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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



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 Sudanese Asylum-Seekers to Uganda. In October 2017, Israel announced that it would start deporting Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to an unnamed “third country” in Africa …

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 refugee crisis”, Amnesty International said today as the Israeli Supreme Court considers new evidence on the legality of the policy. Israel has allegedly reached agreements …

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

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 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

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 intelligence were not investigated. Military support from Rwanda to the M23 armed group in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) tarnished Rwanda's international …

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.

October 9, 2012 • Press Release

Amnesty International Reports Illegal Detentions, Enforced Disappearances and Torture of Civilians by Rwandan Military Intelligence

Rwanda’s military intelligence, known as J2, has illegally held scores of civilians in military camps where they allegedly were beaten and subjected to electric shocks and sensory deprivation to force confessions during interrogations, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

July 11, 2012 • Press Release

U.N. Must Pressure Rwanda to End Support for Rebel Group in DRC

The Rwandan government must stop providing support for the M23 armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province.