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Rwanda: Recent Documents, Part 2
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Rwanda: Recent Documents, Part 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 950524
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH / AFRICA
485 FIFTH AVENUE
NEW YORK, NY 10017-6104
TEL: (212) 972-8400
FAX: (212) 972-0905
DES LIGUES DES DROITS DE L'HOMME
14 PASSAGE DUBAIL, PARIS 75010
TEL: (331) 40 37 54 26
FAX: (331) 44 72 05 86
APRIL 18, 1995
One Year After Genocide in Rwanda, Crisis Continues
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Michael McClintock (212) 972-8400, x227 [w] Eric Gillet
(331) 40 37 54 26 [w] Janet Fleischman (202) 371-6592, x114
One year after the genocide began in Rwanda, the crisis
continues. Despite calls for justice inside and outside the
country, no criminal trials, national or international, have
taken place. The Rwandan government is now arresting some
1,500 persons a week, producing life-threatening
overcrowding and appalling treatment in the prisons and
fostering insecurity among the population at large.
Assassinations and attempted assassinations, random
violence, and the confiscation of property all heighten this
insecurity as do incursions by armed groups loyal to the
former government from Zaire and Tanzania. Because of the
insecurity, more than two hundred thousand people huddle in
displaced persons camps, reluctant to go home. The
government plans to close the camps shortly.
In Rwanda: The Crisis Continues, released today, HRW/Africa
and FIDH charge the international community with failure to
enforce the arms embargo decreed by the U.N. Plane-loads
of weapons and ammunition have arrived in Zaire to augment
the supplies and fortify the morale of the authorities of
the former government that are guilty of the genocide. Their
troops, together with some from Hutu militia in Burundi,
train in preparation for new attacks. Meanwhile, food
supplies dwindle for the nearly two million Rwandans in
refugee camps. Even if food stocks are replenished, water
and fuel for cooking will be exhausted within six months in
Tanzania, not long after that in parts of Zaire, and these
supplies cannot be renewed. In neighboring Burundi, Hutu
and Tutsi extremists push ever closer to full-scale war,
which would set off large-scale population movements,
including across the border of Rwanda, and thus further
increase demands on the national government and the
One year to the day after the start of the killing, the
Rwandan government brought the first people accused of
genocide to court, but their cases were adjourned the same
day to permit further investigation. Hampered by lack of
resources both human and material as well as by reluctance
to confront the political ramifications of the trials, the
government has taken months to present the first defendants
to the courts. The judiciary is struggling to establish its
independence in a country where such autonomy has never
existed before. Meanwhile promises of international aid to
the judicial system have, for the most part, remained
unfulfilled, allowing international inertia to be taken as a
model and a cover for Rwandan government inaction.
Other national court systems with Rwandan fugitives within
their jurisdictions have done little better and with far
less reason for delay. The Belgians and the Swiss appear
furthest along in investigations, while the French have so
far refused to deal with complaints of genocide. The
Canadians chose to pursue the easier course of charging a
major Rwandan figure with violating immigration law rather
than prosecuting him for genocide. The South Africans have
granted political asylum to a Rwandan embassy employee who
was involved in buying arms for the former government.
Tanzania has jailed a number of leaders in the refugee camps
for incitement to riot and other crimes, but hesitates to
accuse them of participating in the slaughter in Rwanda.
Kenya, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and
particularly Zaire have permitted authorities presumably
guilty of genocide to settle within their boundaries without
acting against them. On February 27, the Security Council
"urged" rather than required states to arrest and detain
such persons pending prosecution by the International
The International Tribunal, mandated on November 8, 1994, to
examine cases of genocide and crimes against humanity in
Rwanda, is still months away from its first indictments.
Financial and bureaucratic obstacles have made it impossible
to recruit adequate staff. Only five professionals are now
assisting the prosecutor in examining the systematic
slaughter that took between one half million and one million
In the face of this continuing crisis, the U.N.
peace-keeping force (UNAMIR) is now deployed at
full-strength, but the U.N. human rights field operation is
still short of staff. So starved of funds that it nearly
folded in December, the human rights field office once again
faces shortfalls that may require it to curtail the
monitoring that contributes to security in some areas.
