- The Root causes of the Rwandan Genocide
- Main reasons why Rwandan refugee are not yet read...
- What Really Happened in Rwanda?
- The salient features of Paul Kagame's dictatorshi...
- Rwanda's New Road Map
- Rwanda's Untold Story Documentary
- UK Government discrimination against Rwandan Hutu...
- Kagame’s Hutu refugee massacres and human rights violations in Rwanda and DRC
- Rwanda's Kibeaho Massacre
- Who is Who in supporting Kagame's regime ?
- Extrait Chronique d'un génocide (La partie occultée): 1994 - 1996 les massacres commis par le FPR
- President Obama's Visit And Africa's Second Uhuru
- Open Letter 2 to Andrew Mitchell MP ( Sutton Coldf...
- Rwanda genocide anniversary: Harrowing photos of 1994's 100-day mass slaughter
Why has the UN ignored its own report about the massacres of Hutu refugees in DRC ?
The UN has ignored its own reports, NGOs and media reports about the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Hutu in DRC Congo (estimated to be more than 400,000) by Kagame when he attacked Hutu refugee camps in Eastern DRC in 1996. This barbaric killings and human rights violations were perpetrated by Kagame’s RPF with the approval of UK and USA and with sympathetic understanding and knowledge of UNHCR and international NGOs which were operating in the refugees camps. According to the UN, NGO and media reports between 1993 and 2003 women and girls were raped. Men slaughtered. Refugees killed with machetes and sticks. The attacks of refugees also prevented humanitarian organisations to help many other refugees and were forced to die from cholera and other diseases. Other refugees who tried to return to Rwanda where killed on their way by RFI and did not reach their homes. No media, no UNHCR, no NGO were there to witness these massacres. When Kagame plans to kill, he makes sure no NGO and no media are prevent. Kagame always kills at night.
16 Oct 2009
Speakers include: Tom Porteous, Anneke Van Woudenberg, Carla Ferstman, Paul Gready, Kersty McCourt, Jens Meierhenrich, Karen Murphy and Don Webster. 20 March 2009
Panel 1: Human Rights & Civil Society
Speakers: Tom Gibson, Amnesty International; Anneke Van Woudenberg, Human Rights Watch; Professor Paul Gready, University of York; Kerstin McCourt, Danish Institute of Human Rights
Panel 2: State Authority & Local Agency
Panel 3: Foreign Relations
Panel 4: Reconciliation
Panel 5: Post-Genocide Justice
Panel 2: State Authority & Local AgencyPanel 3: Foreign RelationsPanel 4: ReconciliationPanel 5: Post-Genocide Justice
15 Oct 2009
“giving aid to Russia is simply ridiculous”.
“signing off a 240,000 pounds grant to set up a Brazilian dance troupe in Hackney” is a waste of British taxpayer’s money.
“giving 38 million pounds of aid to China, a country which spent 20 billion pounds on hosting the Olympics” is arrogance toward Chinese people.
But, giving aid to Kagame and Museveni to massacres Rwandans and Congolese people and to destabilize the whole Africa Great Lakes Region is criminal.
Kagame is crying for being imposed by the British to accept their foreign aid. Kagame has consistently played down the role of aid in economic development while more than 60 % of his country annual budget is from foreign aid, mainly from the British ‘s taxpayer’s money.
So, what is the rationale for the British to impose their aid to countries that do not need it.
Kagame's Hidden War in the Congo
By Howard W. French
Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
by Gérard Prunier
Oxford University Press, 529 pp., $27.95
The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa
by René Lemarchand
University of Pennsylvania Press, 327 pp., $59.95
The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality
by Thomas Turner
Zed Books, 243 pp., $32.95 (paper)
Although it has been strangely ignored in the Western press, one of the most destructive wars in modern history has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa's third-largest country. During the past eleven years millions of people have died, while armies from as many as nine different African countries fought with Congolese government forces and various rebel groups for control of land and natural resources. Much of the fighting has taken place in regions of northeastern and eastern Congo that are rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, tin, and coltan, which is used in manufacturing electronics.
Few realize that a main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda. The reason for this involvement, according to Rwandan president Paul Kagame, is the continued threat to Rwanda posed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu militia that includes remnants of the army that carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Until now, the US and other Western powers have generally supported Kagame diplomatically. And in January, Congo president Joseph Kabila, whose weak government has long had limited influence in the eastern part of the country, entered a surprise agreement with Kagame to allow Rwandan forces back into eastern Congo to fight the FDLR. But the extent of the Hutu threat to Rwanda is much debated, and observers note that Rwandan-backed forces have themselves been responsible for much of the violence in eastern Congo over the years.
Rwanda's intervention in Congo began in 1996. Two years earlier, Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had invaded Rwanda from neighboring Uganda, defeating the government in Kigali and ending the genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. As Kagame installed a minority Tutsi regime in Rwanda, some two million Hutu refugees fled to UN-run camps, mostly in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces. These provinces, which occupy an area of about 48,000 square miles—slightly larger than the state of Pennsylvania—are situated along Congo's eastern border with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and together have a population of more than five million people. In addition to containing rich deposits of minerals, North and South Kivu have, since the precolonial era, been subject to large waves of migration by people from Rwanda, including both Hutus and Tutsis. In recent decades these Rwandans have competed with more established residents for control of land.
Following Kagame's consolidation of power in Rwanda, a large invasion force of Rwandan Tutsis arrived in North and South Kivu to pursue Hutu militants and to launch a war against the three-decade-long dictatorship of Congo (then known as Zaire) by Mobutu Sese Seko, whom they claimed was giving refuge to the leaders of the genocide. With Rwandan and Ugandan support, a new regime led by Laurent Kabila was installed in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. But after Kabila ordered the Rwandan troops to leave in 1998, Kagame responded with a new and even larger invasion of the country.
Kabila's hold on power was saved at this point by Angola and Zimbabwe, which rushed troops into Congo to repel the Rwandan invaders. Angola was motivated by fears that Congolese territory would be used as a rear base by the longtime Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, following the renewed outbreak of that country's civil war. Zimbabwe appears to have been drawn by promises of access to Congolese minerals. The protracted and inconclusive conflict that followed has become what Gérard Prunier, in the title of his sprawling book, calls "Africa's World War," a catastrophic decade of violence that has led to a staggering 5.4 million deaths, far more than any war anywhere since World War II. It also has resulted in one of the largest—and least followed—UN interventions in the world, involving nearly 20,000 UN soldiers from over forty countries.
Throughout this conflict, Rwanda—a small, densely populated country with few natural resources of its own—has pursued Congo's enormous mineral wealth. Initially, the Rwandan Patriotic Front was directly operating mining businesses in Congo, according to UN investigators; more recently, Rwanda has attempted to maintain control of regions of eastern Congo through various proxy armies. Among these, none has been more lethal than the militia led by Laurent Nkunda, Congo's most notorious warlord, whose record of violence in eastern Congo includes destroying entire villages, committing mass rapes, and causing hundreds of thousands of Congolese to flee their homes.
Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi who is believed to have fought in both the Rwandan civil war and the subsequent war against Mobutu. In 2002, he was dispatched by the Rwandan government to Kisangani—an inland city in eastern Congo whose nearby gold mines have been fought over by Ugandan and Rwandan-backed forces. Nkunda committed numerous atrocities there, including the massacre of some 160 people, according to Human Rights Watch. In 2004, Nkunda declined a military appointment by Congo's transitional government, choosing instead to back a Tutsi insurgency in North Kivu near the Rwandan border. He claimed that his actions were aimed at preventing an impending genocide of Tutsis in Congo. Most observers say that these claims were groundless.
Nkunda's insurgency was put down, but clashes between his rebels, government forces, and other groups continued to foster ethnic tensions in eastern Congo, including widespread sexual violence against women; in 2005, the UN estimated that some 45,000 women were raped in South Kivu alone. And in the fall of 2008, Nkunda—apparently with Kagame's encouragement—led a new offensive of Tutsi rebels in North Kivu that uprooted about 200,000 civilians and threatened to capture the city of Goma, near the Rwandan border.
In January 2009, however, the Rwandan government made a surprise decision to arrest Nkunda. Kagame's willingness to move against Nkunda appears to stem, in part, from increasing international scrutiny of Rwanda's meddling in eastern Congo. The arrest took place just after the release of a UN report documenting Rwanda's close ties to the warlord, and concluding that he was being used to advance Rwanda's economic interests in Congo's eastern hinterlands. The report stated that Rwandan authorities had "been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces," while giving Nkunda access to Rwandan bank accounts and allowing him to launch attacks on the Congolese army from Rwandan soil.
Following Nkunda's arrest, Congo president Joseph Kabila agreed to allow Rwandan forces to conduct a five-week joint military operation in eastern Congo against Hutu rebels. But attacks against civilians have increased precipitously since the joint operation, and with Hutu and Tutsi militias still active it remains unclear whether there will be a lasting peace between Rwanda and Congo.
Africa's World War is the most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Along with René Lemarchand's The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa and Thomas Turner's The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Prunier's Africa's World War explores arguments that have circulated among scholars of sub-Saharan Africa for years. Prunier himself, who is an East Africa specialist at the University of Paris, has previously written a highly regarded account of the genocide.
But these books will surprise many whose knowledge of the region is based on popular accounts of the genocide and its aftermath. In all three, the Kagame regime, and its allies in Central Africa, are portrayed not as heroes but rather as opportunists who use moral arguments to advance economic interests. And their supporters in the United States and Western Europe emerge as alternately complicit, gullible, or simply confused. For their part in bringing intractable conflict to a region that had known very little armed violence for nearly thirty years, all the parties—so these books argue—deserve blame, including the United States.
The concentrated evil of the methodical Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in 1994 is widely known. For many it has long been understood as a grim, if fairly simple, morality play: the Hutus were extremist killers, while the Tutsis of the RPF are portrayed as avenging angels, who swooped in from their bases in Uganda to stop the genocide. But Lemarchand and Prunier show that the story was far more complicated. They both depict the forces of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front as steely, power-driven killers themselves.
"When the genocide did start, saving Tutsi civilians was not a priority," Prunier writes. "Worse, one of the most questionable of the RPF ideologues coolly declared in September 1994 that the 'interior' Tutsi"—those who had remained in Rwanda and not gone into exile in Uganda years earlier—"deserved what happened to them 'because they did not want to flee as they were getting rich doing business'" with the former Hutu regime. He also notes that the RPF "unambiguously opposed" all talk of a foreign intervention, however unlikely, to stop the genocide, apparently because such intervention could have prevented Kagame from taking full power.
Moreover, slaughter during the one hundred days of genocide was not the monopoly of the Hutus, as is widely believed. Both Lemarchand and Prunier recount the work of RPF teams that roamed the countryside methodically exterminating ordinary, unarmed Hutu villagers. This sort of killing, rarely mentioned in press accounts of the genocide, continued well after the war was over. For example, on April 22, 1995, units of the new national army surrounded the Kibeho refugee camp in south Rwanda, where about 150,000 Hutu refugees stood huddled shoulder to shoulder, and opened fire on the crowd with rifles and with 60mm mortars. According to Prunier, a thirty- two-member team of the Australian Medical Corps had counted 4,200 corpses at the camp before being stopped by the Rwandan army. Prunier calls the Kagame regime's use of violence in that period "something that resembles neither the genocide nor uncontrolled revenge killings, but rather a policy of political control through terror."
Some commentators in the United States have viewed Kagame as a sort of African Konrad Adenauer, crediting him with bringing stability and rapid economic growth to war-torn Rwanda, while running an administration considered to be one of the more efficient in Africa. In the nine years he has led the country (after serving as interim president, he won an election to a seven-year term in 2003), he has also gotten attention for the reconciliation process he has imposed on villages throughout Rwanda.
Firmly opposed to such views, the three authors reviewed here characterize Kagame's regime as more closely resembling a minority ethnic autocracy. In a recent interview, Prunier dismissed the recently much-touted reconciliation efforts, calling post-genocide Rwanda "a very well-managed ethnic, social, and economic dictatorship." True reconciliation, he said, "hinges on cash, social benefits, jobs, property rights, equality in front of the courts, and educational opportunities," all of which are heavily stacked against the roughly 85 percent of the population that is Hutu, a problem that in Prunier's view presages more conflict in the future. In his book, Lemarchand, an emeritus professor at the University of Florida who has done decades of fieldwork in the region, observes that Hutus have been largely excluded from important positions of power in Kagame's Rwanda, and that the state's military and security forces are pervasive. "The political decisions with the gravest consequences for the nation...are undertaken by the RPF's Tutsi leadership, not by the political establishment," he writes.
Those concerns are shared by human rights groups, which have documented the suppression of dissent in Rwanda.Freedom House ranked Rwanda 183 out of 195 countries in press freedom in 2008, while Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also described the Rwandan government as imposing harsh and arbitrary justice—including long-term incarceration without trial and life sentences in solitary confinement. Other Western observers and human rights activists have noted that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has never properly investigated atrocities committed by Tutsis. In June, more than seventy scholars from North American and European universities wrote an open letter to the UN secretary-general, President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressing "grave concern at the ongoing failure" of the tribunal to bring "indictments against those soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) who committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rwanda in 1994," and warning that this omission may cause the tribunal "to be dismissed as 'victor's justice.'"
On the question of Rwanda's principal motive for seeking to control or destabilize eastern Congo, the books broadly agree: Kagame and his government want, as Lemarchand writes, "continued access to the Congo's economic wealth." Lemarchand says that within Congo itself the FDLR poses a "clear and present danger to Tutsi and other communities." Like Prunier, though, he concludes that the threat the Hutu group poses to Rwanda's own security is "vastly exaggerated," noting that its fighters "are no match" for Rwandan and Rwanda-backed forces amounting to "70,000 men under arms and a sophisticated military arsenal, consisting of armored personnel carriers (APCs), tanks, and helicopters."
Thomas Turner draws parallels between the exploitation of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda and the brutal late-nineteenth-century regime of King Leopold of Belgium, whose thirst for empire drove his acquisition of what became known as the Congo Free State. Citing a 2001 United Nations investigation of the conflict, Turner concludes:
Resource extraction from eastern Congo, occupied by Uganda and Rwanda until recently, would seem to constitute "pure" pillage.... Much as in Free State days, the Congo was financing the occupation of a portion of its own territory. Unlike Free State days, none of the proceeds of this pillage were being reinvested.
According to a 2005 report on the Rwandan economy by the South African Institute for Security Studies, Rwanda's officially recorded coltan production soared nearly tenfold between 1999 and 2001, from 147 tons to 1,300 tons, surpassing revenues from the country's main traditional exports, tea and coffee, for the first time. "Part of the increase in production is due to the opening of new mines in Rwanda," the report said. "However, the increase is primarily due to the fraudulent re-export of coltan of Congolese origin."
