January 26, 2021

Questions Rwanda Had to Answer at UN Human Rights Review Session


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A Rwandan delegation appeared virtually on Monday at the ongoing Universal Periodic Review in Geneve, to defend the government’s human rights record. The delegation, all in their Kigali offices during the session included; Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye as head, Local Government Minister Prof Anastase Shyaka, and CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board, Dr Uster Kayitesi.

At the session, Busingye read the full 21-page report which government had submitted earlier in November last year, in preparation for Monday’s session. The report gives specific details in response to concerns that have cast a shadow over the country for years, especially raised by Rwanda’s donor and rights groups.

As is the procedure at the UPR session, member states had also submitted questions beforehand, which had to be answered either during the session, or as part of the official report. You can read the FULL GoR REPORT HERE

Here are the questions that other states put to Rwanda;

LIECHTENSTEIN

What steps has Rwanda taken to join the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, as elaborated by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT)?

What steps has Rwanda taken to ratify the Rome Statute in its 2010 version?

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Have laws and government orders improved the conditions in transit centers, specifically the lack of access to family for detainees, and reports of beatings and abuse of detainees? If so, what evidence supports these improvements? What is the government doing to proactively screen and identify victims of trafficking in persons at transit centers?

How does the government ensure the National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda has the independence to conduct credible and transparent investigations into alleged human rights violations by state actors? Has the National Commission for Human Rights released any reports on its investigations?

What specific actions has the Rwandan Investigation Bureau taken, in cooperation with the National Commission for Human Rights, to investigate disappearances and deaths under suspicious circumstances?

What is the Government of Rwanda doing to protect Rwandans’ ability to safely exercise their rights to freedom of religion, association, assembly, and expression?
How has the government strengthened the justice system to prevent political influence in high profile cases? What has the government done to ensure detainees have due process rights and access to visits by legal counsel and family?

What is the government of Rwanda doing to reduce discrimination against and increase accessibility for persons with disabilities in the country’s social, economic and educational systems?

SWEDEN

Despite the reform of the NGO laws in 2012, the registration process remains overly burdensome. We understand that this law is currently under review. What measures are foreseen to ensure that civil society organizations can carry out their activities without hindrances and to ensure a less cumbersome registration process?

What measures has the government of Rwanda undertaken to ensure the fulfilment of all individual’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, including information and access to modern methods of contraception and safe and legal abortions, and what further measures will be taken to protect women and girls from being reported and arrested or imprisoned for unsafe abortion?

We note that Rwanda has made progress in strengthening its legislation with the removal of some defamation offences from the revised Penal Code in 2018. What steps will be taken in order to continue the review of legal provisions unduly restricting freedom of expression and media freedom, and what measures will be taken to ensure the safety of journalists?

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND

What progress has the Government of Rwanda made towards meeting its commitment made during its last Review, namely to ensure the National Commission for Human Rights establishes a National Preventative Mechanism in line with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture?

What steps is the Government of Rwanda taking to conduct credible, transparent and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial and summary executions, including steps informed by the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death?

In the context of media freedom, what provisions has the Government of Rwanda put in place to ensure compliance by all state authorities with information requests, in line with the Access to Information Law, and what further steps will the Government commit to taking?

What steps is the Government of Rwanda taking to ensure access to justice for the poorest in its society, particularly those who are dispossessed, such as those evicted from their homes since November 2019, many of whom are yet to receive compensation?

Will the Government bring its operations in the Gikondo transit centre in line with the provisions of recent legislation and Ministerial orders, investigate persistent allegations of human rights violations, including against minors and LGBT persons, and ensure those responsible are held to account?

BELGIUM

Depuis 2011, le Rwanda propose une invitation permanente à toutes les procédures spéciales thématiques du Haut-Commissariat. Le gouvernement du Rwanda, envisage-t-il de répondre favorablement à la demande de visite de la part du Groupe de Travail sur les disparitions forcées ou involontaires? Le gouvernement du Rwanda envisage-t-il de ratifier la Convention pour la protection de toutes les personnes contre les disparitions forcées?

En vue des engagements et obligations découlant de l’adhésion du pays à la Convention contre la Torture et son Protocole facultative, le Rwanda réfléchit-il au rétablissement de la coopération avec le Sous-Comité?

Quelles dispositions sont prévues par le gouvernement du Rwanda pour renforcer et faciliter l’accès à une éducation sexuelle complète dans les écoles et aux services de santé sexuelle et reproductive dans les centres médicaux, ainsi qu’aux contraceptifs et aux services de planning familial?

Quelles sont les mesures envisagées par le gouvernement du Rwanda pour répondre aux préoccupations du Comité des droits de l’enfant relatives aux conditions de détention des enfants, notamment la séparation entre les détenus adultes et enfants que ce soit dans les commissariats ou dans les centres de détentions?

Si toute forme de discrimination fondée sur la déficience physique ou mentale est prohibée, quelle stratégie et quels outils sont privilégiés pour faciliter l’accès à l’information pour les personnes malvoyantes et malentendantes?

GERMANY

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Rwanda is a State Party, sets out the right of everyone to adequate food. We welcome the decrease of stunting among children from 38% in 2015 to 33% in 2020 as reported by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. However, despite high economic growth, according to the FAO the number of undernourished people in RWA has almost doubled in the past decade from 2.3 million (22, 2% of population) in 2011 to 2013 to 4.4 million (35, 6%) in 2017 to 2019. What are the causes of this very concerning development and how does the Government of Rwanda plan to tackle this issue?

We commend the Government of Rwanda for progress in ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT) and establishing the National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) under the Protocol. We note with appreciation that the NPM has started reporting on detention conditions especially in mental health facilities, prisons and police stations. Could the Government provide information on detention conditions in military intelligence facilities and other undeclared detention facilities?

CANADA

What steps is Rwanda taking to implement recommendations to adopt best practices on freedom of assembly, both in law and in the application of the right in practice?

SLOVENIA

Slovenia remains concerned about the vulnerable people, like the historically marginalised indigenous people Batwa, who live in extreme poverty. What are the concrete government programs in education, housing, health, job creation and their representation in decision-making bodies?

PANAMA

In the second cycle, Panama recommended Rwanda to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. We would appreciate updated information on the progress made in the implementation of this recommendation.

Does Rwanda intend to respond positively to all pending requests for a country visit by special procedures of the Human Rights Council?

The CRC urged Rwanda to review whether the existing legislation criminalized all offences prohibited under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, take necessary legislative measures to rectify any discrepancy and to criminalize the compulsory recruitment of children in the national armed forces and non-state armed groups. We would be grateful to know about efforts made towards this end.

How does Rwanda protect civil society space and fully investigate threats against human rights defenders, journalists, and representatives of the media?

What concrete measures have been taken by Rwanda to protect persons with albinism?

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