To the government of Rwanda:
l. End overcrowding in the prisons immediately by
transferring prisoners to other suitable facilities, by
building new detention sites, and by repairing existing
prisons in order to accommodate the prison population with
due regard to international standards.
2. Prosecute promptly those officers and soldiers
responsible for the deaths by suffocation of the detainees
held at Muhima brigade. Order and enforce an end to all
torture, beating and humiliation of detainees.
3. Set priorities for prosecuting the accused.
4. Return the power to release detainees to judges. End the
use of commissions of liberation as presently composed. If
administrative hearings are to be used to liberate
detainees, establish the commissions by law, with clearly
defined judicial powers and procedures, under the presidency
of a judge.
5. Ensure that arrests are carried out according to due
process, that the detained are kept in official prison
facilities and that their detention is recorded in registers
available to the public.
6. Ensure that the independence of the judiciary is
protected in any changes made in the procedure for naming
judges or for forming the magistrates' council. In choosing
judges, competence must be the primary criterion and equal
access for all persons, regardless of sex, religion, or
ethnic group, must be assured.
7. Recruit and train civilian guards to staff both new
detention sites and existing prisons. Use new judicial
police inspectors and the increasing number of civilian
police to make arrests. As trained civilians become
available, end the practice of using soldiers to make
arrests and to guard prisoners.
8. Use the media to make firm and repeated declarations
about the independence of the judiciary and the importance
of the rule of law. Make clear that detainees are innocent
until proven guilty and that guilt can only be established
through a free and fair judicial process.
9. If the limits on preventive detention are extended,
restrict the change to the current emergency situation and
fix a date for the expiration of the extension.
10. Investigate rapidly, effectively and in conjunction with
U.N. police the assassination of Pierre- Claver Rwangabo,
prefect of Butare, and those killed with him, and the
attempted assassination of Edouard Mutsinzi.
11. End threats and illegal demands by RPA soldiers, abakada
(RPA political officers), and other civilians associated
with them. Bring to justice those accused of such exactions.
12. Adopt legislation needed to permit the use of foreign
citizens in the Rwandan magistracy for a fixed term, on an
13. Implement the proposed program for increasing security
and providing needed support to displaced persons to
encourage their voluntary return home.
14. Provide separate detention sites or at least separate
quarters for detaineees under the age of sixteen.
15. Adopt a law creating a bar association.
To the international community:
l. Press for the establishment of an independent and
effective judiciary in Rwanda and link aid to progress in
that direction. Provide immediate assistance for building
new detention sites or repairing prisons to accommodate more
2. Enforce the arms embargo against the former Rwandan
3. Prosecute those accused of genocide within national
courts and cooperate with the International Tribunal in its
prosecutions, including arresting and delivering to the
tribunal those indicted by it.
4. Provide adequate funds and political support for the
International Tribunal, the Human Rights Field Operation,
and UNAMIR. Press for better administration of the U.N.
Human Rights Field Office.
5. Provide lawyers to defend the accused and to observe
Copies of Rwanda: The Crisis Continues, are available from
the Publications Department, Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10017-6104 for $3.60 (domestic), $4.50
Human Rights Watch/Africa Human Rights Watch is a
nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor
and promote the observance of internationally recognized
human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East
and among the signatories of the Helsinki accords.
Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme
(FIDH) The International Federation of Human Rights is an
international nongovernmental organization for the defense
of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights of 1948. Created in 1922, it includes 89
national affiliates throughout the world.
African Rights on RWANDA
"A Waste of Hope": The United Nations Human Rights Field
In post-genocide Rwanda, the creation of the United Nations
Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) represented a
moment of hope. It was the first concrete expression of
international solidarity from a world that had looked on
throughout the genocide. It represented a chance for an
embattled and impoverished government facing the difficult
but urgent task of delivering justice and reconstructing a
country devastated beyond belief. It was an opportunity to
assist a guerrilla army emerging from the brutality of a
genocide, and facing a range of formidable problems.
Finally, HRFOR represented a hope for people all over the
world who expect more from the United nations in the field
of human rights.