When Rwanda moved to invade Mobutu's Zaire in 1996, Prunier says, the country's administration "was so rotten that the brush of a hand could cause it to collapse." Since the 1960s, Congo had remained relatively stable by virtue of a confluence of circumstances, which suddenly no longer held. After backing the wrong side during the Rwandan genocide, France had lost its will or interest in playing its longtime part as regional patron to several client regimes. Following the removal of Mobutu, who often did the bidding of Western powers, there was no longer any clear regional strongman to mediate disputes. The allegiance of African states to the idea of permanently fixed borders, which had held firm since independence, was being challenged. And finally, the vacuum created by Mobutu's overthrow unleashed fierce competition for Congolese coltan and other resources and led to what Turner calls the "militarization of commerce" by both foreign governments and rebel groups.
In allowing the Rwandan invasion of Zaire, the United States had two very different goals. The most immediate was the clearing of over one million Hutu refugees from UN camps near the Rwandan border, which had become bases for vengeful elements of the defeated Hutu army and Interahamwe militia, the agents of the Rwandan genocide. In Prunier's telling:
When Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice came back from her first trip to the Great Lakes region [of East Africa], a member of her staff said, "Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we [i.e., the US] have to do is look the other way."
The gist of Prunier's anecdote is correct, except that participants have confirmed to me that it was Rice herself who spoke these words.
In fact, getting the Hutu militia out of the UN camps was rapidly achieved in November 1996 by shelling them from Rwandan territory. Thereafter, the war against Mobutu dominated international headlines, overshadowing a secret Rwanda campaign that targeted for slaughter the Hutu populations that had fled into Congo. Here again, Washington provided vital cover.
At the time, the American ambassador to Congo, Daniel Howard Simpson, told me flatly that the fleeing Hutus were "the bad guys." One of the worst massacres by Kagame's Tutsi forces took place at the Tingi-Tingi refugee camp in northeastern Congo, which by 1997 contained over 100,000 Hutu refugees. But on January 21, 1997, Robert E. Gribbin, Simpson's counterpart in Rwanda, cabled Washington with the following advice:
We should pull out of Tingi-Tingi and stop feeding the killers who will run away to look for other sustenance, leaving their hostages behind.... If we do not we will be trading the children in Tingi-Tingi for the children who will be killed and orphaned in Rwanda.
There was a grim half-truth to Gribbin's assessment. The Hutu fighters traveling amid the refugees were often able to avoid engagement with their Tutsi pursuers by fleeing westward into the Congolese rain forest. The genuine refugees, who by UNHCR's estimate accounted for 93 percent of the Hutus in flight, could not. The best evidence suggests that they died by the scores of thousands in their flight across Congo, in what Lemarchand calls "a genocide of attrition." Prunier estimates the number killed in this manner at 300,000.
In August 1997, the UN began to investigate Tutsi killings of Hutu civilians and, as Turner recounts, "a preliminary report identified forty massacre sites." But the investigators were stonewalled by Kabila's Congo government—then still backed by Rwanda—and received little support from Washington. Roberto Garreton, a Chilean human rights lawyer who headed the UN investigation, was barred from the Rwandan capital of Kigali and his team was largely kept from the field in Congo. Garreton later wrote:
One cannot of course ignore the presence of persons guilty of genocide, soldiers and militia members, among the refugees.... It is nevertheless unacceptable to claim that more than one million people, including large numbers of children, should be collectively designated as persons guilty of genocide and liable to execution without trial.
Rwanda's designs on eastern Congo were further helped by the Clinton administration's interest in promoting a group of men it called the New African Leaders, including the heads of state of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda. As Clinton officials saw it, these New Leaders were sympathetic and businesslike, drawn together by such desirable goals as overthrowing Mobutu, by antagonism toward the Islamist government of Sudan, which shares a border with northeast Congo, and by talk of rethinking Africa's hitherto sacrosanct borders, as a means of creating more viable states.
Then Assistant Secretary of State Rice touted the New Leaders as pursuing "African solutions to African problems." In 1999, Marina Ottaway, the influential Africa expert of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Senate Subcommittee on Africa:
Many of the states that emerged from the colonial period have ceased to exist in practice.... The problem is to create functioning states, either by re-dividing territory or by creating new institutional arrangements such as decentralized federations or even confederations.
In fact, the favored group of African leaders were also authoritarian figures with military backgrounds, all of whom had scorned democratic elections. According to Turner, support for the New Leaders "apparently meant that the USA and Britain should continue to aid Rwanda and Uganda as they 'found solutions' by carving up Congo."
As in the case of the Rwandan genocide, Lemarchand suggests, the policies of the United States and other Western powers toward the conflict in Congo have been misguided in part out of ignorance of Central Africa's complicated twentieth-century history. Episodes of appalling violence in this region have occurred periodically at least since 1959, and cannot be remedied without first understanding their deeper causes. As Lemarchand writes:
From the days of the Hutu revolution in Rwanda [in 1959–1962] to the invasion of the "refugee warriors" from Uganda [under Kagame's leadership] in 1994, from the huge exodus of Hutu from Burundi in 1972 to the "cleansing" of Hutu refugee camps in 1996–97, the pattern that emerges again and again is one in which refugee populations serve as the vehicles through which ethnic identities are mobilized and manipulated, host communities preyed upon, and external resources extracted.
Some will always quibble with where to begin this story, whether with colonial favoritism for the Tutsis by Belgium in the first half of the twentieth century, or with Brussels's flip-flop in 1959 in favor of the Hutus on the eve of Rwandan independence, which led to the anti-Tutsi pogroms that sent Kagame's family and those of so many others of his RPF comrades into exile in Uganda. These events in turn had far-reaching effects on Rwanda's small neighbor Burundi, a German and later Belgian colony that gained independence in 1962 and, like Rwanda, has a large Hutu majority and Tutsi minority. In 1972, an extremist Tutsi regime there, driven by a fear of being overthrown, carried out the first genocide since the Holocaust, killing 300,000 Hutus.
In the West, the Burundi genocide is scarcely remembered, but its consequences live on in the region. Terrorized Hutus streamed out of Burundi into Rwanda, helping to set Rwanda onto a path of Hutu extremism, and priming it for its own genocide two decades later. The final instigator of the Rwandan tragedy was the mysterious shooting down of a presidential plane on April 6, 1994, which killed presidents Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaramyira of Burundi, who were both Hutu. This precipitated the horrific massacre of Rwandan Tutsis, but also a broader Hutu–Tutsi conflict, which by 1996 had begun to tear apart large swaths of eastern Congo.
The events that have followed Rwanda's arrest of the warlord Nkunda in January of this year suggest that Congo and Rwanda have finally found reasons to sue for peace. Congo's weak government and corrupt army are powerless to fight Rwanda or its proxies, and there is desperate need to rebuild the state from scratch. Rwanda, meanwhile, is seeking to placate important European aid donors, who account for as much as half of Rwanda's annual budget and who, for the first time since its initial invasion of Congo in 1996, are asking difficult questions about its behavior there.
As part of the deal that gave Rwandan forces another chance to fight Hutu militias in eastern Congo last spring, Kagame agreed to withdraw Rwanda's support for the Tutsi insurgency in eastern Congo while at the same time pressing Congolese Tutsis to integrate into Congo's national army. Kagame hopes now to find a legal means to sustain Rwanda's economic hold on eastern Congo, for example by promoting civilian business interests in the area. These are often run by ex-military officers or people with close ties to the Rwandan armed forces. In interviews, both Prunier and Lemarchand say that the direct plunder of resources by the Rwandan military has ceased, but that a large "subterranean" trade in minerals has continued through corrupt Congolese politicians and local militias.
For its part, the United States has begun to acknowledge the scale of the problem in eastern Congo. In August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a two-day visit to the country, during which she described the conflict as driven by "exploitation of natural resources" and announced a $17 million program to help women who have been raped in the fighting.
Notwithstanding these developments, the conflict in the east has been surging again, as the UN-backed Congolese army pursues a new campaign against Hutu rebels. It is hard to dispute Lemarchand's logic. Without addressing the problems of exclusion and participation, whether in a Rwanda ruled by a small Tutsi minority or in heavily armed eastern Congo, where contending ethnic groups want to get hold of the region's spoils, it will be impossible to end this catastrophe.
—August 25, 2009
According to the International Rescue Committee, whose epidemiological studies in Congo use methodology similar to that of studies it has carried out in Iraq and elsewhere.
See Adam Hochschild's account in these pages, "Rape of the Congo," August 13, 2009.
Nearly simultaneous permission was granted to Uganda and South Sudan to send their forces into Congolese territory to pursue factions of the Lord's Resistance Army, one of Africa's most vicious rebel groups.
Reports of RPF killings first surfaced, briefly, in a 1994 report by a UN investigator, Robert Gersony, who concluded that RPF insurgents had murdered between 25,000 and 45,000 people. Under pressure from the United States, the Gersony report was never released.
In his recent book, Journey into Darkness: Genocide in Rwanda, Thomas Odom, a former US military attaché to Kigali, writes that the Kibeho massacre did not undermine US support for the Rwandan government. "The bottom line was a difficult operation had gone bad, and people had died. I put the casualties at around two thousand," he wrote. "Yet the United States did not suspend foreign assistance—just barely restarted—as did the Belgians, the Dutch, and the European Union. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vince Kern passed word to me that our report had saved the day." See Journey into Darkness (Texas A&M University Press, 2005), pp. 229–230.
Howard W. French, A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa (Knopf, 2004), p. 142.
In his self-published manuscript on the events, In the Aftermath of Genocide: The US Role in Rwanda (iUniverse, 2005), Gribbin discounts this number, writing that "some would die in fighting, some would succumb to their terrible living conditions and to abuses by rebel forces, but 300,000 killed? Never." Nonetheless Gribbin acknowledges that serious efforts at investigation were blocked.
See Stephanie McCrummen, "A Conflict's Deadly Ripple Effects," The Washington Post, August 2, 2009.
The Journal of Modern African Studies (2000), 38:2:163-202 Cambridge University PressCopyright © 2000 Cambridge University Press
The massacre of refugees in Congo: a case of UN peacekeeping failure and international law
Kisangani N. F. Emizet a1 1 a1 Department of Political Science, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
The massacre of refugees during the 1996–7 war in Congo illustrates the gap between existing legal standards and their application, as the principle of sovereignty rationalises states' behaviour against helpless people. This paper assesses available information on the scale of the massacre, concluding that about 232,000 refugees were killed. It argues that firmness in demanding justice and protecting human rights does not require ignoring the objectives of stability and prosperity for any country, but rather that it is the best way of promoting those goals and strengthening state sovereignty within the international community. To implement international law related to refugees will require making states and non-state players responsible for their actions to the international community, since any outflow of refugees creates negative externalities or costs that are unequally borne by this community.
1 The author would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments
19 Aug 2009
"The plane was shot down by Paul Kagame and his Tutsi associates,  with active or tacit help from the Belgians, UN representative Romeo Dallaire,  and possibly the CIA. This act was part of the Kagame-Tutsi final assault to seize power after a four-year war, with the assistance of the U.S.-sponsored Ugandan military. When the chief investigator for the Rwanda Tribunal, Australian Michael Hourigan, reported solid evidence on this locus of responsibility for the April 6th assassination to Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour in 1997, she immediately closed down the investigation and ordered him to destroy his files. This finding, which does not comport with the idea of a pre-planned Hutu murder program, has been suppressed in the Free Press. "
We have all heard about “genocide denial” and “holocaust denial” as very bad happenings that have focused attention, indignation, and concern to the point of laws passed to criminalize such behavior in Austria, Belgium, France, and elsewhere. But very little attention has been paid to genocide inflation, where killings are wildly exaggerated and claims of genocide are made based on hearsay, rumor, knowing lies, and otherwise problematic “information.” No indignation has been expressed even over its more egregious illustrations, and no laws have been proposed or passed to punish its practitioners. This is because the focus on denial has been useful to powerful groups and countries in the West, whereas the critics and victims of genocide inflation have been weak and with no political or media leverage. It will be shown below, however, that this pattern not only fails to protect anybody’s human rights, but instead allows the powerful to kill and violate human rights more easily.
Genocide denial has received its greatest attention in relation to the occasional questioning of the Nazi destruction of the Jews during World War II. Those denying this horrendous set of real events have almost always been powerless eccentrics who posed no threat to existing Jewish populations, and in fact the outcries against them have gotten louder as real antisemitism has declined (although hostility to Israeli policy has increased). This was surely true in the famous case of Robert Faurisson in France, where his denial in the late 1970s, which aroused great indignation, led to legal action, and elicited great publicity, occurred in a country where antisemitism had demonstrably fallen sharply.  A powerless individual, he and his crank opinions posed no threat whatsoever to French Jews. It was pointed out at the time that similar crank views by the U.S. academic Arthur Butz had simply been ignored, and in consequence he was unknown here and completely lacking in influence. Why did the French (mainly Jewish) activists give Faurisson such free publicity? They talked about “insults” and “honor,” but one thing they omitted: that Israel was being increasingly criticized for its intensifying ethnic cleansing programs involving Palestinians, and bringing attention once again to the Nazi Holocaust would deflect attention from the ugly present in which Jews were victimizers to the time when they were massive victims.
In recent years as well, Israel has been subject to increasing criticism for its harsh and illegal treatment of its own untermenschen, and the response of many individual and organized Jewish groups in the United States and Europe has been once again to cry about genocide denial and an alleged increase in antisemitism (more and more identified with hostility to Israeli policies). This has been happening in a period where real antisemitism (as opposed to hostility to Israeli ethnic cleansing) and holocaust denial are at a low level, but where the power of Western Jewish elites and lobbying operations are unprecedentedly high.  This has allowed them to get substantial but completely unwarranted publicity for their current victimization claims, including even the passage of laws outlawing Holocaust denial and legislative as well as private efforts to rein in critics of Israeli policy.
The human rights impact of this set of campaigns, including those featuring and trying to constrain Holocaust denial, has been negative. As Jews are not under threat in the West, the campaign does not help their human rights. On the other hand, by featuring Jewish victimization these campaigns build support for Israel and hence contribute to the astonishing willingness of the West not only to allow massive human rights violations of Palestinians and Lebanese by the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli settlers but to actively support these by punishing the victims.
It has of course been argued that Iran President Mahmoud Ahmanidejad has posed an existential threat to Israel with his reservations about the Holocaust and alleged desire to “wipe Israel off the map.”  But his Holocaust doubts prove nothing about prospective Iran policy, and his “wiping out” threat has been shown to have been a mistranslation of an expressed position favoring regime change from racist to non-racist state. The most clear and direct threats involving Iran are those by the United States and Israel in favor of regime change in Iran itself, and with the use of force—even nuclear weapons—very much “on the table.” It can never be expressed in the Free Press, but not only does Iran lack a single nuclear weapon, even if it had a few using them would be an act of national suicide. On the other hand, that would not be true if the United States or Israel used such weapons, and both are openly threatening a military attack on Iran.
