February 4, 2021

Rwanda Against the World: The 284 Human Rights Recommendations from UN Review

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At the Iwawa Rehabilitation Center on lake Kivu, thousands of young men are kept for months, some for years, as they undergo reform. Hundreds have returned back to society and become successful entrepreneurs. However, critics say what happens there to these youths is human rights abuses

From calls for “compulsory” human rights training for Police to tackle “use of excessive force” by Italy, to Israel citing “worrying trend of an increase in genocide denial in Rwanda” – the country was subject of assessment by its UN peers at the 37th Universal Periodic Review in Geneva between January 25-29.

At the end of the process, Rwanda received 284 recommendations. The delegation led by Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye informed the review panel that government supported 160 recommendations, took note of 75 and but that 49 of them “did not enjoy Rwanda‘s support” – politely meaning they are rejected.

In engagement with local media, Providence Umurungi, the head of International Judicial Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Justice, who was part of the Rwandan delegation, said among the recommendations “rejected” was call to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Government also pushed back on recommendation to close youth transit centers that have attracted constant criticism from rights groups, particularly one in Kigali notoriously known as “Kwa Kabuga” or officially as ‘Gikondo Transit Center’. There are several around the country. Young people who have been there tell of horrific abuses. Government says these centers reshape delinquent youths “giving them a second chance at a normal upbringing”.

Government also informed the review panel that child soldiers have never been recruited into the country’s security forces, and therefore was not an issue to be raised.

The Chronicles has obtained the full copy of the draft report of the review process and is publishing it as is. It includes the unusually harsh attack from Rwanda’s own financial, diplomatic and political backers like the UK, US, Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada. There are even recommendations by Uganda against which Kigali is currently embroiled in a bitter geopolitical fight since late 2018. .

The Holy See or the Vatican, whose Catholic Church has the largest spread of parishes in Rwanda, wants government to find a way of dealing with “high rate of child abandonment”. The Vatican also asked government to “Continue the process of national reconciliation, so that all citizens, independent of ethnic or religious background” – which is essentially a coded repeat of the Catholic Church’s call since 2019 for release of some genocide perpetrators.

Below is full Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review:

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