Critics of the government, including human rights activists and journalists, were subjected to human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and attempted extrajudicial execution. Tens of thousands of people were arrested in connection with the 1994 genocide, many arbitrarily; more than 92,000 were held without trial at the end of the year. Some were ill-treated in detention, and most were held in extremely harsh conditions, with scores dying as a result. The first trials of those accused of participation in the genocide did not conform to international standards of fairness. There were reports of "disappearances". The army extrajudicially executed hundreds of civilians. The government forcibly expelled nearly 400 refugees to Burundi. Armed opposition groups committed grave human rights abuses, including deliberate and arbitrary killings. In the first three-quarters of the year, conflict increased between armed groups, based primarily in Zaire, and government forces, the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA). The armed groups were believed to be composed of former Rwandese government forces and interahamwe militia responsible for the 1994 genocide. They operated in and around the refugee camps in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi, where more than two million, mostly Hutu, refugees had fled when the Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front took power in July 1994. The armed groups continued to intimidate the refugee population and attempted to prevent them from returning to Rwanda. In September, fighting broke out in Zaire between Tutsi-led Zairian armed groups, apparently supported by the Rwandese Government, and Zairian government soldiers acting in conjunction with the former Rwandese government forces and militia. More than one million Rwandese refugees were deprived of all humanitarian aid by the fighting. The international community proposed a multinational military intervention force but it was not deployed. Between 15 and 19 November, some 500,000 refugees returned to Rwanda for fear of being killed in Zaire. Around 200,000 more crossed over into Rwanda in the following weeks. Several hundred thousand Rwandese refugees remained in eastern Zaire, without assistance or protection, where they suffered grave abuses by Zairian soldiers and Zairian and Rwandese armed groups. In December, most of the estimated 540,000 Rwandese refugees in Tanzania were also forced to return to Rwanda, following a joint statement issued by the Tanzanian Government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that all Rwandese refugees were expected to leave by 31 December. The statement made no mention of any options for those who continued to fear human rights violations in Rwanda. There were reports of ill-treatment of refugees by Tanzanian security forces during the mass forced repatriation. In July and August, around 75,000 Rwandese refugees in Burundi had also been forced back to Rwanda; several had previously been subjected to human rights violations by the Burundian security forces. By the end of the year, several thousand returnees from Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi had been arrested in Rwanda on accusations of genocide. There were also reports of killings and "disappearances" of returnees. Many returnees experienced difficulties in recovering land and property which had been occupied by others during their exile. Members of human rights organizations, journalists and judicial officials who spoke out about human rights violations by government forces were subjected to intimidation, threats, arrests and other forms of harassment. Célestin Kayibanda, prosecutor of Butare, was arrested in May and accused of genocide and murder. Shortly before his arrest he had denounced interference in the judiciary by political and military officials. Fidèle Makombe, prosecutor of Kibuye, was beaten by RPA soldiers in May after protesting at interference by local authorities in the functioning of the judiciary and refusing to order arrests and imprisonment in the absence of sufficient evidence. Amiel Nkuriza, Director of the independent weekly newspaper Intego, was abducted in August by four men, one in military uniform and three in civilian clothes, in the centre of Kigali. He was held for one week and reportedly beaten and interrogated about articles in Intego, including one about his previous arrest in June. A soldier warned him that his life would be at risk if he wrote any further "subversive" articles. Appolos Hakizimana, a journalist on Intego, was arrested in July in Kigali, beaten by soldiers and detained for nearly three weeks. By the end of the year, more than 92,000 people were detained, many of them without charge and all without trial. Most were accused of participation in the genocide, but many were arrested on the basis of one person's denunciation or unsubstantiated evidence. The number of arrests rose to more than 4,000 a month in August and increased when refugees returned from neighbouring countries. Around 7,000 people were arrested in December. There were many arbitrary arrests. In November, a priest, Abbé Jean-François Kayiranga, was arrested in Kibuye on the basis of an unspecified accusation that he had participated in the genocide. Independent sources stated that Abbé Kayiranga was the only priest in his area who did not leave the country in 1994 and was commended by survivors of the genocide for his role in saving several people from the massacres. Some people were arrested because of the alleged role of their relatives during the genocide. Sylvère Kanani, a mechanic, was arrested in September, apparently because of the alleged actions of his father and brothers in 