It should also be noted that there is a systematic “genocide [or holocaust] denial” when it comes to treating Western-based genocidal operations, but this is invisible because the West does it. The most prominent illustration at present is the U.S. and “coalition of the willing” mass killing in Iraq. The million Iraqi deaths from the “sanctions of mass destruction” of the 1990s is unmentioned in Samantha Power’s ludicrous treatise on genocide (“A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide), just as she fails to deal seriously with the Indonesian massacres in East Timor.  The U.S.-coalition invasion-occupation of Iraq from 2003 has added another million to the Iraqi toll, but the idea that this is “genocide” is inexpressible in the U.S. mainstream media, which is focused on the more politically convenient killings in Darfur—attributable to a Western target, the Arab government of the Sudan, hence subject to the invidious word genocidal. This is implicit but real denial, which follows from the political basis of naming and concern.
All through the Yugoslavia wars of the 1990s there were cries of genocide—first in Bosnia, then in Kosovo, with the Serbs as villains and the Bosnian Muslims and then Kosovo Albanians as the victims. The numbers of Bosnian Muslim civilians allegedly killed by the Bosnian Serbs reached 250,000 or 300,000 by 1993, the source of this information being Bosnian Muslim officials who were both notorious liars and working as hard as they could to make a case for NATO armed intervention on their behalf. Throughout the period 1992-1995 propaganda claims of Serb massacres, death camps, and rape camps were profuse, pushed not only by Muslim and NATO officials but by an enthusiastically gullible Western media.  By 1995, war campaigner David Rieff was asserting that the “genocide” of Bosnian Muslims “is all but complete.” 
But awkwardly for Rieff and his fellow war campaigners and propagandists, in 2005 and 2007 two studies made their appearance, one by Ewa Tabeau and Jacub Bijak published in 2005 under the auspices of the Western-organized Yugoslavia Tribunal, the other in 2007 by the Bosnian Muslim lawyer Mirsad Tokaca and funded by the Norwegian government, both claiming that the total Bosnian war deaths on all sides, military and civilian, was in the order of 100,000, of which some 40-55,000 were civilians (including thousands of Serbs). These new values penetrated into mainstream reporting slowly and grudgingly, because the inflated numbers had fitted so well the needs of U.S. and NATO policy and the closely related biases of the Western media.
While the Bosnian “genocide” has taken a beating, the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995 has survived as a now institutionalized “genocide.” But it has done so in the face of intractable problems: the NATO-organized and compliant Yugoslav Tribunal identified it as such by finding that there could be genocide in one small town, where the genocidists had bussed to safety all the women and children of their target population, and where the claims of 8,000 executed have never been verified by forensic or credible witness evidence of anything like this scale of killing.  It lives on by virtue of its political utility and aggressive challenges to its truthfulness as “revisionism” and “denial.”
This same inflation process occurred before and during NATO’s 78-day bombing war on Yugoslavia and takeover of Kosovo. The pre-bombing propaganda barrage claiming Serb misbehavior was massive, and then during the war itself there was a stream of hysterical claims of indiscriminate killing, official U.S. claims of Bosnian Muslim deaths reaching 500,000, with a very profuse use of the word “genocide.” After the war, the claimed deaths quickly fell to 11,000, and one of the greatest forensic body searches in history produced only 4,000 bodies (with some 2,000 still reportedly missing).
Needless to say, there has been no apology, or any call for reprimand let alone punishment, for participation in these processes of genocide inflation. But in contrast with the genocide denial cases mentioned earlier, these inflation processes had real and substantial negative human rights consequences. By helping demonize U.S.-NATO targets, they readied Western publics for a refusal to negotiate with the demons, helped bring about an ensuing burst of ethnic cleansing and eventually NATO military intervention, and they helped cover over the NATO commission of war crimes. Michael Mandel made an excellent case that the main point of the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s operations from its inception in 1993 was to demonize the NATO target (Serbia) and to allow the demand for “justice” to trump peace settlements, which the United States and its allies did trump from 1992 till the Dayton Accord in late 1995  The genocide inflation helped to this end. The same was true in the Kosovo case, where the inflated claims of Serb violence against the Kosovo Albanians both before and during the bombing war—including the fabricated threat of a Serb mass ethnic cleansing under Operation Horseshoe—helped make publicly acceptable the carefully engineered avoidance of negotiations and plunge into a bombing war.
A less well-known and less well-understood case of genocide inflation--and possibly even more important, misapprehension of the true source and major direction of the killings-- is that of Rwanda. In the establishment narrative, genocide irrupted suddenly following the April 6, 1994 shooting down of a plane at the Kigali airport that killed the Hutu presidents of both Rwanda (Juvenal Habyarimana) and Burundi (Cyprien Ntaryamira). According to the narrative, the Hutu genocidaires and the Interahamwe militias unleashed a huge pre-planned killing spree against the minority Tutsi population that wiped out some 800,000 to 1.2 million people, mainly Tutsis. In the myth structure, Bill Clinton made a regrettable error in pressing for the withdrawal of UN forces that might have protected civilians, for which he apologized. In a major article of September 2001 in the Atlantic Monthly, Samantha Power and others dubbed the United States “bystanders to genocide,” which is also a myth.
Contrary to the establishment narrative:
(1) The plane was shot down by Paul Kagame and his Tutsi associates,  with active or tacit help from the Belgians, UN representative Romeo Dallaire,  and possibly the CIA. This act was part of the Kagame-Tutsi final assault to seize power after a four-year war, with the assistance of the U.S.-sponsored Ugandan military. When the chief investigator for the Rwanda Tribunal, Australian Michael Hourigan, reported solid evidence on this locus of responsibility for the April 6th assassination to Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour in 1997, she immediately closed down the investigation and ordered him to destroy his files. This finding, which does not comport with the idea of a pre-planned Hutu murder program, has been suppressed in the Free Press.
(2) The two leaders whose plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, were Hutus. A third Hutu leader, Melchior Ndadaye, an earlier president of Burundi, was assassinated by his Tutsi military in October 1993, which was followed by an anti-Hutu pogrom that killed tens of thousands and drove hundreds of thousands of Burundian-Hutu refugees into Rwanda.
(3) Clinton and his Western allies (UK, Belgium) sponsored the U.S.-trained Kagame, supported his invasions of Rwanda from Uganda and massive ethnic cleansing prior to April 1994, and via their control of the Security Council refused to allow additional UN troops into Rwanda in April 1994, in fact forcing a reduction of the UNIMIR contingent in Rwanda from 2,500 to 270, not because of caution but because Kagame didn’t want them there to interfere with his conquest of Rwanda, which Clinton and his allies supported.
(4) The Hutu authorities urged more UN troops—and in light of the Kagame/U.S. (etc.) opposition to such civilian-protective assistance, this once again calls into question who it was that did the main killing in Rwanda.
(5) A suppressed 1994 UNCHR (Gersony) Report documented massacres of civilians in Kagame-controlled areas of Rwanda, which was confirmed by contemporaneous Amnesty and HRW reports.
(6) A University of Maryland research team led by Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, sponsored by the Western-organized Rwanda Tribunal, initially found that only about 250,000 civilians had been killed in Rwanda and that two out of three victims were Hutus. This caused a great deal of dismay and the authors have been under attack and in retreat ever since. The 800,000 (and higher) figures have no basis in any other scientific studies but are essentially the Kagame regime’s numbers.
To an amazing degree, the Western media and NGOs swallowed the propaganda line and lies on Rwanda that turned things upside down. They made the prime aggressors and genocidists, who were responsible for the dual assassination of April 6, 1994 that precipitated the mass killing, into heroic defenders against the de facto victims. The dictator Paul Kagame, one of the great mass murderers of our time, was made into an honored savior deserving and receiving strong Western support. Philip Gourevitch and the New Yorker whipped up sympathy in the West by labeling the Tutsis the “Jews of Africa;” the label stuck, and it garnered even greater support for Western anti-“genocide” intervention.  These big lies are now institutionalized and are part of the common (mis)understanding in the West.
Because the Western propaganda machine succeeded so well in making the Hutus the villains and killers, and Paul Kagame the defender/savior of Rwanda, this cleared the ground for Kagame and Yoweri Musevemi--Kagame’s ally and fellow U.S. client and dictator (of Uganda)—to periodically invade and occupy the Eastern Congo (then Zaire) and beyond without “international community” opposition as they were allegedly cleaning out the genocidaires. The Pentagon very actively supported this on the ground, even more than it supported the Kagame machine’s drive in Kigali. This led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilian Hutu refugees in a series of mass slaughters, and also provided cover for a wider Kagame-Musevemi assault in the Congo that has led to the deaths of literally millions.  This was again compatible with Western interests and policy, as it all contributed to the replacement of Mobutu with the more amenable Kabila and the opening up of the Congo to a new surge of ruthless exploitation of its mineral resources by Western companies—a fine illustration of “shock therapy” with murderous human consequences but large gains to a small business and military elite. 
In sum, Rwanda offers an outstanding illustration of how genocide inflation and lies can have immense, even catastrophic, human consequences. Thus, not only did the West fail to intervene to prevent “genocide,” it intervened both before April 6th and after to ensure that the right killers took over and in support of genocide. This also ensured preferential treatment in both Rwanda and the Congo for the killers’ sponsors in the West. This history also shows how magnificently the Western media and NGOs can adapt even in the grossest cases to serve Western political-economic interests. With media and NGO help genocide claims now function as a tool of U.S. expansionism, appropriately labeled “genocidalism,”  regularly applied to virtually any target and helping clear the ground for bombing attacks, invasions, occupations and regime change by the United States itself or one of it proxies or clients.
1. This was the conclusion of a conference at Brandeis University in 1983 on “The Jews in Modern France”--see “Decline Seen in French Anti-Semitism,” Reuters, Boston Globe, April 20, 1983.
2. See John Mearsheimer and Stanley Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007); James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006; also Petras, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/05/the-pro-israel-lobby-and-us-middle-east-policy/
3. For a discussion of the systematic attempts of pro-Israeli-occupation supporters to curb debate on the relevant issues, see, e.g., the audio-links of the presentations at the "In Defense of Academic Freedom" conference held in Chicago, October 12, 2007, http://www.academicfreedomchicago.org/?q=node/32.
4. "Ethnic Cleansing and the 'Moral Instinct'," Edward S. Herman, Z Magazine, March, 2006, http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Mar2006/herman0306.html.
5. Ahmadinejad’s remarks on the Holocaust have mainly been complaints that Europe has addressed the problem of the mistreatment of European Jews by imposing Israel on the Palestinians. He doesn’t deny that the Jews were targeted for expulsion and death by some of the European states. On his non-existent wipe-out line, see, e.g., Jonathan Steele, "Lost in Translation," The Guardian, June 14, 2006, http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonathan_steele/2006/06/post_155.html; and Arash Norouzi, "'Wiped Off the Map' -- The Rumor of the Century," DemocracyRising.US, January 18, 2007, http://democracyrising.us/content/view/736/164/.
6. See, e.g., John M. Donnelly, "Item In War Request Stokes Fears Of Iran Strike," Congressional Quarterly Today, October 23, 2007, http://public.cq.com/docs/cqt/news110-000002611347.html; and John H. Richardson, "The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know," Esquire, October 18, 2007, http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/102407B.shtml.
7. Edward S. Herman, "The Cruise Missile Left (part 5): Samantha Power And The Genocide Gambit," ZNet, May 17, 2004, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=5538. ….
8. Peter Brock, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting--Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia (GMBooks, 2005)
9. David Rieff, Slaugherhouse, p. 17.
10. See Herman and Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention [and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse],” Monthly Review, Oct. 2007), pp. 22-26.
11. See Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder, 153-160.
12. Herman and Peterson, “Dismantling Yugoslavia,” 27. See also, "Kosovo: ICRC publishes new edition of Book of the Missing," International Committee of the Red Cross, August 29, 2007, http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/kosovo-news-290807?opendocument.
13. How America Gets Away With Murder, pp. 124-129.
14. Samantha Power, "Bystanders to Genocide," Atlantic Monthly, September, 2001, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200109/power-genocide.
15. On November 21, 2006, the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued a lengthy report on his investigation into the April 6, 1994 shootdown of the aircraft carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents back to Kigali from their summit meeting earlier that day in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. More important, Judge Bruguiere called for arrest warrants to be issued for Rwanda President Paul Kagame and nine of his associate, on suspicion of masterminding the assassinations. To date, no arrests have been made. See Chris McGreal, "French judge accuses Rwandan president of assassination," The Guardian, November 22, 2006; and Fergal Keane, "Will we ever learn the truth about this genocide?" The Independent, November 22, 2006.
16. Dallaire, who has attained heroic status for allegedly “resisting” the genocide, and who has been a “fellow” of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights, was actually a virtual agent of the invading Kagame forces. He closed one axis of the Kagali airport runway to make the shootdown easier, refused to allow a nearby French investigative team to investigate the crime, failed to warn the Rwanda government of the military buildup of the Kagame forces, and was charged by his direct superior, Dr Jacques Roger Booh-Booh, with working in collaboration with the RPF and also taking orders from the US and Belgian embassies in Kigali (see his Dallaire's Boss Talks).
17. Some accessible basic sources supporting this analysis are Robin Philpot, Rwanda 1994: Colonialism Dies Hard, http://www.taylor-report.com/Rwanda_1994/; Barrie Collins, “Rewriting Rwanda,” http://www.spiked-online.co.uk/Articles/0000000CA4BD.htm; “Hotel Rwanda: Hollywood and the Holocaust in Central Africa,” http://www.allthingspass.com/uploads/html-135Hotel%20Rwanda%20Final%2010%20Jan%202006.htm.)
18. On Gourevitch and other Western intellectual apologists for the Kagame assassinations and slaughterhouse, see Philpot, Rwanda 1994, Chapters 9-12.
19. The Lancet Publishes IRC Mortality Study from DR Congo; 3.9 Million Have Died: 38,000 Die per Month," News Release, International Rescue Committee, January, 2006; Simon Robinson and Vivienne Walt, “The Deadliest War in the World,” http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1198921,00.html)
20. Steven Da Silva, “Revisiting the ‘Rwanda Genocide’,” http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5848; Michel Chossudovsky, “The Geopolitics Behind the Rwanda Genocide”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20061123&articleId=3958.)
