U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Rwanda
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Rwanda, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1cc.html [accessed 1 May 2016]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
RWANDAThe largely Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which took power following the civil war and genocide of 1994, is the principal political force and controls the Government of National Unity. President Pasteur Bizimungu, an ethnic Hutu, and Vice President and Minister of Defense Paul Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, both belong to the RPF. The mainly Hutu Republican Democratic Movement retains the office of Prime Minister. Prime Minister Pierre Rwigema, a Hutu, runs the Government on a daily basis and is responsible for relations with the National Assembly. The judicial system functions only on a limited basis as in 1996. The Minister of Defense is responsible for internal security and military defense; the Minister of Interior is responsible for civilian security matters. The security apparatus consists of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and the gendarmerie, which is largely made up of RPA soldiers. Civilian police with limited arrest powers work throughout the country. Security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses. The economic situation remains difficult. The interethnic violence from 1990 onward and especially in the massive genocide in 1994 resulted in the neglect and massive destruction of much of the country's economic infrastructure, including utilities, roads, and hospitals. Most citizens are subsistence farmers, and food production even before the war had barely kept pace with population growth. Small-scale commercial activities are on the increase, but the industrial base remains neglected. Gross Domestic Product is about $180 per year. The Government continued to be responsible for numerous serious human rights abuses. Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The RPA used brutal tactics and killed hundreds of civilians. Some killings were for political reasons, some were acts of revenge, and some were committed during security sweeps. Prison conditions are harsh and life threatening. Authorities hold more than 120,000 prisoners in overcrowded jails; most are accused of participating in the 1994 genocide. Due process rights provided in the Constitution are not assured. Genocide trials, which began at the end of 1996, continued, with approximately 200 cases completed. Trials for every accused person now held by the authorities are expected to take years to complete. Throughout the year, the Government released small numbers of suspects who had no completed files or were ill or elderly. At year's end, approximately 3,000 had been released. However, some of these suspects were subsequently rearrested. There were also reports of some revenge killings of those released. The authorities harassed and threatened journalists, and freedom of assembly and association, political activity, and freedom of movement are restricted. Discrimination and violence against women and discrimination against indigenous people are problems. The genocidal militias that massacred Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 continued their campaign of ethnic extermination. Insurgents, including returned refugees, committed many politically motivated killings, including the killing of Tutsi survivors of the genocide, Tutsi refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, expatriate human rights monitors, and aid workers. The militias, composed of members of the defeated army, the former Rwandan Armed Forces (Ex-FAR) and Interahamwe genocide gangs, tried to intimidate foreigners, increased friction between the security forces and the Hutu population and created insecurity on the roads.