Human Rights context
In 2007, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) deployed the Human Rights Adviser (HRA) in Rwanda to focus on, inter alia, the provision of technical assistance to Rwanda to comply with its reporting and follow-up commitments to treaty bodies.
Rwanda is one of the countries in which the One UN Concept is being piloted. This is an initiative that provides for the United Nations (UN) bodies and agencies to work together in order to avoid fragmentation, increase impact, effectiveness and coherency. The One UN programme has provided technical and financial support to Parliament, relevant Government ministries, the justice sector, human rights institutions and civil society in an effort to support their efforts and build their capacity to protect and promote human rights through a range of activities.
Rwanda suffered horrific violence, stemming from ethnic tensions and tribalism, during a brief war which initially begun in 1990 when exiled Tutsi Rwandans living in Uganda crossed the border and invaded. The unrest which followed culminated in genocide, with approximately 800,000 people killed in the space of three months during 1994. Over one million people became internally displaced through fleeing violence and the detrimental effects of warfare on their homes and communities.
Several treaty bodies noted Rwanda’s efforts to prevent impunity for perpetrators of genocide and other human rights violations and to bring those most responsible for such acts to justice. However, they remained concerned that impunity prevailed, notably in some cases involving unlawful acts committed by members of the security forces. The treaty bodies recommended that Rwanda continue addressing impunity through the judicial process.
In 2010, the High Commissioner commended Rwanda’s efforts to shape a new society that is inclusive and which explicitly rejects historical discrimination and noted the progress towards gender equality. Rwanda has made a commendable effort to meet with its treaty reporting obligations, as highlighted in the Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review adopted on 26 January 2011.
Human rights violations continue to be reported in Rwanda, including cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances, violence against children, trafficking, gender based violence, unlawful detention and discrimination.
The last elections of 2010 held in Rwanda were largely considered by the international community to have been successfully organised. The international community and NGOs continue to call for political pluralism.
The National Commission for Human Rights in Rwanda (NCHRR) was accredited with ‘A status’ by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) in 2001, which was reconfirmed in October 2007. The HRA provided technical and financial support to strengthen its work, such as an effective system to handle complaints regarding human rights violations.
The Government of Rwanda was examined under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process in January 2011 and the report adopted by the HRC in June 2011. The Rwanda government accepted 67 out of 73 recommendations made.
The priorities of the HRA will include:
a. Strengthening of national human rights institutions
Advise the Government, representative bodies and national human rights institutions on how best to promote UN normative values; enhance legal frameworks and judicial capacity to take into account international human rights principles and develop the national capacity of protection machinery, including its ability to meet international reporting obligations
b. Cooperation with human rights mechanisms
In close partnership with the inter-ministerial treaty body taskforce, support the framework for implementation and follow up of treaty body recommendations and the outcomes of the UPR.