21. Aleksandar Jokic in “Genocidalism,” Journal of Ethics 8:251:297 (2004).
First published in Znet
Edward S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on economics, political economy and the media. Among his books are The Real Terror Network, Triumph of the Market, and Manufacturing Consent(with Noam Chomsky).
2 Aug 2009
One of the most notorious accusations against Kagame has come from French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who investigated the 6 April 1994 plane crash that killed then-Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, then Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira and three French nationals. Bruguiere’s investigation concluded that the aircraft was shot down on orders from Kagame himself. Not only has Kagame denied all accusations but has even argued that France directly participated in the genocide that followed the assassinations. Since then, diplomatic relations between the two counties have been frozen.
There after a spain juge delivered 40 international warrants against RPF's soldiers responsible for war crimes,internationa l human rights abuse commited in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and murders of spains origin,canadian priests origin and others.
According to many observers, understanding who was behind the incident is a fundamental step for reconciliation in Rwanda, not only because important political figures were killed, but also because the massacre of the Tutsis began only hours after the news of the accident was broadcast on the radio. The plane crash, therefore, played a direct role in provoking the genocide: Whoever ordered the shooting carries an enormous responsibility. Kagame is also accused of denying political and press freedom in Rwanda.
According to the Economist , “He allows less political space and press freedom at home than Robert Mugabe does in Zimbabwe.” “There is no press freedom in Rwanda,” Timothy Spence, press and communication manager of the International Press Institute (IPI), told ISN Security Watch. “Over the past few years, journalists have continuously been arrested and harassed because they are accused of fuelling the genocide ideology […]. But these allegations are often used as a strategy to repress all criticism.” After the genocide, in fact, Kagame outlawed the practice of differentiating between Hutus and Tutsis in order to promote reconciliation and unity among Rwandans. “There are tremendously good things happening in Rwanda, but much more could happen if these restrictions and subtle intimidations against journalists came to an end,” said Spence. The subject of ethnicity has become very contradictory in the past years, considering that even though Kagame condemns all talks about Hutu and Tutsi groups, the ruling RFP party has a clear ethnic connotation (Tutsi) and the large majority of government positions were given to members of the Tutsi ethnical group. The most outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who became famous for saving over 1,000 Tutsis during the genocide and inspiring the movie “Hotel Rwanda.” He now lives in Belgium.
In his autobiography “An Ordinary Man,” he made serious accusations against Kagame, stating that: “Rwanda is today a nation governed by and for the benefit of a small group of elite Tutsis [...] Those few Hutus who have been elevated to high-ranking posts are usually empty suits without any real authority of their own. They are known locally as Hutus de service or Hutus for hire.” Kagame’s repression of political opposition came in a very subtle but effective way, by denying rights to launch political campaigns or to organize meetings and political events. In fact, Kagame's coalition made huge gains in the 2003 presidential election and the 2008 Chamber of Deputies election (95 percent and 79 percent, respectively) , but both were characterized by the lack of credible opposition parties.
Uncertain Future Kagame’s seven-year term will end in September 2010. At the moment, Kagame’s rule stands on solid ground due to a fast-improving economy, but there are concerns that if he does not tackle Rwanda's political imbalances, the country will fall back into ethnic tension and violence. There are many examples of strong African leaders who have promoted economic and social reforms in their initial periods while neglecting the freedom of political opposition. Eventually they failed. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is one case in point. Although Rwanda has proven itself an exception, the question that will surround the next elections is the most classic African dilemma: Is Rwanda ready to combine economic growth with a fully functioning multi-party democracy? Note: Edoardo Totolo is a freelance writer and academic researcher based in Amsterdam. His fields of expertise are private sector development and the impact of informal economies on human security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Posted by Mamadou Kouyate at 5:31 PM
The Two Faces of Rwanda
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Land in Rwanda: Winnowing out the Chaff
Rwandan peasants on the brink of extinction
Rusesabagina - Rwanda back to ethnic servitude system
The Power of Horror in Rwanda
Yesterday a victim, today an oppressor: how aid funds war in Congo
Rwanda: Economic Growth Sustained Through Free Labor
Rural poverty is dramatically increasing in Rwanda, Belgian researcher An Ansoms reveals
Striving for growth, bypassing the poor?A critical review of Rwanda’s rural sector policies
27 Jul 2009
Comments on this report:
“We should not even say that Rwanda made an application to join the Commonwealth. In fact, it’s Kagame who is joining the Commonwealth, not Rwanda as a nation. What is happening in Rwanda is that a minority cannot govern without human rights violations. Anyone who condemned or did not support Kagame’s war is now in jail in Rwanda under the gacaca courts system. Others have fled the country and are still fleeing now. Many others Rwandans are being persecuted in their own country. Kagame is waiting for an apology from others who warn him or who wanted to help to ensure that political negotiations take place between Kagame and the former government he was fighting against.
Britain continues to supply foreign aid to Kagame and his cronies with media reports highlighting economic successes of Rwanda. Such reports are flawed and are aimed at misleading the British public to justify the use of British taxpayers’ money. Kagame and his cronies continue to milk British taxpayers’ money under the British budget support. This started from 1986 through the British budget support to Uganda until today.
In addition to the British taxpayer’s money supplied to the Rwandan Embassies abroad which are working only to sell Kagame’s image and achievements and to hunt the genocidaires, Kagame continues to use British taxpayers’ money to clear his name by organising multiple trips abroad to talk to the media. Taking into account that during the last 15 years Kagame received 10 times more foreign aid than any developing country of the same size as Rwanda, in the world, the achievements of Kagame are not even what we could expect. For the British, Kagame’s claimed economic successes replace human rights, democracy and rule of law. Allowing Kagame to join the Commonwealth is giving him green light to continue his policy of hum rights violations which are aimed to maintain him on power until he dies”.
CHRI Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative working for the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation, mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. In 1987, several Commonwealth professional associations founded CHRI. They believed that while the Commonwealth provided member countries a shared set of values and legal principles from which to work and provided a forum within which to promote human rights, there was little focus on the issues of human rights within the Commonwealth.
The objectives of CHRI are to promote awareness of and adherence to the Commonwealth Harare Principles, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights instruments, as well as domestic instruments supporting human rights in Commonwealth member states.
Through its reports and periodic investigations, CHRI continually draws attention to progress and setbacks to human rights in Commonwealth countries. In advocating for approaches and measures to prevent human rights abuses, CHRI addresses the Commonwealth Secretariat, member governments and civil society associations. Through its public education programmes, policy dialogues, comparative research, advocacy and networking, CHRI’s approach throughout is to act as a catalyst around its priority issues.
The nature of CHRI’s sponsoring organisations allows for a national presence and an international network.* These professionals can also steer public policy by incorporating human rights norms into their own work and act as a conduit to disseminate human rights information, standards and practices. These groups also bring local knowledge, can access policy makers, highlight issues, and act in concert to promote human rights.
CHRI is based in New Delhi, India, and has offices in London, UK, and Accra, Ghana.
International Advisory Commission: Sam Okudzeto - Chairperson. Members: Eunice Brookman-Amissah, Murray Burt, Yash Ghai,
Alison Duxbury, Neville Linton, B.G. Verghese, Zohra Yusuf and Maja Daruwala.
Executive Committee (India): B.G. Verghese – Chairperson. Members: Anu Aga, B.K.Chandrashekar, Bhagwan Das, Nitin Desai,
K.S. Dhillon, Harivansh, Sanjoy Hazarika, Poonam Muttreja, Ruma Pal, R.V. Pillai, Kamal Kumar and Maja Daruwala – Director.
Executive Committee (Ghana): Sam Okudzeto – Chairperson. Members: Anna Bossman, Neville Linton, Emile Short, B.G. Verghese,
and Maja Daruwala - Director.
Executive Committee (UK): Neville Linton – Chairperson; Lindsay Ross – Deputy Chairperson. Members: Austin Davis, Meenakshi
Dhar, Derek Ingram, Claire Martin, Syed Sharfuddin and Elizabeth Smith.
* Commonwealth Journalists Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Commonwealth Legal Education Association, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,
Commonwealth Press Union and Commonwealth Broadcasting Association.
© Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, 2009. Image: ©iStockphoto.com/Duncan Walker.
Research & Background Writing: Lucy Mathieson; Editing: Heather Collister; Administrative Support: CHRI London Office
Material from this report may be used, duly acknowledging the source.
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Rwanda’s Application for
Membership of the Commonwealth:
Report of a Mission of
the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Prof. Yash Ghai
With the assistance of Lucy Mathieson, CHRI
Table of Contents
I Introduction 1
IIThe Commonwealth and rules for membership 1
IIIRwanda: history and background 3
IV Assessing Rwanda’s record 4
1. The genocide ideology of “negation”, “revisionism” and “trivialization” 5
2. Compatibility with the Harare Declaration 7
(a) Democracy and governance 7
(b) Fundamental human rights 7
(i) Freedom of expression 8
(ii) Freedom of association and assembly 10
(c) Rule of law and the independence of the judiciary 10
(i) Gacaca courts and transitional justice 11
(d) Civil Society 11
(e) International relations 12
V Considerations for a policy on admission 12
VI Recommendations 14
VII Annexure - List of Organisations Consulted 16
Rwanda’s Application for
Membership of the Commonwealth: Report of a Mission of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Rwanda has applied for membership of the Commonwealth. The application is likely to be considered at the next meeting of the Heads of Commonwealth Governments meeting in November 2009. The Commonwealth
Secretariat has already made an assessment of the application (although its report is, unfortunately, still confidential). As the question of Commonwealth membership is not merely a matter for governments, but also
for the peoples of the Commonwealth (the Commonwealth being primarily an association of the people of member states), the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which represents several key pan-Commonwealth civil society organisations and collaborates with many more, decided to make its own
assessment of the application against the criteria for membership. For this purpose it sent a mission to Rwanda in May 2009.1 The mission paid particular attention to the state of human rights and the role of civil society, in
accordance with the criteria and the terms of the Harare Declaration. It also considered the implications of the expansion of Commonwealth membership, particularly of states which have had no historical links with the
Commonwealth. The mission met a number of government and state officials, members of several independent commissions, NGOs, the media, human rights organisations, and of the international community. It also undertook
a systematic survey of the literature, including several important reports by independent local and international organisations. Due to the fact that many of the individuals and organisations with whom CHRI interviewed,
held fears for their safety if directly cited, CHRI has maintained their anonymity.
This report is based on that mission, and on considerable reading about the history and current situation of Rwanda. A longer document with more examples and further references has been prepared by CHRI and can
be obtained from them.
II The Commonwealth and rules for membership
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states who were previously part of the British empire. On independence, most colonies opted to join the Commonwealth. It provides for them a framework for consultation and co-operation in the common interests of their peoples and in
the promotion of international understanding and world peace. It has no constitution or charter, but members commit themselves to certain beliefs and values set by the Heads of Government. The basis of these values is the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, agreed at Singapore in 1971, and reaffirmed in the Harare Declaration of 1991. The fundamental political values underpinning the Commonwealth include democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and gender equality, the rule of law, and
sustainable economic and social development.
The fact that the Commonwealth is a ‘family’ of nations which have a common heritage in many fields, including a common language, enables its members to work together in an atmosphere of co-operation
and understanding. Commonwealth governments also learn from each other through their regular meetings at all levels. Apart from the summits there are meetings of ministers and senior officials. The Commonwealth
has an active programme supporting economic development in member nations, helping members meet the millennium development goals both through expert advisers and in highlighting their issues, particularly
those of small states, in international forums. Developing countries are also eligible, through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, for technical assistance and training programmes.
The Commonwealth is a significant voice in international forums. Its members comprise over 40 percent of the membership of the World Trade Organisation, making it influential in global trade. The Commonwealth brings together big and small states, a microcosm of the world, in equal partnership.
The rules for membership have developed over nearly 80 years, reflecting the evolution of the Empire into Commonwealth. They remained largely informal until recently. The formalisation of the rules was principally due to two factors. The first was the need to define its essential principles and values, arising
out of increased membership, with differing political systems and uneven commitment to democracy and human rights. This led to the adoption of the Harare Declaration in 1997 which, following the Singapore
Principles 1971, placed great emphasis on democracy and human rights, and the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme Principles (1995) which establishes sanctions for fundamental breach of the
The second was the interest shown by states with no previous constitutional link to the Commonwealth or its member states for membership. Mozambique was admitted without formal rules in 1995. Concerns that this would allow open-ended expansion of the Commonwealth and dilute its historic ties prompted
the 1995 CHOGM to establish the Inter-Governmental Group on Criteria for Commonwealth Membership (the Patterson Commission). The group recommended that new members would be limited to those with
constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member. Its recommendations were endorsed at the 1997 Edinburgh CHOGM. The rule about a constitutional link with a member state was re-examined
and rejected at the 2007 Kampala CHOGM, which decided a close relationship between a member state and an applicant state would suffice. The rules now require that the applicant state:
endorse the norms, values and principles set out in the Harare Declaration (1991);
be a sovereign state;
enjoy general endorsement of the application from its citizens;
accept the use of English as the language of Commonwealth communications; and
acknowledge the role of the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth.
The 2007 CHOGM also recommended a formalisation of the process of attaining membership, including:
the country will express its interest to the Commonwealth Secretariat;
more formal consultation with Heads of Government will follow;
consultation with civil society must take place, to demonstrate popular support;
if Heads are in agreement then the country will be encouraged to apply; and
at the following CHOGM it will be admitted.
Nevertheless, assessing applications for Commonwealth membership remains problematic. For instance, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) assesses compliance of members with Harare on a very limited basis: what it refers loosely to as “failures of democracy”. This is based almost entirely upon whether or not the country has a democratically elected government. Commonwealth states that commit serious human rights abuses are not placed formally upon CMAG’s agenda.
2 CHRI believes that the procedure for admission to the Commonwealth must include a full and comprehensive review of the situation of human rights in the applicant country. CHRI stands by its previous submissions to the Secretariat
that successful applications must be a “badge of honour”, indicative of the high human rights standards that the member countries and the Commonwealth must observe. Applicant countries should expect to be vigorously scrutinised both at the point of application and subsequently to ensure all members are
compliant. There is no mechanism for monitoring the extent of general public endorsement of the application in the applicant country. There must be a process to ensure that these criteria are met. Furthermore, the process of admitting only those states that comply with stringent standards should be paralleled by better monitoring of current members’ compliance with the Harare Principles.
Although the current membership criteria appear to be supportive of such an approach, there are no benchmarks for membership, and no process for monitoring - the final decision is more one of subjectivity and politics than transparency and consistency. Shifting the negotiation prior to CHOGM does not in itself make it any more transparent, and, given the lack of any mechanism for sounding out civil society, a democratic deficit will remain. Without clear benchmarks for monitoring compliance, the political wrangling
will continue. The emphasis will shift from CHOGM to pre-CHOGM diplomacy and issues such as human rights and civil society participation will continue to be secondary.
