Countdown to Human Rights Day
UN Human Rights HQ in Geneva recently opened its doors to the public. Here’s what they saw and learned.
On 4 February 1997, five human rights observers from the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) were shot dead in the southwest of Cyangugu prefecture. The observers - three Rwandans, a Briton and a Cambodian - were travelling in two clearly marked United Nations vehicles in Karengera commune when ambushed by a large group of unidentified armed men.
The Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda was established at the request of the Government of Rwanda as part of the international community's response to the genocide and civil war that took place in Rwanda in 1994. As a result of those events, the institutions of justice, law enforcement, local administration and the civil service, as well as the social fabric of Rwanda, were completely destroyed. The Field Operation was designed, therefore, to meet not only the most immediate and pressing human rights needs, but also to put in place medium- and long-term initiatives so as to develop a human rights culture in Rwanda.
As set out in the 1994 agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Rwanda, the Field Operation's mandate was to investigate the genocide and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that took place during the armed conflict in Rwanda from April to July 1994; to monitor the ongoing human rights situation; to facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons and the rebuilding of civil society; and to implement a programme of technical cooperation in the field of human rights, particularly in the administration of justice.
Sastra Chim Chan
Jean Bosco Munyaneza