Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Rwanda
Represented by four- member delegation headed by Mr. Johnston Busingye, Minister of Justice

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit
the  Rwanda page on the UPR webpage

Troika *

Bolivia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on Rwanda page on UPR Extranet **)
Rwanda intro…

  • The head of delegation noted that his Government implemented 63 of the 67 recommendations received during its first UPR in 2011 while the remaining four were in progress today;
  • Rwanda was currently State party to eight core UN human rights instruments and in the period since its last UPR had ratified the Optional Protocols to the Convention against Torture and the Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights;
  • Rwanda has also issued a standing invitation to all UN Special Procedures since its last review and three special rapporteurs had since visited the country;
  • Rwanda has achieved all but one of the Millennium Development Goals and was firmly committed to delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Today the majority of Rwandans had a form of health insurance, free 12-year basis education and the highest representation of women in Parliament in the world, the head of delegation remarked;
  • Since 2011, key institutions for the  protection of human rights have been created such as the National Commission for Children, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Rwanda Governance Board which was responsible for promoting good governance and for creating an enabling environment for civil society organisations and the media;
  • In view of Rwanda’s commitment to promote reconciliation, evidenced by the success of the Gacaca courts which process close to two millions cases of genocide suspects, the Government established mediation committees known locally as “Abunzi”. Today there were 17,741 Abunzi in the country; 
  • The Rwanda National Police maintained a desk within the Criminal Investigations Department dealing with specifically unresolved cases including alleged disappearances;
  • All detention facilities in Rwanda were legally provided for and documented in accordance with established national and international standards. In addition, all places of detention were regularly inspected by public institutions;
  • Since its first UPR, Rwanda has initiated and implemented reforms in the media primarily aimed at expanding media freedoms, creating a media that was citizen centred, boosting the media industry and investing and bringing in self-regulation in the sector;
  • Between 1962 and 2012 there were only 350 registered civil society organisations in Rwanda. From 2012 and 2015 there are over 1,600 registered.  Today all local NGOs, political parties and faith based organisations were registered by the Rwanda Governance Board;
  • Several programmes have been initiated by the Ministry of Health in partnership with other stakeholders to address child malnutrition including periodic training of health workers on malnutrition.

Participants

In total 88 States participated in the dialogue: 36 HRC members and 52 observers  (Statements available on Rwanda page on UPR Extranet )

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The creation of the National Commission for Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman;
  • Issuing a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures; 
  • Ratification of the OP-CAT;
  • Efforts to reforms the education sector;
  • Progress made in achieving MDGs and the Vision 20/20 programme aimed at poverty reduction;
  • The creation of the National Commission for Children.  

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to enable a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders;
  • Measures to reform the media and ensure freedom of the media;
  • Ensuring the effective realisation of the right to education;
  • Strengthen the independence and functioning of the judiciary;
  • Addressing, investigating and prosecuting all cases of forced disappearances;
  • Steps to ratify the Rome State if the ICC.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Rwanda.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To create and maintain a safe and enabling environment where human rights defenders, journalists and civil society could operate freely and unhindered; To enact specific laws and policies recognising and protecting the work of human rights defenders;
  • To ensure no one was subjected to criminal process for exercising rights to freedom of assembly and of association; To implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly;
  • To take all necessary measures to protect journalists from harassment and attacks and to ensure all such cases were investigated; To take measures to effectively implement 2013 media reform legislation;
  • To ensure the effective realisation of the right to education and to provide adequate funding and support in that regard;
  • To ensure the protection of the rights of children, particularly those in vulnerable situations; To adopt a comprehensive policy to avert the trafficking of children;
  • To improve access to maternal health services; To take measures to reduce maternal mortality rates; 
  • To strengthen the independence and functioning of the judiciary; To extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers;
  • To investigate and prosecute all cases of forced disappearances; To implement further legislation to regulate “transit” and rehabilitation centres;
  • To investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police and security forces; To set up a national preventative mechanism in line with OP-CAT requirements;
  • To ensure agricultural policies did not undermine the food security or land rights of the most vulnerable; To promote the land use management for better safeguarding of property rights;
  • To ensure asylum-seekers’ rights and family reunification without discrimination;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on enforced disappearances, the Rome Statute of the ICC, ILO Convention 189 (domestic workers), the Third OP to the CRC (communication), the First OP to the ICCPR, and the OP to the ICESCR.  

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report -recommendations section- of the UPR Working Group on Rwanda is scheduled to take place on Friday, 6 November 2015

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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