III Rwanda: history and background
Rwanda, a former Belgian colony, has a population of about 10 million which consists of three ethnic groups: the Hutu (about 85 percent), Tutsi (14 percent) and Batwa (1 percent). The colonial categorisation of the people into ethnic groups (as elsewhere in Africa) was based more on European racist anthropology than historical reality, but it had a profound impact on the way that the colonial state was organised and on the development of politics and political parties in the run up to, and after, independence. These categories were based on European assumptions of the superiority of some African tribes over others, and mistook social classes or grouping for ethnic categories. This made the social, economic, and political system rigid, built on
imagined differences, and changed the basis for the relations and co-operation between different communities.
Co-operation and mobility between communities were replaced by rigid and hierarchical and competitive relations. These racial categories have continued to bedevil independent Rwanda and are the source of genocide and other forms of extreme violence that has marred its recent history.
Pre-colonial Rwanda was highly organized and had a centralized system of administration. The kingdom was presided over by Umwami (King) from, mainly, the Nyiginya clan of the Tutsi sub-group. The Umwami
had almost absolute powers. The relationship between the king and the rest of the population was unequal, sustained by the highly organized system of “ubuhake”, referred to as a “patron-client” or contractual
relationship between the landed gentry and ordinary subjects. For over 400 years, peaceful co-existence marked this relationship. Pre-colonial Rwanda’s main economic activities were cattle keeping and farming.
Rwandans are agreed that the term Tutsi was used in pre-colonial Rwanda to mean a cattle keeper, and therefore affluent, and Hutu to mean a farmer, and therefore less affluent. But there was mobility between
the two classes, based on the accumulation of wealth.
In 1899 Rwanda became a German colony under German East Africa. After World War I it became a mandate territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium. In 1946 its status changed to a UN trust territory with continued Belgian administration. Over 40 years of Belgian administration
indigenous ways of life were distorted. For practical and political reasons, the Belgians at first favoured the King and his chiefs, who were mostly a Tutsi ruling elite. When the demand for independence began,
mainly by the same previously favoured Tutsi elite, under a political party, Union Nationale Rwandaise (UNAR), the Belgian authorities hastily switched support to a section of Hutu seminarians under a political
party called PARMEHUTU, founded on a sectarian ethnic ideology. On 1 July 1962, Rwanda became independent. Hutu elite politics of 1959 and events leading to independence were crucial to the political life of Rwanda. The first republic excluded Tutsi from all positions of leadership and limited their access to education. All political and economic power was concentrated in the hands of a few members of the Hutu elite from the central region. Serious strife erupted in December 1963 with large-scale massacre of Tutsis. Thousands of Tutsi fled to neighbouring countries. In 1965 Rwanda was declared a one-party state under MDR/PARMEHUTU, which was the architect of the racist ideology that was to be consolidated in the Second Republic under President Major-General Juvenal Habyarimana and the Mouvement Revolutionaire
Nationale pour le Developpement (MRND). A coup, and what was by now perceived as ethnic division, combined with intermittent flows of returning Tutsi refugees in a country where land is both scarce and
main source of livelihood, resulted in ethnic clashes, culminating in the 1994 genocide in which over 800,000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu and Batwa, were murdered.
The genocide followed the death of Habyarimana when his plane was destroyed by a missile as he returned from Arusha after peace talks. This was suspected to be the work of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), organised mainly by Tutsi refugees, which had been fighting a civil war with the government since
1990. The genocide ended when the RPF seized most Rwandan territory and drove the genocidal regime into exile (killings continued for a while, but this time more Hutu than Tutsi were victims).5 The RPF has
ruled the country since 1994, at first under interim constitutional arrangements, sharing power with a limited number of political parties, and since 2003 under a new constitution which it was instrumental in
drafting. Its leader, Paul Kagame was elected to a seven-year term in largely peaceful but seriously marred elections. The constitution was intended to herald a period of democratic and accountable political system, with the separation of power, multi-partyism with elements of power sharing, strong protection of
human rights, and emphasis on equality and national consensus and unity. It has a number of innovative provisions for accountability and power sharing.
Under this constitution, the RPF has continued to dominate the legislature and the executive. It has made significant progress in bringing political stability and economic development to the country. It claims to eschew ethnic politics, and to promote national unity by recognizing merit and integrity, and emphasizing
the equal rights and obligations of citizenship. It has set up a comprehensive system to achieve justice and the rule of law. It credits itself with healing the wounds of the ethnic conflicts and genocide, and the determination to ensure reconciliation and harmony among all the people. It has earned abroad the
reputation of being an honest and efficient government, and aspires to play a leading, constructive role in Africa. President Kagame has been widely acclaimed as an enlightened and purposeful leader.
However, not every one agrees with this assessment. International human rights organizations have generally been critical of what they regard as the RPF’s opportunistic approach to human rights. The dominance of the RPF is said to negate the separation of powers mandated by the constitution. Elections
are manipulated to ensure RPF victories. Decentralisation is likewise dismissed by critics as the means of co-opting and controlling local leaders. Rwanda has been accused of pursuing pro-Tutsi policies under the guise of a non-ethnic approach and the penalization of discussion of ethnic issues. Its economic
recovery is attributed to the massive infusion of foreign aid.
Given the importance of democracy and rights to Rwanda’s credentials, and the very different perceptions of its record, an essential task of the CHRI was to make its own independent assessment.
IV Assessing Rwanda’s record
Rwanda’s application for the membership of the Commonwealth raises firstly, the general question of how the expansion of the Commonwealth affects its values, ambience and procedures, and secondly, the specific issue whether Rwanda meets the prescribed criteria. It is not sufficient that an applicant satisfies the criteria, although whether the test of the Harare Declaration is satisfied, is a matter of judgment on which there can be differences among reasonable people. In other words, the membership criteria go to
the eligibility, not the entitlement, of the applicant. There has to be a very good reason why a country without any prior constitutional link to the Commonwealth should be admitted. But before we proceed to
these considerations, we deal with the formal criteria.
There is little doubt that Rwanda is a sovereign state. It has accepted English as an official language. The constitution and laws are published in English as in other official languages (Kinyarwanda and French).
Many Rwandans, including senior politicians and public servants read, write and speak English (particularly those who grew up in exile in Uganda and Tanzania). English is rapidly becoming the medium of instruction
in higher education, and increasingly at other levels. Rwanda has introduced elements of the common law in its legal system (aiming, as the Minister of Justice explained, at drawing on the best of the common
and civil laws). Since the RPF assumed power, Rwanda has made a deliberate effort to distance itself from the francophonic connections that had constituted such an important part of its identity, state system and international relations (at least in part because of its resentment at French assistance to previous
Hutu dominated regimes), and to move closer to the English speaking world. And undoubtedly it acknowledges the role of the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.
That leaves two criteria which are not so straightforward—general endorsement of the application by citizens, and democracy and human rights. It is exceedingly hard to say what Rwandans think of the Commonwealth, even if they have heard of it. As this report shows, there is not much of a civil society that would be interested and would have views on the application. There are strict restrictions on freedom of expression, and opposition to the position or policies of the government is not easily or readily expressed. So even if there is opposition to membership, it would not be easy to detect it.
However, the chances are that the people know little about the application and probably care less. As this report has indicated, there is little guidance in the membership criteria as to how the will of the people is to be discovered—as by informing and engaging the people on the issue (the Rwanda constitution provides for a referendum to decide important national issues like this, Art. 109, but this might be considered too cumbersome and expensive). Perhaps it is not too late for the Commonwealth to adopt some benchmarks and procedure
for ascertaining public opinion, to be applied to this application. The Commonwealth has already accepted as part of the process of admission that the government must consult with the people and must demonstrate
There is substantial evidence on the record (laws as well as practice) of democracy and human rights, in accordance with general norms as well as those adopted in the Harare Declaration. But, as this report
has hinted, it is not easy to assess the evidence against the standards that Rwanda must meet. In as objective a manner as possible, the report tries to make a judgment of compatibility with the letter and spirit of the Declaration. The Declaration reiterates the long standing principles of the Commonwealth,
among them the following:
belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender,
race, colour, creed or political belief, and in the individual’s inalienable right to participate by means
of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives;
recognition of racial prejudice and intolerance as a dangerous sickness and a threat to healthy
development, and racial discrimination as an unmitigated evil; and
opposition to all forms of racial oppression, and commitment to the principles of human dignity
It then re-commits the Commonwealth to:
the protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth: democracy,
democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the
independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; fundamental human rights, including
equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief;
equality for women, so that they may exercise their full and equal rights;
provision of universal access to education;
commitment to fight poverty and promote economic and social development;
recognition of the importance of the role of non-governmental Commonwealth organizations in
promoting these objectives, in a spirit of co-operation and mutual support; and
promotion of international understanding and co-operation.
The fundamental principles that are addressed in this report are therefore: democracy, the rule of law (including the independence of the judiciary), fundamental human rights regardless of race or creed,
gender equality and equity, and socio-economic rights—and the recognition of the significance of civil society. But before turning to them, the report discusses the broad framework within which most social and political activity is viewed and regulated, and which has an impact on most principles of the Harare
1. The genocide ideology of “negation”, “revisionism” and “trivialization”
Understandably, the RPF government wished to establish a regime in which there would be both an accountability of past atrocities and prevention of future acts of political and ethnic killings. The preamble of the 2003 constitution sets out the people’s “resolve to fight the ideology of genocide and all its manifestations and to eradicate ethnic, regional and any other form of divisions” (the “ideology of genocide” appears in Kinyarwanda as the relatively new term, “Ibengabyitekerezo bya jenocide”, meaning literally the ideas that lead to genocide). The experience of genocide also led the regime to emphasis the unity of the country (“one Rwanda”) and its people, and to ban ethnic
classifications or any discussion of the country’s diversity.
Several provisions of the constitution reflect this approach. A fundamental principle is the “eradication of ethnic, regional and other divisions
and promotion of national unity” (Art. 9, para 3). Article 13 specifies that revisionism, negationism (i.e., denial) and the minimization of genocide were punishable by law while Article 33 states that all ethnic, regionalist, and racial propaganda, and any propaganda based on any other form of division,
are punishable by law. The reference to culture is always to “national culture” (Arts. 50 and 51).
Political parties cannot be based on ethnicity, tribe, clan or “any other division which may give rise to discrimination” (Art. 54). Party lists of candidates at elections must reflect these principles (presumably ignoring ethnic considerations (Art. 77, para 3)). The Senate must supervise the observance of
these principles (Art. 87). There is an emphasis on resolution of disputes between parties by a political parties’ forum, operating on the principle of consensus (Art. 56). Power sharing is secured by the requirement to have a multi-party government, a provision which restricts the majority party
to not more than half the seats in the cabinet, (Art. 116, para 5), and the rule that the President of the Republic and the President of the Chamber of Deputies cannot come from the same party (Art.
58). Citizens are also obliged to promote social solidarity: “Every citizen has the duty to relate to other persons without discrimination and to maintain relations conducive to safeguarding, promoting and reinforcing mutual respect, solidarity and tolerance” (Art.46).
This approach and these provisions are consistent with the emphasis in the Harare Declaration on equality and non-discrimination, and against racism. But many critics allege that this superstructure hides the
reality of the way in which state power is exercised—that the prohibition of ethnic discrimination and the disregard of ethnic factors is a ruse to build and maintain the dominance of the Tutsi. They argue that
political and legal prohibition of “genocide ideology” is used to suppress public discussion and criticism of the past and present conduct of the RPF, particularly the violence that led to its capture of state power
and in its continuing hold on power—the violence which is still manifested nationally and in its armed excursions in neighbouring states.6 They say power sharing is a means of co-opting opposition parties,
as is the emphasis on consensus, and that goals and strategies of reconciliation are geared towards entrenching the power of the RPF. It is undoubtedly the case that the politics of genocide ideology has
become central to Rwandan politics (as this report shows in its discussion of democracy and human rights). As a preliminary to that discussion, the report examines legislation on genocide ideology.
In the 2003 law punishing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, Article 4 prohibits denial, gross minimalisation, and any attempt to justify or approve of genocide as well as any destruction of evidence of the genocide.
Neither the constitution nor the 2003 law provides specific
definitions of the terms “revisionism,” “denial” or “gross minimization.” Persons guilty of “divisionism” are liable to imprisonment for up to five years and to loss of their civil rights. Those convicted of denying or
grossly minimizing genocide, attempting to justify genocide or destroy evidence related to it, are liable to a minimum of ten and a maximum of twenty years in prison.
In June 2008 the parliament adopted a law that criminalises what has been termed “genocide ideology.”Genocide ideology is defined as “an aggregate of thoughts characterized by conduct, speeches, documents
and other acts aiming at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate people based on ethnic group,origin, nationality, region, colour, physical appearance, sex, language, religion or political opinion, committed in normal periods or during war”.
“Negationism” (used in Article 13 of the Constitution) is usually used to refer to the denial of Tutsi genocide and conditions around its implementation and claiming that there was “double genocide” and other crimes
against humanity committed during the war launched by the RPF, and acts of revenge after the 1994 genocide. “Revisionism” refers to movements that attempt to deny an “established fact or ideology”. The
2008 law penalizes “marginalizing, laughing at a person’s misfortune, defaming, mocking, boasting, despising, degrading, creating confusion aiming at negating the genocide which occurred, stirring up ill
feelings, taking revenge, altering testimony or evidence for the genocide which occurred”. Individuals as well as organizations can be punished under this law, with severe penalties. Its vagueness induces extreme
caution on the part of both, even when their work is the investigation of the violation of rights or the integrity of state agencies, understandably because the judiciary has failed to balance the charges against
the freedom of expression and other rights. Politically motivated accusations of divisionism have been used to attack civil society organizations, the press, and individuals. Accusations of divisionism or “genocidal ideology” are among the most effective tools for silencing critics.
