Author Topic: UN Special Rapporteur Hails Rwanda’s Genocide Recovery, Advises On Human Rights  (Read 1677 times)

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Offline mayya

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Published On: Tue, Jan 28th, 2014
featured1 / National | By gahiji

UN Special Rapporteur
Hails Rwanda’s Genocide Recovery, Advises On Human Rights
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, Maina Kiai

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, Maina Kiai, has commended Rwanda’s progress made in the last 20 years after the genocide against Tutsis, and pointed out some of the considerable measures needed for the country to promote human rights and freedom.
The UN special Rapporteur made the remarks on Monday, while addressing the media on the findings of the just concluded assessment he conducted on ‘the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly’ in the country.

In a report that was posted on UN’s Special Raporteur website, Mr. Maina Kiai said that he was honuoured by the invitation of the government to carry out his mission and commended the Government for being the first country in Africa to extend an invitation to his mandate since its establishment by the Human Rights Council in October 2010.

The UN Rapporteur was in the country to assess the country’s democraticy and freedoms, where he based on three principles which are; Freedom of peaceful assembly, Freedom of association on Non-governmental organizations operating in the country as well as freedom for Political parties.

He said that his visit to Rwanda was an opportunity to express his sympathy and wish courage to Rwandans who have stood together to rebuild the nation that had been left into ashes by the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

“As Rwanda, and indeed the world, prepare to honour the memory of the victims of the Genocide 20 years since 1994, I would like to extend my best wishes and strength to the people of Rwanda, all of whom have been touched by this most egregious of human rights violations. Bon courage,” he said.

He further said that he was humbled when I visited Rwanda during the 10th and 15th commemorations of the Genocide against the Tutsis.

“As a Special Rapporteur, I am independent from the United Nations and I work voluntarily in my personal capacity. The overarching purpose of my visit to Rwanda is to contribute to the efforts it has undertaken in its path towards democratization, greater protection of human rights, and development with recommendations as to how Rwanda can better respect, promote and implement international human rights law and standards as it applies to the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association.”

He added that: “Rwanda has come a long way since 1994. There has been remarkable progress in developing infrastructure, building institutions and ensuring stability and security. Twenty years is a short time in the life of a nation, which makes the achievements all the more outstanding.

Indeed few could have predicted that the reconstruction of the Rwandan State could have reached such broad and deep levels in 1994.  I am truly impressed by the resilience of the Rwandan people, the vibrancy of the economic sector, the relatively low levels of corruption, and efforts at providing universal healthcare and social safety nets, and the neat and clean environment. This must be recognized, and applauded.”

Following his assessment, Maina Kiai commended the government’s will to use the above progress made in implementing the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.

“In the spirit of constructive dialogue, I wish to make some preliminary observations and recommendations that the Government has assured me that it sees this as an opportunity to consolidate the progress made over the years towards the realization of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.

Rwanda has ratified key international human rights instruments and committed itself to observe them. Moreover, in 2011 during the Universal Periodic Review, Rwanda accepted all recommendations pertaining to the freedoms I am mandated to monitor,” he said.

During his assessment visit to the country, the UN Special Rapporteur met with top government officials including the Prime Minister, ministers as well as top leaders in security and justice sector where they discussed a range of issues related to rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Encouraging authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies

The UN Special Rapporteur called on authorities in the country to improve on their policies especially on facilitating peaceful assemblies in the country.
“From my meeting with the Inspector General of the Police, it came out clearly that law enforcement officials view peaceful assemblies solely as an issue of ensuring public order, instead of adopting a human rights based approach that would facilitate assemblies as an integral right of every person in Rwanda to be protected robustly.”

“Let me emphasize that peaceful assemblies should not be feared. Rather they should be encouraged for there is value in expressing disagreement and differences peacefully and publicly. Indeed, there is no better gauge of what citizens think than peaceful protests.

And it is in the interests of the state to allow public and peaceful assemblies as a “release valve” in order to avoid recourse to other means of dissent and disagreement that are not desirable. As stated by the Human Rights Council, “everyone must be able to express their grievances or aspirations in a peaceful manner, including through public protests without fear of reprisals or of being intimidated, harassed, injured… arbitrarily arrested and detained.”

However, the UN Rapporteur added that in his meeting with Justice Minister, Johnson Busingye, he was honoured by his assurance of the government’s willingness to facilitate peaceful assemblies.

“I was therefore heartened to hear the Justice Minister’s assurance which I hope can be implemented that: “if you are dissenting peacefully, please go ahead.”