRI catalyses civil society and governments to take action, acts as a hub of technical expertise in support ofstrong legislation, and assists partners with implementation of good practice. CHRI works collaboratively withlocal groups and officials, building government and civil society capacity as well as advocating with policymakers.CHRI is active in South Asia, most recently supporting the successful campaign for a national law inIndia; provides legal drafting support and inputs in Africa; and in the Pacific, works with regional and nationalorganisations to catalyse interest in access legislation.
Access to Justice:Police Reforms: In too many countries the police are seen as oppressive instruments of state rather than asprotectors of citizens’ rights, leading to widespread rights violations and denial of justice. CHRI promotessystemic reform so that police act as upholders of the rule of law rather than as instruments of the currentregime. In India, CHRI’s programme aims at mobilising public support for police reform. In East Africa andGhana, CHRI is examining police accountability issues and political interference.
Prison Reforms: CHRI’s work is focused on increasing transparency of a traditionally closed system and exposingmalpractice. A major area is focused on highlighting failures of the legal system that result in terrible overcrowdingand unconscionably long pre-trial detention and prison overstays, and engaging in interventions to ease this.
Another area of concentration is aimed at reviving the prison oversight systems that have completely failed. Webelieve that attention to these areas will bring improvements to the administration of prisons as well as have aknock on effect on the administration of justice overall.COMMONWEALTH HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVEB-117, IInd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi - 110 017Tel.: +91-(0)11 2686 4671, 2685 0523Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 firstname.lastname@example.org; www.humanrightsinitiative.orgRwanda’s application for the membership of the Commonwealth raises the question, more generally, of how qualifications for membership are prescribed and determined.
More specifically, whether Rwanda meets the prescribed criteria, in particular the standards of democracy and human rights as enshrined within the Harare Declaration. Opening upmembership, has broad-reaching implications for the Commonwealth as a whole. New members from non-traditional Commonwealth membership backgrounds bring with them many positive attributes and learning that can influence and expand the depth and experience of the inter-governmental organization.
However, expanding membership can potentially also bring with it States’ with poor human rights records, suppressed civil society, flawed governance structures and failures ofdemocracy, which will undoubtedly have the effect of dampening Commonwealth principles rather than strengthening them. Within such a context, there is a need for great care and analysis to be undertaken in assessing applications for membership.
A careful balancing needs to occur so as to be able to follow a transparent and participativeapplication procedure, which resonates deeply from within the Commonwealth’s own values, specifically the Harare Declaration. It is in this vein that the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) proceeded to undertake a fact-finding into the human rights situation in Rwanda.
Aware that the Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a similarprocess during 2008, the findings of which were articulated in a confidential report, CHRI saw the value within the rubric of a rights-based approach, to facilitate a Commonwealth civil society report on Rwanda,which would be situated in a grass-roots analysis of the human rights context within the country and encapsulate analysis of the constitutionalframework within Rwanda.
In this respect, the investigation and this report is based almost wholly on a human rights assessment as framed around the principles contained within the Harare Declaration.
The Truth can be buried and stomped into the ground where none can see, yet eventually it will, like a seed, break through the surface once again far more potent than ever, and Nothing can stop it. Truth can be suppressed for a "time", yet It cannot be destroyed. ==> Wolverine
Rescue War orphans
Human and Civil Rights
Gén. D. Tauzin Demande Justice
Prof. Allan C. Stam
Prof. Christian Davenport
Drame rwandais- justice impartiale
Sheltering 2,5 million refugees
Rwanda's Untold Story
Rwanda, un génocide en questions
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