What this says about the prospects of “one Rwanda” for the future is uncertain, but including any question
or debate around the deaths of Hutus as the result of retaliation by RPF’s armed forces under genocide
ideology, does not bode well for reconciliation or the coming to terms with the past, or for the protection of
the freedom of expression. The politics of the genocide ideology pervades so many aspects of official
policies and their impact on society that it is now central to any examination of the attitude of the state
towards human rights, governance and civil society (as will be obvious from the following assessment of
Rwanda’s record on rights and governance). There is the danger of the ideology becoming an obsession
with the RPF, disabling it from an objective analysis of political and economic situation in the country,
curbing the freedom of expression, discussion and consultation that is necessary for it to come to terms
with, and avoid the errors of, its past. A perceptive commentator on Rwanda, Gérard Prunier, by no
means unsympathetic to the Tutsi, says that “any mention of the word “Tutsi” or “Hutu” is strictly forbidden
by law.9 This means that any lucid examination of the relationship between Tutsi and Hutu before, during
and after the genocide is now impossible. […] Rwanda is now locked into an ideological straight-jacket
providing a relentless and official interpretation of history from which all shades of meaning have
2. Compatibility with the Harare Declaration
(a) Democracy and governance
The Commonwealth commitment to democratic principles must be viewed and applied as more than
rhetoric, it must seek to ensure that all of a country’s democratic institutions reinforce one another. These
institutions, whether legislative, judicial or executive, must be transparent in their deliberations and
accountable for their decisions. Each institution has a distinct role to play in addition to checking and
balancing other institutions. Rwanda’s constitution provides for a democratic system, with separation of
power, representative institutions, accountability of the government, and a comprehensive bill of rights.
However, many persons told the CHRI mission that the executive was both powerful and authoritarian.
The mechanisms for multi-party government were used to co-opt and neutralise the opposition parties.
The manipulation of the law on genocide ideology, with its broad and vague definition, plus the indoctrination
that the reconciliation strategies facilitate, enhances the influence of the government in all state institutions,
including the judiciary and security forces. Although the constitution establishes a number of independent
institutions (including commissions on the electoral process, prevention of genocide, reconciliation, human
rights, and complaints against the administration), they tend to be staffed by supporters of the government.
And, given a weak civil society, Rwanda gives a strong impression of a one party state.
The 2003 presidential and parliamentary elections presented Rwandans with only a limited degree of
political choice. Most election observers found fault with the elections, including intimidation. Although
marred by a lack of transparency, procedural shortcomings and intimidation,11 which precluded any genuine
challenge to the RPF, the 2003 elections were presented by the RPF as part of a continuing evolution
toward democracy in the country. The regime has, according to some analysts, become even more
repressive since the end of the transition period in 2003.12 Contests for officials at the next higher level
used secret ballots, but it was reported that there were numerous irregularities, including stuffing of ballot
boxes and intimidation of candidates. In a number of contests, voters did not have a choice, as only one
candidate stood.13 The earlier local elections had been conducted by local authorities dominated by the
RPF, and had dispensed with the secret ballot, with voters lining up in different queues.
The RPF dominates the political arena. Eight other political parties associate themselves with the
government. The constitutionally mandated Political Party Forum, to which all parties must belong, operates
on the principle of consensus, and in practice the RPF guides its deliberations. The constitution officially
permits political parties to exist— but under certain conditions. They must not base themselves on race,
ethnic group, tribe, religion “or any other division which may give rise to discrimination” (Art. 54). Political
parties closely identified with the 1994 massacres are banned, as are parties based on ethnicity or religion.
The Senate can bring charges against a political party which violates these principles; such a party if
guilty is dissolved, and all its members in the House of Deputies would lose their seats. A number of
applications for the registration of political parties have been rejected.
The legislative and judicial branches of government have done little to counterbalance the executive or
mitigate the influence of the military in policy making. In practice, power remains firmly concentrated in
the hands of a small inner circle of military and civilian elites, predominantly former Tutsi refugees. In this
way the diversity of Rwanda is negated.
(b) Fundamental human rights
Rwanda has ratified most international and regional human rights treaties. Its constitution contains a
generally excellent chapter on human rights, including socio-economic rights. Both in this chapter and
other parts, there are provisions for the promotion of gender equality and women’s participation in public
affairs. The rights of the marginalised communities (though not directly identified or defined) are given
special consideration, as are those of the disabled and the survivors of the genocide. There is, as already
mentioned, great emphasis on non-discrimination and the equality before the law. The constitution protects
the right to choose one’s employment, and guarantees equal pay for equal work. It ensures to workers
and employers the right to form collectives, for negotiations and other purposes, and additionally, to
workers a qualified right to strike. Free and compulsory primary education is to be provided by the state,
which, together with the people, has commitments to provide medical services.
However the practice of human rights is generally different from the constitutional provisions. An exception
is the impressive improvement in the situation of women, who are well represented in the legislature,
executive and public administration. But even here, with the reduction of public space in which civil
society organizations operate, women’s organizations that had been very effective in lobbying the
government on women’s issues in the past have avoided tackling issues that are not in line with the
government’s policy directives. Discrimination against, indeed oppression of, women continues in families
and communities, as noted by the CEDAW Committee in 1999. While noting that equality between men
and women is enshrined in the Constitution of Rwanda, the Committee expresses concern that
discrimination against women exists in several fields, particularly under the Civil Code and the Family
Code, which recognizes the husband to be the head of the conjugal community. In the context of the
reform of the Civil Code and the Family Code, the State party should take measures to remove provisions
that place women in a situation of inferiority. It is of course understandable that social change takes
longer than enacting a law, but the above points are nevertheless valuable in moderating the claims that
government policies have greatly improved the situation of women.
The government scores well on education, with an impressive expansion in institutions of learning. It also
scores well on economic development, but at the cost of increasing disparities between the rich and the
poor, and urban and rural areas. Whilst the government has acknowledged the impoverished status of
the Batwa and has encouraged district governments to include Batwa and all poor citizens in housing and
tuition assistance programs, it has opposed peaceful organization among Batwa on the grounds that
such organizing violates the principle of national unity. Additionally, other marginalized groups, such as
street children, beggars, sex workers and the indigent, face social discrimination as well as government
policies that infringe on their rights. And, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex peoples (LGBTI)
currently are facing a new law which, if enacted, will criminalize activities that promote discussion or work
on issues related to alternate sexuality.
In 2007, Rwanda abolished the death penalty. This move was widely acclaimed internationally. But not
many noticed that it was, in most cases, replaced by life imprisonment in solitary confinement. As the UN
Human Rights Committee commented, such solitary confinement is against article 7 of the Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. The Committee also expressed concern about reported cases of enforced
disappearances and summary or arbitrary executions in Rwanda and about the impunity apparently
enjoyed by the police forces responsible for such violations. It was also concerned about reported cases
of enforced disappearances and summary or arbitrary executions in Rwanda and about the impunity
apparently enjoyed by the police forces responsible for such violations.
The emphasis in this report is on political rights which are critical to democracy (including the accountability
of the government) and the flourishing of civil society—the freedom of expression and the media, and the
rights to associate and assemble. It is significant that unlike the formulation of most other rights, these
rights are made subject to the law, so that ultimately it is up to the executive and the legislature to
determine their scope.
(i) Freedom of expression
The mission had some sense of the situation of freedom of expression in Rwanda, finding that many
people it wanted to speak to were afraid to speak at all, or would only speak on the assurance of anonymity.
This experience squared with the various reports of human rights organisations, and media reports.
Despite some easing of tensions with broadcast media, overall media independence and freedom of
expression have declined. Several periods marked by courageous journalism criticizing the government,
the RPF, and the president have been followed by crackdowns on the media.
Freedom of conscience and opinion, and their “public manifestation” are protected (Article 33), but only
“in accordance with conditions determined by law”, an expression that returns to the legislature and
executive power that the constitution ostensibly limits. And propagation of ethnic, regional, racial or
discrimination or any other form of division is punishable (Art. 33(2)). Article 34 protects freedom of the
media, but mentions a wider freedom of speech only to say that it must not prejudice various concerns
including public order and morals. Basic legal guarantees of freedom of expression and the media were
contained in the media law adopted in 2002. The law states that the press is free and censorship forbidden,
but in practice the media are still tightly controlled by the government. Articles of the same law impose
criminal sanctions on the media for a wide range of offences such as divisionism and genocide ideology,
punishable by one to five years in prison. Accusations of these crimes are used to intimidate and
Since February 2004, when the government began easing restrictions on broadcast media, the radio
airwaves have become more diverse, with several local and international radio stations broadcasting on
the FM bands. By the end of 2005, at least nine commercial, community, and religious stations were
operating in the country along with new provincial stations belonging to state-owned Radio Rwanda.14
The government has however stopped transmissions of radio stations on several occasions, including of
the FM transmission of Radio France International on 27 November 2006.15 The BBC has been the target
of a number of government complaints, which accused the Corporation in 2004 of propagating “genocide
ideology.” In late 2007, the government accused a BBC journalist, Yusuf Mugenzi, of exacerbating ethnic
differences through the Imvo n’imvano program, which brings together leading - and at times controversial
- figures from the Rwandan diaspora. Government officials accused the programme of giving airtime to
“genocide fugitives,” referring to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu
rebel group based in eastern Congo, some of whose members took part in the 1994 genocide and
continue to threaten stability in the region. There have been threats of suspension of BBC broadcasts on
several occasions and in 2009 its Kinyarwanda broadcasts were in fact stopped.
Since 2005, one of the few independent newspapers, the biweekly Umuco, and its personnel have been
repeatedly harassed and threatened for their criticism of the government, and the publication has been
censored. Copies have been seized, the editor forced into hiding for while, an Umuco journalist was
arrested in 2005, just after he published an article in which he accused Gacaca officials in Gitarama
province of mismanagement and witness tampering17 and imprisoned for nearly 11 months on a charge
related to the 1994 genocide of which he had previously been acquitted.18 Another independent paper,
Umuseso, has been the target of similar treatment; several of its journalists were forced to flee the country,19
and in August 2006, Rwanda’s highest court upheld a ruling imposing a one-year suspended prison
sentence and ordering editor Charles Kabonero to pay the equivalent of US$2,000 damages for defaming
the deputy speaker of parliament in a 2004 article.20 Reporters Without Borders reported in August 2006,
that Bosco Gasasira, the editor of the weekly Umuvugizi, had been receiving threatening phone calls and
had been under surveillance by military intelligence for criticizing Economy and Finance Minister, James
Musoni.21 The director of Umurabyo was jailed in January 2007 for publishing an anonymous letter that
criticized the administration of President Kagame.22 In March 2009, the UN Human Rights Committee
expressed concerns over reports that the Rwandan government had subjected journalists critical of
government policies to intimidation and harassment and had charged other journalists with “divisionism,”
a crime vaguely defined under Rwandan law as spreading ideas that encourage ethnic animosity between
the country’s Tutsi and Hutu populations.
The Government of Rwanda has begun preparing a new law governing the media. This reportedly contains
provisions criminalising non-disclosure of journalists’ sources, and will require editors to hold master’s
degree qualifications in journalism and/or media. It is thought that the law will cause the closure of many
of the already struggling independent local media. The recent legislation, currently awaiting presidential
approval, would make defamation a criminal offence in addition to other civil and administrative sanctions,
and would impose a wide range of restrictions on gathering and reporting information.
(ii) Freedom of association and assembly
The Constitution recognizes freedom of association, but it is restricted in practice, and again the expression
“such freedom shall be exercised under conditions prescribed by law” appears (Art. 35) Rwandan law
protects the right to form, join, and participate in trade unions; however, unions must follow the same
onerous certification and registration process as other NGOs. Overall, trade unions are able to advocate
for the interests of their members to a limited degree. Freedom of assembly has rather weak protection
under the Constitution (Art. 36); it is guaranteed “within the limits fixed by law”23), and is not fully guaranteed
in practice. Protests and demonstrations in support of RPF or government policies occur on a regular
basis. To hold a demonstration, the sponsoring groups must apply for a permit. Between 2004 and 2007,
no demonstrations against government policies or critiquing the RPF had taken place.
(c) Rule of law and the independence of the judiciary
The constitution commits the state to observe the rule of law. The rule of law underlies the principle of
legality, and is critical to the supremacy of the constitution. It requires that all laws must be compatible
with the constitution, and state policies and administration must be compatible with the constitution as
well as laws. State power can only be exercised in accordance with the constitution and valid laws. The
rule of law is also critical to the protection and enforcement of fundamental rights—and the effective
functioning of the economy.
The rule of law depends on the general respect for the constitution and laws. The government and other
agencies of the state must be committed to the principle of legality. Courts, as the primary interpreter and
enforcers of the constitution and the law, must be free, impartial and competent. So should the prosecutorial
authorities. The law must be accessible to the people. Access to justice in a broader sense must be
ensured, including access to legal advice and representation. Most of these elements are provided in the
constitution. Rwanda had made great strides in building the infrastructure of the rule of law. However, the
refusal to incorporate some experienced Hutu judges and prosecutors, who remained in the country or
who returned after the RPF’s victory, as well as the arrest, assassination or departure into exile of a
number of them, has led to a lack of experienced personnel. It also gives rise to the suspicion that the
government wants to control the legal system.
A truly independent legal system is essential to end the culture of impunity. It would require the systematic
prosecution of RPA military responsible for human rights violations. In cases where such abuses have
caused international concern (such as the large-scale massacres of Hutu refugees in Eastern Congo),
the official RPF line has been that those responsible would be prosecuted and punished. However, despite
some reports that transparency and efficiency of the military justice system are improving, prosecution
and punishment seem to remain rather the exception than the rule. Recently President Kagame was
granted immunity for any offences he may have committed prior to his impending retirement (the CHRI
understands that the immunity would cover war crimes and crimes against immunity).
The Arusha Tribunal has expressed doubts about justice in Rwanda Courts, at least in cases involving
charges of genocide. They have expressed concern about the safety of witnesses because of reports of
harassment, detention and even murder of witnesses or potential witnesses. And according to the 2006
Rwandan Senate report, questioning the legitimacy of the detention of a Hutu is one manifestation of
“genocide ideology”. In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, witnesses who appeared for
the defence at the Tribunal, were arrested after their return to Rwanda
The House of Lords in the UK has also blocked extradition to Rwanda on the ground that the accused
would not receive justice. It said that “the question whether a court is independent and impartial cannot
be answered without considering the qualities of the political frame in which it is located. We have had no
day-by-day details from the GoR of the conduct of the Rwandan High Court’s business. No details of
trials; of defences run, successfully or unsuccessfully; no details of any of the myriad events that show a
court is working justly. We have reached a firm conclusion as to the gravity of the problems that would
face these appellants as regards witnesses if they were returned for trial in Rwanda. Those very problems
do not promise well for the judiciary’s impartiality and independence. The general evidence as to the
nature of the Rwandan polity offers no better promise. When one adds all the particular evidence we
have described touching the justice system, we are driven to conclude that if these appellants were
returned there would be a real risk that they would suffer a flagrant denial of justice”.24
Rwanda has a small and for the most part, inexperienced legal profession. Many members are providing
a useful service to the community. It has its own association which is committed to the independence and
ethics of the profession. Its members provide free or inexpensive legal assistance to those who cannot
afford it (although there are difficulties of getting legal advice and representation in political charged
cases). In recent months, the independence of the profession has come under threat of government
intervention, under proposals for a new law governing the profession, which would increase the
representation of the government in its governing council and make inroads into lawyer-client confidentiality.
