Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Rwanda
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 April 2005|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Rwanda, 14 April 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747c8d97.html [accessed 1 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Arbitrary demand for dissolution of the LIPRODHOR and legal proceedings against its members96
In April 2003, the League for the Promotion of Human Rights in Rwanda (Ligue rwandaise pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l'Homme – LIPRODHOR) was accused of "divisionism" by a parliamentary commission set up at the end of 2002 and tasked with investigating into the Democratic Republican Movement (Mouvement démocratique républicain – MDR), an opposition party dissolved since. At that time, the LIPRODHOR was accused of collaborating with the MDR and benefiting from political funding, and had to face up to a vast smear campaign, widely broadcast in the media.
At the end of 2003, a parliamentary commission tasked with investigating into the possible propagation of the ideology of genocide, prohibited by Rwandan law, was set up following the murders of several of the survivors of the 1994 genocide in the Gikongoro province.
On 27 June 2004, this commission submitted its conclusions to the Parliament, and in particular recommended that the LIPRODHOR, which was accused of "propagating the ideology of genocide in Rwanda", be dissolved, and legal action be undertaken against its members. The commission's report also asked for the dissolution of four other organisations for the same reason, namely the Forum of Rural Relatives (Forum des organisations rurales), Remembrances of Parents (Souvenirs des parents), SDA-Iriba and 11.11.11, an organisation based in Belgium.
On 30 June 2004, the Parliament adopted a resolution which repeated the terms of the commission's report, asking the government to dissolve the LIPRODHOR as well as the three other above mentioned local organisations. In addition, some members of the Parliament demanded the security forces and national justice to pursue and severely punish the managers, employees and members of these organisations, going as far as circulating a list of thirteen people of which nine were members of the LIPRODHOR: Mr. Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, president, Mrs. Marthe Nyiranzeyimana, assistant representative in Kigali, Mr. Fabien Bakizanya, head of the legal commission, Mr. Balthazar Ndagijimana, treasurer, Mr. Aloys Habimana, head of programmes, Mr. Jean Bosco Molisho, member of the LIPRODHOR branch in Kibungo, Mr. Ruben Niyibizi, administrative and financial manager, Mr. Jean Damascène Ntaganzwa, manager of the LIPRODHOR branch in Gitarama, and Mr. Félicien Dufitumukiza, head of logistics.
Given the seriousness of this measure and the threats hanging over their safety and integrity, these people were forced to go into exile, in particular to Kampala (Uganda) and Bujumbura (Burundi).
On 19 September 2004, the members of the LIPRODHOR in exile in Uganda were subjected to harassment and arbitrary arrests. Messrs. Bakizanya, Ndagijimana, Habimana, Molisho, Niyibizi, Ntaganzwa, and Dufitumukiza were arrested at their hotel in Kampala by the Ugandan police, probably at the request of the Rwandan authorities. These seven people were accused of taking refuge in Ugandan in order to destabilise the Rwandan government, and were released on 21 September 2004, as a result of international pressure.
In addition, on 18 and 19 September 2004, Mr. Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, president of the LIPRODHOR, and Mrs. Yvonne Niyoyita, member of the Cyangugu branch, both in exile in Bujumbura, were watched by an agent of the Immigration and Customs Office, known to be a member of the Department of Military Intelligence of Rwanda (DMI).
Given the danger which the members of the LIPRODHOR were encountering in Burundi and in Uganda, all of these people were taken into the care of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR). By the end of 2004, all of them were resettled in Europe.
In the meanwhile, on 11 September 2004, an extraordinary general assembly of the LIPRODHOR was convened in Kigali, in the absence of the elected managers of the organisation, to proceed with the election of a new board of directors. Most of the members of the new board, who were closely connected with the authorities, then backed up the terms of the parliamentary commission's report, pointing out that this report "[showed] that certain members [were] responsible for the misconduct which was in the end attributed to the LIPRODHOR, whilst it had not in fact given them authority for this". The new board also decided to "take measures against the members responsible for this misconduct" and to "ask forgiveness from the Rwandan people and their government for the misconduct of certain members and employees which has been attributed to the league". Finally the general assembly "thanked the Rwandan government for its unfailing collaboration with the LIPRODHOR".
On 19 September 2004, the government published its conclusions on the parliamentary commission's report, and welcomed the fact that the "new" LIPRODHOR had separated from "its members who supported the ideology of genocide". The government also stated that "some Rwandans [were] still in favour of ethnic separation, led by the genocide ideology [...] in some associations, non-governmental organisations [...] as well as among civil society" and urged these organisations to "carry out a courageous self-criticism to right the criticism made against certain leaders (of the government), [...] and to severely punish their members".
Moreover, members of the "true" LIPRODHOR who were not able to leave Rwanda were subjected to a great deal of pressure. Mr. Pasteur Nsabimana, responsible for familiarising policy makers with human rights, and Mr. Mï¿©rari Muhumba, secretary, who did not have passports, were not able to leave the country in July 2004. They were notified by a letter from the "new" LIPRODHOR board of directors, dated 8 December 2004, of their dismissal from the league because of their "divisionism". As this letter was made public, the authorities became aware of the matter and placed Messrs. Nsabimana and Muhumba under house arrest. At the end of December 2004, this order had still not been lifted.
Restriction on the freedom of association and threats against members of the Community of Indigenous People of Rwanda97
In a letter dated 28 June 2004, the Minister of Justice advised the Community of Indigenous People of Rwanda (Communauté des autochtones rwandais – CAURWA), an organisation defending the rights of the Batwas in Rwanda, that the organisation's request to be recognised as a legal entity was refused on the grounds that "the aim and name of the organisation [were] contrary to the constitutional principles of the Republic of Rwanda".
The Ombudsman explained this decision in a letter dated 8 October 2004, by indicating in particular that the names "indigenous" and "Batwa", which were used several times in the statutes and rules of procedures of the CAURWA, were contrary to the fundamental principles of the Constitution of Rwanda aimed at "eradicating finally the divisions based on tribal origin, regionalism and other division", thus inferring that the CAURWA was promoting "divisionism". The Ombudsman also advised the organisation to modify its status to bring them into line with these principles.
On 24 November 2004, the CAURWA received a letter from the Minister of Justice dated 9 November, repeating his refusal to grant legal status to the organisation on the grounds that it still did not conform to the Constitution, and demanding the suspension of its activities as long as the situation was not remedied.
There is every indication that this decision was part of the reprisals against the activities of the CAURWA at the 36th session of the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). Indeed, Messrs. Zéphirin Kalimba and Amédée Kamota, respectively director and head of the human rights programme of the CAURWA, submitted in Dakar an alternative report to the periodical report by the Rwandan government, to which the members of the Commission referred when questioning the Rwandan Minister of Justice. Replying to the questions of members of the Commission, a representative of the Rwandan government directly threatened Mr. Zéphirin Kalimba, quoting in particular his name and making reference to his wife and one of his children.
At the end of 2004, the CAURWA – which operates throughout the whole territory and whose mandate is to condemn the discrimination to which the indigenous "Pygmy" populations in Rwanda are subjected was continuing negotiations with the Rwandan government aimed at showing that the objectives of the organisation are not contradictory to the principles of the Constitution. The decision to modify or not the status of the CAURWA should be taken at the beginning of 2005 at its general assembly.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
96. See Annual Report 2003 and Urgent Appeals RWA 001/0704/OBS 055 and 055.1.
97. See Urgent Appeal RWA 002/1204/OBS 090.