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Rwanda Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

Rwandan engagements in the East Congo continue to perpetuate violence in the region. In January General Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the Congolese Tutsi militia (CNDP) was arrested and held in Rwanda. Meanwhile, the Rwandan government came to an agreement with the Congolese government to collaborate in attacking the Rwandan Hutu militia (FDLR). Roughly 7,000 Rwandan troops entered the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January 2009 to begin military operations. Amnesty International was concerned that the increase in military activity endangered the civilian population, especially after the end of the operation.

It is feared that Rwanda’s continuing support of militias is linked to participation in the trade of natural resources that has fueled the arms trade in the region. In Rwanda itself, the Kagame government, which had squelched the political process in its elections, continued to impose strict restrictions and to arrest journalists who voiced criticisms of the government. At the same time, a long held prisoner of conscience, the journalist Dominique Makeli, was released. A prisoner of conscience and journalist detained almost 12 years without trial, he was released by a Gacaca tribunal on Oct 16, 2008.

The restrictions on human rights NGOs eased somewhat, but still continued to prevent them from operating freely. Gacaca trials continued, with reports of witnesses being intimidated, and thousands arrested after their initial releases, increasing the prison population to more than 60,000 — the majority of whom remain incarcerated on charges of participating in the genocide. Many are held without any charges. The Rwandan government continues relatively frequently to charge individuals with participation in the genocide, resulting in the long-term imprisonment of opposition political candidates and the repression of the press and human rights organizations.

Prisoner of Conscience Francois-Xavier Byumba

The case of prisoner of conscience Francois-Xavier Byumba, a long-standing human rights defender and activist for an NGO dealing with children’s rights, involves a judgment of guilty in a trial Amnesty International considers unfair. Byumba, was sentenced to 19 years' imprisonment on  May 27, 2007, after an unfair trial by the gacaca community court in the Bilyogo sector of Kigali. Turengere Abana, the organisation François-Xavier Byuma chairs, had looked into allegations that the judge presiding over the trial had raped a young girl. The judge therefore had a clear conflict of interest in the trial. The Appeals court decided on August 18, 2007 that the first instance verdict should stand, and the sentence of 19 years' imprisonment would remain. The court did not motivate its verdict, and gave no explanation on whether it had considered the question of impartiality of the judge in first instance. This failure by the court amounts to a gross miscarriage of justice. Amnesty International has called for a review of this case in line with international standards of fair trial.

Rwanda Newsroom



September 20, 2021 • Press Release

Fair Trial Violations in Rusesabagina Trial Verdict Must Be Effectively Remedied in Rwanda

Commenting after Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan opposition leader, was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 25 years in jail in the Rwandan capital Kigali today, Amnesty International cited numerous violations in the pre-trial period which impacted the fairness of the trial.

June 17, 2018 • Report

Israel: African asylum-seeker deportations and “voluntary” transfers are forced and illegal

The Israeli government’s transfers of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers is cruel and illegal, Amnesty International said today, as it released a new report titled Forced and Unlawful: Israel’s Deportations of Eritrean and …

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Rwanda 2013

REPUBLIC OF RWANDA Head of state Paul Kagame The government continued to stifle legitimate freedom of expression and association. Cases of illegal detention and allegations of torture by Rwandan military …

April 4, 2013 • Report

Justice in jeopardy: The first instance trial of Victoire Ingabire

The arrest of opposition politician Victoire Ingabire after her return to Rwanda to contest the 2010 elections attracted widespread international attention. Amnesty international is urging the Rwandan authorities to ensure that her appeal meets standards under Rwandan and international law.

June 16, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Rwanda 2011

Head of state and government: Paul Kagame and Bernard Makuza Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 10.3 million Life expectancy: 51.1 years Under-5 mortality (m/f): 167/143 per 1,000 Adult …

March 26, 2011 • Report

Safer to stay silent: The chilling effect of Rwanda’s laws on ‘genocide ideology’ and ‘sectarianism’

Rwanda’s laws on “genocide ideology” and “sectarianism”, more commonly known as “divisionism”, were introduced in the decade following the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Rwanda 2010

Head of state Paul Kagame Head of government Bernard Makuza Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 10 million Life expectancy 49.7 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 167/143 per 1,000 Adult …

March 26, 2018 • Press Release

Israel: Deportation of African asylum-seekers is a cruel and misguided abandonment of responsibility

Israel’s policy of deporting African asylum-seekers to two unnamed African countries is an abdication of its responsibility to refugees and an example of the vicious political measures feeding the “global …