(i) Gacaca courts and transitional justice
A particular problem for Rwanda’s justice system is the persistence of gacaca courts (based loosely on
traditional conflict resolution mechanisms) which were established to try complex genocide cases. The
dilemma the government faced was that the international tribunal at Arusha could deal with only a limited
number of accused, and that at great cost. Yet there were thousands of persons who had participated in
the genocide who had also to be brought to justice. Given the limited resources and a preference for
reconciliation, it was decided to use the gacaca courts.
The government began implementing gacaca courts in 2005 following a pilot phase, reforms, and
numerous delays. In 2002, the government had decided to implement the courts to try the bulk of
genocide cases. In March 2005, following the preliminary phase of trials, approximately 761,000 suspects
stood accused of genocide.25 The majority of these suspects remain in their communities as the gacaca
courts continue trials; however, unknown numbers have been arrested or rearrested and returned to
prison. The use of these courts has gone on well beyond the original date; and increasing numbers of
persons who were expected to be tried by the formal courts have now been transferred to the jurisdiction
of the gacaca courts, and it is likely that they will continue for some years to come. A number of studies
of their operation have pointed to major deficiencies: the lack of any formal training of judges, their
relative lack of independence, few formal rules of procedure, and fears of victimization, and lack of
security for witnesses. A 2009 report by HRW, noting that in 2008 the government shifted thousands of
the most serious genocide cases from conventional courts to gacaca courts, commented that instances
of faulty procedure, judicial corruption, and false accusations undermine trust in gacaca jurisdictions
among victims as well as the accused. The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed similar
reservations about these courts.
Understandably, achieving justice for the 1994 genocide remains a huge problem. The vast majority of
survivors and families of those who were killed have yet to receive any reparations. Large numbers of
survivors, especially women—many of whom were raped during the genocide and suffer from AIDS—live
in extreme poverty. Many Rwandans continue to suffer the effects of trauma. The government has
established a Fund for Assistance to Genocide Survivors that provides some support to defray the costs
of education and health care. However, a law on reparations has never been finalized and the law
establishing the provision of a fund for legal aid has yet to be realised. With the launching of Gacaca
courts nationwide in 2005, many segments of society began to feel less secure. In some regions, genocide
survivors have been threatened by people who did not want to be accused of genocide crimes, and
gacaca judges have been threatened or harassed. Transitional justice has been and continues to be
largely one-sided as Gacaca will not be used to prosecute alleged revenge killings or war crimes by the
RPF in Rwanda between 1990 and 1995 or in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1996
(d) Civil Society
The importance of civil society (for its positive impact on democracy and accountability as well as
culture and arts) and its participation in the affairs of the Commonwealth are emphasised in the Harare
Declaration. Civil society in Rwanda is very weak. Repercussions of the 1994 genocide continue to be
felt through restrictive and vague laws and broad concepts like “genocide ideology” which have been
used to silence opposition, dissent and criticism of the government. All of the members of Rwandan
civil society who were spoken to in the course of interviewing, researching and writing this report
feared retaliation from the authorities if they were directly quoted or cited. Similarly, many international
organizations and foreigners working in Rwanda were afraid that they would be denied visas and
restrictions would be placed on the functions and operations of their organisations. The restrictions on
the freedom of expression and association mentioned in this report have had a very negative impact
on civil society organizations.
At the end of June 2004, a report by a parliamentary commission on genocide ideology recommended
the dissolution of several international and local NGOs that “preached genocidal ideology and ethnic
hatred.” The organizations mentioned in the list included the only local human rights organization willing
to criticize the government publicly and document human rights abuses committed by government
authorities. Almost all the local organizations named in the report ceased to operate between July 2004
and January 2005. In 2006, all international NGOs and local civil society organizations with ties to France,
or which promoted the French language or culture, were either ejected from the country or forced to close
following the diplomatic row over the indictment of several RPF leaders by a court in France overseen by
the anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguière. The effect of these events has undermined autonomous
civil society in Rwanda, as the surviving civil society organizations are very careful to avoid criticizing the
government, the RPF, the president, or their policies.
Many of what used to be independent non-government organizations are now essentially government
organized non-government organizations (or GONGOs). Those remaining independent organizations
often, like the media, practice self-censorship in order to be able to continue working and receiving foreign
funding. This climate is then aggravated by a judiciary and legal system in which there have in the past
been allegations of executive interference and where the presumption of innocence is not even necessarily
deemed applicable to all types of cases. Moreover, there is little access to justice on the basis of alleged
killings at the hands of the returning RPF forces, after the end of the 1994 genocide. Furthermore, debate
around these deaths risks prosecution for promoting divisionism, negating genocide or indeed, promoting
genocide ideology. It is no wonder in such a situation that members of Rwandan civil society may leave
the country or refer with some cynicism to what could be referred to as the government policy of
(e) International relations
As an association of both governments and people, the issue of inter-state relations has considerable
significance for the Commonwealth. The Harare Declaration expresses the Commonwealth’s interest in
international understanding, co-operation and world peace. Before the Commonwealth makes a decision
on Rwanda’s admission, it should scrutinise Rwanda’s record in this regard. It would seem that for a
variety of reasons the Rwanda government, which maintains a large army, has made military incursions
abroad, particularly into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rwanda’s intervention has been a
major source of instability in the DRC, and has caused great suffering to communities living there,
particularly the eastern part.
The Rwanda government has also refused to co-operate with countries where prosecuting authorities
have issued warrants against its senior party or military officials for crimes against humanity. It has closed
embassies of “offending” states, and victimised NGOs from those countries operating in Rwanda—which
also casts doubts on its commitment to civil society.
V Considerations for a policy on admission
As a Commonwealth human rights organization, CHRI’s primary concern is with the situation of human
rights and democracy. This report show that across various areas Rwanda’s standards fall short of
those proclaimed by the Commonwealth. There is particular concern with the monopolistic role of the
state in propagating versions of history and inter-community relations, which stifles free speech and
free enquiry. The restrictions on the freedom of expression and of the media are serious impediments
to democratic rights and practices in general, and the accountability of the government in particular.
The legal framework and the fear within which social and human rights organizations operate has
greatly weakened civil society. In some critical aspects, the judicial system has had major flaws,
especially the continuing jurisdiction of the Gacaca courts over genocide cases. Such findings lead
logically to the conclusion that Rwanda does not currently meet the pre-conditions for membership
within the Commonwealth and should not be admitted. But there other policy issues relating to admission,
and we turn to their consideration.
Admitting Rwanda has broad-reaching implications for the Commonwealth. New members from nontraditional
Commonwealth membership backgrounds bring with them many positive attributes and learning
that can influence and expand the depth and experience of the inter-governmental organization. Rwanda’s
membership will no doubt increase the diversity within the Commonwealth. It will also increase the number
of member states.
The fact that Rwanda is anxious to join the Commonwealth may be seen as adding to the prestige of the
Commonwealth (although the Commonwealth and particularly the UK should resist gloating over the
anti-French attitudes of the Rwanda government). The much published efficiency and lower levels of
corruption in the Rwanda government may set a good example for the Commonwealth countries lacking
in these qualities. Its experiment in non-ethnic approaches to the ideology and organization of the may be
of particular interest to the numerous countries of the Commonwealth. We understand that sections of
the business community in some Commonwealth countries believe that Rwandan membership would
improve their prospects of investment in, and strengthen economic relations with, Rwanda. The shift to
aspects of the common law might also make transactions easier for it.
But the expansion of membership will change the character of the Commonwealth. Expanding membership
can potentially bring with it states with poor human rights records, suppressed civil society, flawed
governance structures and failures of democracy, which will undoubtedly have the effect of dampening
Commonwealth principles rather than strengthening them. The accommodation of new members at the
level of inter-state relations may not pose major problems, though further increase in members will affect
the informal style of the working of the official Commonwealth, with the implicit and now explicit commitment
to valuable underlying principles. Integration at the level of civil society may be harder (a matter of special
interest to CHRI). A Commonwealth with uneven integration across member states of its various civil
society organizations will certainly reduce its significance as the Commonwealth of peoples. From that
perspective, the distinction between the Commonwealth and other inter-state organizations will diminish—
and so will the rationale for the Commonwealth.
There is also the question of the motives of an applicant. As well as we could fathom, the reasons that
Rwanda wishes to join the Commonwealth have to do with its desire to further distance itself from France,
link itself to the English speaking world, and strengthen its relations with its immediate neighbours (Kenya,
Tanzania, and Uganda) with whom it shares several cultural traditions and now growing economic ties. It
also sees the Commonwealth as offering opportunities for higher education (particularly with
Commonwealth scholarships) and new commercial, trading, and economic advantages and relations.
Rwanda has also expressed an interest in learning more about the common law and its constructive
integration with the francophone civil law. Some of our respondents told us that the Rwandan Government
hopes to achieve a measure of legitimacy through Commonwealth membership, particularly by pointing
that its meets the Commonwealth’s high standards of human rights and democracy. Rwanda’s global
contacts would be facilitated by interaction with several, far-flung parts of the Commonwealth. It could be
argued that many of these advantages could be secured without the membership of the Commonwealth;
and help from members of the Commonwealth could be forthcoming even without full membership.
As a Commonwealth human rights organization, our primary concern is with the situation of human rights
and democracy—which as we have already suggested, is one of two criteria on which there is doubt. Our
subsequent discussion of this has highlighted various areas where Rwanda’s standards fall short of
those proclaimed by the Commonwealth. There is particular concern with the monopolistic role of the
state in propagating versions of history and inter-community relations, which stifles free speech and free
enquiry. The restrictions on the freedom of expression and of the media are serious impediments to
democratic rights and practices in general, and the accountability of the government in particular. The
legal framework and the fear within which social and human rights organizations operate has greatly
weakened civil society. In some critical aspects, the judicial system has had major flaws, especially the
role of the Gacaca courts.
We realize of course that Rwanda has gone through a most horrendous experience of political instability,
violence and genocide. Many of the shortcomings that we have noted can be explained as the result of
this experience—and by the anxiety of the state to avoid a repeat of the terrible killings. We have noted
the efforts of the government to establish a system of governance that emphasizes conciliation and
power sharing, a due process based the legal and judicial system, and the framework of institutions for
the protection of rights, including a human rights commission. The practice does not always live up to
these ideals (as we have also tried to demonstrate). This is in part due to the inherent difficulties of
establishing a new constitutional and political order after forms of extreme violence and societal polarization,
and in part due to state policies.
Our conclusion is that the state of governance and human rights in Rwanda does not satisfy Commonwealth
standards. Rwanda does not therefore qualify for admission to the Commonwealth. It has been argued
that neither do several existing members. Unfortunately, that is certainly true. But there is an important
difference between these states and Rwanda. They became members by virtue of past history of British
colonialism and the convention of more or less automatic membership of the Commonwealth. Until the
Harare Declaration, there were no formalized standards of Commonwealth values. Governments of member
states which deviate seriously from these standards are now subject to disciplinary measures, including
suspension or even exclusion (although the last option has not been exercised so far, on the assumption
that exclusion would be unfair to the people of the state, who may themselves be victims of violations).
Suspension is lifted only when the deviant practices have been abandoned.
Under the framework of these rules and procedures, it does not make sense to admit a state which
already does not satisfy Commonwealth standards. One, admitting such a state would tarnish the reputation
of the Commonwealth and give the impression that leaders of its governments do not really care for
democracy and human rights, and that its periodic, solemn declarations are merely hot air. Second, the
admission of a state below standards will lower the “average”, as it were, of the Commonwealth commitment
to democracy and human rights when it come to its decisions on sanctions against defaulting existing
members, increasing the number of states who have shown little regard for human rights. Third, if the
Commonwealth admits a state below standards, it would have to welcome the new member, if it is to stick
to its self-proclaimed values, by criticizing its democratic and human rights record and considering sanctions.
Fourth, the admission of new members with a poor record will drive a wedge between the governments
and peoples of the government, and reduce the Commonwealth merely to a trade union of governments.
Having said that, we return to the extreme violence among, and the suffering of the Rwanda people,
acknowledge the considerable progress under the present regime, and its public commitment to democracy,
fairness, and human rights. And its traditional ties with some Commonwealth members in its region,
which are likely to become closer. So the CHRI proposes that the GHOGM should welcome Rwanda’s
application. But, in the fashion of the EU when considering applications for membership, the Commonwealth
should reiterate its values, identify ways in which Rwanda falls short of them, and ask it to remedy the
deficiencies (even offering to assist). Once it is satisfied that appropriate laws and practices have been
instituted, Rwanda should be welcomed to the Commonwealth. Rwanda can make important contribution
to the Commonwealth, just as the Commonwealth can enrich Rwanda’s public and private sectors. The
admission of Cameroon was made subject to its satisfying the Commonwealth values and standards as
was the re-admission of Fiji after the first coup.
CHRI makes two recommendations—one is general relating to the process for admission of new members, and the other specific to Rwanda.
I (a) This report has commented on the lack of a mechanism to establish that the people of an applicant
state seek or support membership and that the state satisfies the test of Commonwealth values. CHRI
considers that now is the time to deal with this lacuna, before further applications are received. We
therefore urge the next CHOGM to address these two issues before it proceeds to the consideration of
the Rwanda application. We propose that an independent commission of eminent Commonwealth elder
statespersons, representatives of leading pan-Commonwealth NGOs, and experts on the applicant country
should be set up to review the application and report to the Heads of Government. It would subject the
applicant to rigorous scrutiny of its human rights and democracy record and engage with its civil society,
trade unions, political parties, universities and so on to obtain a sense of public opinion. The commission
should have resources to prepare background materials to inform the people of the applicant state the
history and significance of the Commonwealth and the rights and obligations of membership. If necessary,
it should commission studies on the country’s legal, economic and social systems (to educate the
Commonwealth on the potential new member and enable its communities to assess the eligibility of the
applicant)—in a rudimentary form, this was done in respect of Fiji’s re-admission after it adopted a new
democratic constitution after the coup. Unless this is done, there is the danger that the Commonwealth
could slide into debased standards, and lose its attraction to the people of the Commonwealth—and the
reputation of the organisation.
I (b) with the prospect of new applications, now is the time for renewed debate on the nature and future of
the Commonwealth. The world has changed very significantly in recent decades. there has been a big
growth of new regional and international organisations. What is the relevance of these developments for
the Commonwealth? What will the Commonwealth gain from aspirations to become a universal organisation? What will be the effect of the admission of states without a history or understanding of the Commonwealth? These and other questions should be addressed in the first instance by a commission established jointly by Commonwealth governments and civil society. its report should be disseminated widely and debates by the public.
