On 25th January 2021, the Minister of Justice and State Attorney General, Johnston Busingye presented Rwanda’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the Human Rights Council. Minister Busingye explained that Rwanda respected human rights principles in terms of freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of press; and freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.
He stated that the country has been efficiently implementing recommendations received in 2015.
Commenting on some organizations that have been accusing Rwanda of harassing opposition figures and journalists; Minister Busingye explained that it is untrue because Rwanda’s judiciary is independent and makes fair judgment.
“There are no prosecutions that target persons simply because they are politicians or journalists or human rights defenders, and the so-called political trials do not exist, nor are trials against journalists or human rights defenders just for being journalists or human rights defenders,” he said.
After presenting the report; UK envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland Julian Braithwaite said that Rwanda still need to implement some recommendations to improve human rights record.
“The United Kingdom welcomes Rwanda’s strong record on economic and social rights, and promotion of gender equality. We remain concerned, however, by continued restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom. As a member of the Commonwealth, and future Chair-in-Office, we urge Rwanda to model Commonwealth values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights,” he said.
Julian Braithwaite also recommended Rwanda to: ‘Conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture, and bring perpetrators to justice’.
Among others, he urged Rwanda to ‘Protect and enable journalists to work freely, without fear of retribution, and ensure that state authorities comply with the Access to Information law. Screen, identify and provide support to trafficking victims, including those held in Government transit centres’.
Following these claims, Rwanda’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland has via twitter handle said that these recommendations are unfounded.
“The Government of Rwanda regrets the unfounded recommendations put forward by the UK Mission in Geneva which have no basis in reality and go against established UPR peer protocol,” reads the message.
“And more importantly, Rwanda seeks, among other things, to improve the human rights situation on the ground. In the context of the UK’s silence regarding blatant violations of human rights elsewhere in the region, this baseless attack on a partner country is deeply unfortunate,” adds the message.
Human rights activists usually accuse Rwanda of detaining people in unofficial military detention centers where they are tortured, harassing opposition figures and journalists.
As he presented the UPR, Minister Busingye explained that such allegations by rights activists ‘are unfounded and motivated by the political interest and agenda of those who advance them’.