Human rights context
Rwanda has made impressive gains with respect to the economy, health, education and women’s empowerment since the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. One of the fastest growing economies in Central Africa, Rwanda notched up GDP growth of around 8% per year between 2001 and 2014. Despite this achievement, approximately 60% of the population live on less than USD 1.25 per day. Between 2000 and 2015, Rwanda achieved the highest average annual reduction in both the under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio in the world. Its health policies have ensured access to 91% of the population. All children in Rwanda are entitled to 12 years of free education, taking them all the way through primary and secondary levels. Today, there is close to 100% countrywide enrollment in primary schools. The Government recognized women as key players in the reconstruction and development of the country and at the same time peace building and reconciliation. The commitment of women resulted in the introduction of several policies, laws and programs to maximize the participation of women and advance their economic status and well-being. Successful implementation of these policies, procedures and programs left a tremendous impact on the rural and urban women’s lives by reducing poverty and increasing political participation of women, for example. Women have over half of the seats in Parliament.
The most significant human rights issues include arbitrary killings and politically motivated disappearances by security forces; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest; security forces’ disregard for the rule of law; prolonged pretrial detention; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights and on freedoms of speech, assembly and association; restrictions on and harassment of media and some local and international non-governmental organizations; restrictions on freedom to participate in the political process and ability to change government through free and fair elections; harassment, arrest and abuse of political opponents and human rights advocates; trafficking in persons; and restrictions on labour rights.
In 2007, OHCHR deployed a Human Rights Advisor 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 bodies and agencies to work together to avoid fragmentation, increase impact, effectiveness and coherence. 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 efforts and build capacity to protect and promote human rights through a range of activities.
Rwanda is party to 8 out of the 9 core human rights treaties (not yet a party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances). It also issued a standing invitation to all thematic special procedures. It has received visits by a number of special procedures mandate holders and recently accepted a request from the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. It has outstanding requests for visits by the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on rights to water and sanitation; on freedom of assembly; the Independent Expert on Older Persons; the Working Groups on arbitrary detention; and on discrimination against women in law and in practice.