II This report has made it clear that Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values. There are
considerable doubts about the commitment of the current regime to human rights and democracy. It has
not hesitated to use violence at home or abroad when it has suited it. Consequently its admission would
send the signal, loud and clear, that the commitment of the governments of the Commonwealth countries
to its values is shallow. We therefore suggest that the next CHPGM make no decision on the applicant
other than to set up a procedure to examine the eligibility of Rwanda for membership and the consequences
for the Commonwealth of the expansion in its members. In consultation with Commonwealth civil society
it should set up the commission proposed in the previous paragraph to initiate this discussion. It should
report within a year of its appointment. Its report and recommendation should be the basis of negotiations
with Rwanda. Rwanda should be informed accordingly.
VII Annexure - List of Organisations Consulted
MINISTRY OF INTERNAL SECURITY
MINISTER OF JUSTICE, MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
COMMISSION ON UNITY AND RECONCILIATION
COMMISSION ON THE PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE
RWANDA JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION
RWANDA BAR ASSOCIATION
RWANDAN CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM
LEGAL AID FORUM
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST
THE LEGAL CLINIC (nUr)
THE KIGALI BAR ASSOCIATION
NORWEGIAN’S PEOPLE’S AID
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
THE DANISH INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION
VOICE OF AMERICA
ADVOCATS SANS FRONTIERES
PENAL REFORM INTERNATIONAL
ECOMMONWEALTH POLICY STUDIES UNIT
EMBASSY OF UNITED KINGDOM
1 The Mission was led by Professor Yash Ghai, member of the Advisory Council of CHRI, and former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights in
Cambodia, and Lucy Mathieson, Human Rights Advocacy Programme Coordinator of CHRI.
2 While Fiji was scrutinised in 2009, for failure of the interim government to hold parliamentary elections, Sri Lanka was not, despite allegations of war crimes against its civilians
in its military attacks against the LTTE.
3 Submission from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative to the Working Committee on Commonwealth Membership (November 2006).
4 See Gérard Prunier’s The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (1995) and Alison Des Forges, Leave No One to tell the Story (1999), which link this colonial history to the
present predicament of Rwanda.
5 Professor Rene Lemarchand, a leading scholar of Rwanda and Burundi, writes, “Widely praised at first for stopping the genocide, the virtuous image projected by the FPR is
now being seriously dented: there is a growing body of evidence pointing to its involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in eastern Congo, for its alleged
participation in the military operation that brought down Habyarimana’s plane, and more generally for its responsibility in the 1994 genocide” (Rwanda: The State of Research,
2007: page 12). Several countries have issued warrants against senior members of the RPF for crimes against humanity.
6 Alison Des Forges, well known for her scholarship on Rwanda, wrote that with the capture of Kigali by Paul Kagame’s FPR, on July 4, 1994, the killings of Tutsi finally came
to a halt - but not the killings of Hutu. Just as in the course of the civil war, a large numbers of Hutu civilians were deliberately massacred by FPR troops - a fact substantiated
in the so-called Gersony report, after the UN official who investigated the killings - after the defeat of the génocidaires an even greater number of Hutu lost their lives within and
outside Rwanda at the hands of the FPR (in Leave No One to tell the Story (1999: 726-34)).
7 Law no. 33bis/2003 of 06/09/2003 punishing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, article 4, found at http://droit.francophonie.org/doc/orig/rw/loi/fr/
2003/2003dfrwlgfr1/2003dfrwlgfr1.pdf [Human Rights Watch “Law and Reality” (July 24, 2008) at http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62097/section/8 (last accessed on 16 June 2009)].
8 Law no. 33bis/2003 of 06/09/2003, article 4 and law no. 47/2001, article 1, paragraph 2 and article 3, paragraph 2, articles 5 and 15 [Human Rights Watch “Law and Reality”
(July 24, 2008) at http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62097/section/8 (last accessed on 16 June 2009)].
9 During the commemoration of the victims of genocide in 2009, for the first time since 1994, reference was made to ethnic differentiation, where posters in Kigali, advertising and
commemorating memorial activities, refer to the genocide against the Tutsi. Since then there has been discussion of a constitutional amendment to this effect.
10 Gérard Prunier, “Rwanda – Pain of a Nation” BBC: Focus on Africa, April-June 2009.
11 In accordance with EU election observation methodology, the EU EOM to Rwanda assessed the conduct of the legislative elections in line with international standards for
elections, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Rwanda ratified in 1966 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
(1981). Also applicable is the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (2002).
12 See for example, Filip Reyntjens, “Post-1994 Politics in Rwanda: Problematising ‘Liberation’ and ‘Democratisation’,” Third World Quarterly 27, no. 6 (2006).
13 “Rwanda—Events of 2006” (New York: Human Rights Watch [HRW], 2007) at http://hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/rwanda14782.htm (last accessed on 7 February
14 “Rwanda Country Report,” in Attacks on the Press in 2005 (New York: Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ], 2006).
15 “Radio France Internationale Censored” (CPJ, 2006) at http://www.cpj.org/cases06/africa_cases_06/rwanda27nov06ca.html (last accessed on 19 December 2006).
16 After it broadcast a “trailer” for an airing of Imvo n’imvano that was to include a debate on forgiveness. This included comments by a former presidential candidate, Faustin
Twagiramungu, opposing the government’s attempt to have the country’s entire Hutu population apologize for the genocide, since not all had participated. It also included a man
of mixed Hutu-Tutsi ethnicity questioning why the government had refused to allow relatives of those killed by the RPF forces to grieve for their loved ones. According to
estimates UN High Commissioner for Refugees experts, the group’s soldiers killed between 25,000 and 45,000 people between April and August 1994.
18 “Rwandan Journalist Freed after 11 Months in Jail” (CPJ, 2006) at http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/rwanda31july06na.html (last accessed on 19 December 2006).
20 “High Court Upholds One-Year Suspended Sentence and Heavy Fine for Editor Who Published Political Analysis” (RSF, 2006), at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12964
(last accessed on 19 December 2006).
21 “Umuvugizi Editor Latest Target in Harassment of Independent Press” (RSF, 2006) at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18505 (last accessed on 19 December 2006).
22 “In Rwanda, Newspaper Director Jailed for Publishing Critical Letter” (CPJ, 16 January 2007) at http://www.cpj.org/news/2007/africa/rwanda16jan07na.html (last accessed on
21 February 2007).
23 This is our translation from the French rather than the official English version “if it is not inconsistent with the law”.
24 (Brown (aka Bajinja) & Ors v. The Government of Rwanda Secretary & ana  EWHC 770 (Admin).
25 Rwanda’s incursions into neighbouring countries are analysed in great detail in forthcoming book by Professor Filip Reyntiens published by Cambridge University Press.
26 In February 2008 a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for 40 Rwandan Defence Force officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Spanish,
Rwandan, and Congolese citizens in the 1990s. The prosecution is based on both domestic law and universal jurisdiction, a doctrine which permits national courts to prosecute
the most heinous crimes committed abroad. Rwandan authorities mobilized African governments against such judicial action, labelling it neo-colonialist. In 2006, Rwanda broke
relations with France after a judge issued warrants against nine RDF officers. In August 2008 Rwanda published a report charging French involvement in the genocide and
announced possible prosecutions of French citizens. In November Germany arrested Rose Kabuye, one of the nine, on a French warrant. Rwanda immediately expelled the
German ambassador and organized protest demonstrations in Rwanda and abroad (Human Rights Watch 2009).
CHRI’s work is based on the belief that for human rights, genuine democracy and development to become a
reality in people’s lives, there must be high standards and functional mechanisms for accountability and
participation within the Commonwealth and its member countries. Accordingly, in addition to a broad human
rights advocacy programme, CHRI advocates access to information and access to justice. It does this through
research, publications, workshops, information dissemination and advocacy.
Human Rights Advocacy:
CHRI makes regular submissions to official Commonwealth bodies and member governments. From time to
time CHRI conducts fact finding missions and since 1995, has sent missions to Nigeria, Zambia, Fiji Islands
and Sierra Leone. CHRI also coordinates the Commonwealth Human Rights Network, which brings together
diverse groups to build their collective power to advocate for human rights. CHRI’s Media Unit also ensures
that human rights issues are in the public consciousness.
Access to Information:
CHRI catalyses civil society and governments to take action, acts as a hub of technical expertise in support of
strong legislation, and assists partners with implementation of good practice. CHRI works collaboratively with
local groups and officials, building government and civil society capacity as well as advocating with policymakers.
CHRI is active in South Asia, most recently supporting the successful campaign for a national law in
India; provides legal drafting support and inputs in Africa; and in the Pacific, works with regional and national
organisations to catalyse interest in access legislation.
Access to Justice:
Police Reforms: In too many countries the police are seen as oppressive instruments of state rather than as
protectors of citizens’ rights, leading to widespread rights violations and denial of justice. CHRI promotes
systemic reform so that police act as upholders of the rule of law rather than as instruments of the current
regime. In India, CHRI’s programme aims at mobilising public support for police reform. In East Africa and
Ghana, CHRI is examining police accountability issues and political interference.
Prison Reforms: CHRI’s work is focused on increasing transparency of a traditionally closed system and exposing
malpractice. A major area is focused on highlighting failures of the legal system that result in terrible overcrowding
and unconscionably long pre-trial detention and prison overstays, and engaging in interventions to ease this.
Another area of concentration is aimed at reviving the prison oversight systems that have completely failed. We
believe that attention to these areas will bring improvements to the administration of prisons as well as have a
knock on effect on the administration of justice overall.
COMMONWEALTH HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE
B-117, IInd Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi - 110 017
Tel.: +91-(0)11 2686 4671, 2685 0523
Fax: +91-(0)11 2686 4688
Rwanda’s application for the membership of the Commonwealth raises the question, more generally, of how qualifications for membership are prescribed and determined. More specifically, whether Rwanda meets the prescribed criteria, in particular the standards of democracy and human rights as enshrined within the Harare Declaration. Opening up
membership, has broad-reaching implications for the Commonwealth as a whole. New members from non-traditional Commonwealth membership backgrounds bring with them many positive attributes and learning that can influence and expand the depth and experience of the inter-governmental organization. However, expanding membership can potentially also bring with it States’ with poor human rights records, suppressed civil society, flawed governance structures and failures of
democracy, which will undoubtedly have the effect of dampening Commonwealth principles rather than strengthening them. Within such a context, there is a need for great care and analysis to be undertaken in assessing applications for membership. A careful balancing needs to occur so as to be able to follow a transparent and participative
application procedure, which resonates deeply from within the Commonwealth’s own values, specifically the Harare Declaration. It is in this vein that the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) proceeded to undertake a fact-finding into the human rights situation in Rwanda. Aware that the Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a similar
process during 2008, the findings of which were articulated in a confidential report, CHRI saw the value within the rubric of a rights-based approach, to facilitate a Commonwealth civil society report on Rwanda,which would be situated in a grass-roots analysis of the human rights context within the country and encapsulate analysis of the constitutional
framework within Rwanda. In this respect, the investigation and this report is based almost wholly on a human rights assessment as framed around the principles contained within the Harare Declaration.
The principal key root causes that lead to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that affected all Rwandan ethnic groups were:
1)The majority Hutu community’s fear of the return of the discriminatory monarchy system that was practiced by the minority Tutsi community against the enslaved majority Hutu community for about 500 years
2)The Hutu community’s fear of Kagame’s guerrilla that committed massacres in the North of the country and other parts of the countries including assassinations of Rwandan politicians.
3) The Rwandan people felt abandoned by the international community ( who was believed to support Kagame’s guerrilla) and then decided to defend themselves with whatever means they had against the advance of Kagame’ guerrilla supported by Ugandan, Tanzanian and Ethiopian armies and other Western powers.
-“The enemies of Freedom do not argue ; they shout and they shoot.”
-“The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
-“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
-“I have loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore I die in exile.”
The Rwanda war of 1990-1994 had multiple dimensions.
The Rwanda war of 1990-1994 had multiple dimensions. Among Kagame’s rebels who were fighting against the Rwandan government, there were foreigners, mainly Ugandan fighters who were hired to kill and rape innocent Rwandan people in Rwanda and refugees in DRC.
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SUMMARY : THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE BRITISH BUDGET SUPPORT AND GEO-STRATEGIC AMBITIONS
The Rwandan genocide and 6,000,000 Congolese and Hutu refugees killed are the culminating point of a long UK’s battle to expand their influence to the African Great Lakes Region. UK supported Kagame’s guerrilla war by providing military support and money. The UK refused to intervene in Rwanda during the genocide to allow Kagame to take power by military means that triggered the genocide. Kagame’s fighters and their families were on the Ugandan payroll paid by UK budget support.
· 4 Heads of State assassinated in the francophone African Great Lakes Region.
· 2,000,000 people died in Hutu and Tutsi genocides in Rwanda, Burundi and RD.Congo.
· 600,000 Hutu refugees killed in R.D.Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic and Rep of Congo.
· 6,000,000 Congolese dead.
· 8,000,000 internal displaced people in Rwanda, Burundi and DR. Congo.
· 500,000 permanent Rwandan and Burundian Hutu refugees, and Congolese refugees around the world.
· English language expansion to Rwanda to replace the French language.
· 20,000 Kagame’s fighters paid salaries from the British Budget Support from 1986 to present.
· £500,000 of British taxpayer’s money paid, so far, to Kagame and his cronies through the budget support, SWAPs, Tutsi-dominated parliament, consultancy, British and Tutsi-owned NGOs.
· Kagame has paid back the British aid received to invade Rwanda and to strengthen his political power by joining the East African Community together with Burundi, joining the Commonwealth, imposing the English Language to Rwandans to replace the French language; helping the British to establish businesses and to access to jobs in Rwanda, and to exploit minerals in D.R.Congo.
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This blog reports the crimes that remain unpunished and the impunity that has generated a continuous cycle of massacres in many parts of Africa. In many cases, the perpetrators of the crimes seem to have acted in the knowledge that they would not be held to account for their actions.
The need to fight this impunity has become even clearer with the massacres and genocide in many parts of Africa and beyond.
The blog also addresses issues such as Rwanda War Crimes, Rwandan Refugee massacres in Dr Congo, genocide, African leaders’ war crimes and crimes against humanity, Africa war criminals, Africa crimes against humanity, Africa Justice.
-General Kagame has been echoing the British advice that Rwanda does not need any loan or aid from Rwandan traditional development partners, meaning that British aid is enough to solve all Rwandan problems.
-The British obsession for the English Language expansion has become a tyranny that has led to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, dictatorial regimes, human rights violations, mass killings, destruction of families, communities and cultures, permanent refugees and displaced persons in the African Great Lakes region.
- Rwanda, a country that is run by a corrupt clique of minority-tutsi is governed with institutional discrmination, human rights violations, dictatorship, authoritarianism and autocracy, as everybody would expect.