On paper, HRFOR has a model mandate: assisting the
investigation into the genocide, monitoring ongoing respect
for human rights, promoting confidence to facilitate the
return of refugees and internally displaced people and
helping to re-establish the basic institutions of a
judiciary, police force and prison service.
The official pronouncements of HRFOR indicate that these
objectives are all being achieved. The reality on the
ground belies this rosy picture. As this report, based on
first-hand information from the monitors themselves shows,
HRFOR has failed dismally on every count.
A complex and sensitive human rights mission such as HRFOR
required impartiality, professionalism and an integrated
mandate: it has achieved none of these things. Rudderless,
wasteful and incompetent, HRFOR has been, in the words of a
staff member, "a systematic boycott of everything that could
have made a positive contribution." Another monitor
described the mission as "a waste of time, energy and money.
But worst of all, it is a waste of hope."
It is impossible to understand the current situation in
Rwanda, or to make a contribution to resolving some of the
acute problems, without recognising the reality of the
genocide, the huge crime that profoundly colours every
individual and every event in Rwanda. Yet this is what
HRFOR has attempted to do. Investigating the genocide was
briefly on the agenda for the monitors, but now has been
designated as the exclusive responsibility for the
International Tribunal and the Rwandese judiciary. This
pushes the monitors into an extremely partial, even partisan
role: their mandate is essentially to try to prevent revenge
attacks, and protect those who are the targets of such
attacks--a role that most Rwandese perceive as highly
political. The terms of reference handed down by the UN
refer only to the needs of refugees and displaced persons.
They make no mention of the most vulnerable groups of
all--survivors of the genocide.
Normal procedures of human rights investigation, such as
protecting the anonymity of witnesses and scrupulous
checking of facts, are frequently ignored. This has
endangered survivors as well as detainees.
Political partiality is increasingly characteristic of the
HRFOR. Monitors have gone so far as to say that they
understand their mandate to be "to nail the RPA."
Increasingly, HRFOR is seen as a defence team for those
accused of participating in the genocide, and as the main
source of criticism for the record of the RPA.
Confidence-building between the government/army and
mistrustful sections of the population is, in theory, a
priority for HRFOR. But at all levels, relations between UN
human rights monitors and their counterparts in government,
the army and the gendarmerie are characterised by hostility
and mutual incomprehension.
The Technical Co-operation Programme is one area in which
HRFOR has striven to make progress. But the efforts of the
staff members assigned to this task have been undermined by
lack of support from other sections of the mission, and by
the overly technical, and hence politically naive, approach
of the Technical Co-operation staff themselves.
Rwanda's judicial institutions have been all-but destroyed.
Instead of helping the country move towards a functioning
legal system, HRFOR is impeding the government's own
investigations by helping suspects to escape justice or
refusing to hand them over to governmental authorities.
Without speedy progress towards justice, the impulses
towards indiscriminate revenge and the entrenched culture of
impunity will make for an extremely explosive political
Many of the monitors are young, inexperienced and
unqualified. They were sent to Rwanda with virtually no
training and preparation. The stories of how monitors were
recruited and dispatched to Rwanda would make for comic
fiction, were it not that the issues are so serious. In
their testimonies, the monitors describe how they were
completely unprepared for the task that confronted them.
HRFOR has so far proven to be a complete waste of resources,
both human and financial. It represents a betrayal of the
hopes of the Rwandese people and of the monitors themselves.
The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has
appealed for funds to continue the mission. This will be a
futile and counter-productive exercise unless HRFOR is
thoroughly reformed. African Rights concludes with a set of
recommendations that could enable HRFOR to play its wonted
role as protector of human rights in Rwanda.
This 63-page report can be ordered by sending $8.95 to
African Rights, 11 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1EP, UK.
Tel: 0171 717 1224, Fax: 0171 717 1240
This material is being reposted for wider distribution
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the
United States around African issues and the U.S. role
in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a
wide range of groups and individuals. APIC is
affiliated with the Washington Office on Africa (WOA),
a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights
group supported organization that works with Congress
on Africa-related legislation.