1994. He had been arrested twice in 1995, but released for lack of evidence. Soldiers sent to arrest him reportedly beat his nephew, François Iyakaremye, so severely that he died of his injuries. Sylvère Kanani was released at the end of November; he had been beaten and received death threats in detention. Ill-treatment of detainees was common immediately after arrest and in communal detention centres. Most prisoners were held in overcrowded conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. These conditions led to scores of deaths. Twenty-two detainees died at the communal detention centre at Kivumu, in Kibuye, in May. The authorities claimed that the deaths were caused by fighting among the detainees, but the detainees apparently died as a result of lack of air and extreme heat in the grossly overcrowded cells. Prison guards had refused to open the cell doors, although they heard detainees screaming for air and water. Sixteen detainees died in similar circumstances in an extremely overcrowded cell with little ventilation at Gitesi, in Kibuye, in late October. Progress was made in rebuilding the judicial system and many new judicial officials were appointed. However, most of them, including judges and magistrates, had only received up to six months' training. By the end of the year there were still only 16 defence lawyers. At the end of August, a new law was adopted on the organization of prosecutions for offences constituting the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity. The first trials of those accused of participation in the genocide took place in December. On 27 December, Deogratias Bizimana and Egide Gatanazi were tried in Kibungo on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. They had no access to a defence lawyer before or during their trial, were given only one day to study their case file and were not given the opportunity to summon witnesses for their defence or to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. They and thousands of others accused of these crimes were likely to face the death penalty. Half of the 22 suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda were in custody. Promises were made to the Tribunal that other suspects held by governments would be transferred to its custody. The first proceedings commenced in May. The first half of the year was marked by a sharp escalation in killings by members of the RPA and by armed opposition groups. More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed during the year. Several hundred people were shot dead by the RPA during "cordon and search" operations, mostly in the western regions. In April, eight civilians (three men, four women and one infant) were killed in Gisovu, Kibuye, after an RPA soldier was shot dead by an unknown assailant. According to the authorities, the victims died in a shoot-out between RPA soldiers and interahamwe, but witnesses stated that they were shot by soldiers who fired into a fleeing crowd. In July, an estimated 170 people – most of them civilians – were killed in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, during RPA searches for insurgents. One man said that his four sons, the youngest only 10 years old, had all been killed. Many of the victims were reportedly shot while trying to flee. RPA soldiers extrajudicially executed a number of local officials. In July, 18 local officials and their relatives and colleagues were assassinated in Rural Kigali: Vincent Munyandamutsa, mayor of Rushashi; Laurent Bwanacyeye, director of Rwankuba secondary school; and Floribert Habinshuti, assistant prosecutor in Rushashi. All the victims, except Vincent Munyandamutsa, were killed on their way back from an ordination ceremony. They were travelling in two separate cars when they were ambushed and shot dead. Independent local witnesses believed they were killed by soldiers. Vincent Munyandamutsa was stabbed to death as he returned home from a meeting. Witnesses reported that soldiers prevented them from intervening. Vincent Munyandamutsa had opposed human rights violations under the previous government, as well as under the current government. A pattern of killings of detainees by the security forces emerged during the year. Most occurred while detainees were held in communal detention centres before being transferred to central prisons. The single largest incident occurred in May, when at least 46 detainees were killed in an attack on the communal detention centre at Bugarama, Cyangugu. The detainees died from injuries caused by gunshots and grenades. The authorities blamed the killings on armed groups, who they said were trying to free the detainees. However, according to other reports, some of the detainees were shot by guards and others died when guards threw grenades in through cell windows. UN human rights observers and local human rights organizations reported that the detention centre building showed no sign of an attack from outside. Three RPA soldiers remained under sentence of death (see Amnesty International Report 1996). No executions were reported. In late September, RPA soldiers forcibly expelled nearly 400 refugees to Burundi's northwestern province of Cibitoke, an area characterized by a high level of killings by the Burundian security forces and armed opposition groups. Armed opposition groups continued to carry out deliberate and arbitrary killings of unarmed civilians, including children and infants, often in the context of cross-border incursions. Many of the victims were described as "genocide survivors" or "witnesses" – Tutsi who stayed in Rwanda during the genocide and were likely to have witnessed killings by the Hutu-dominated former army and militia during that period. In June, at least 13 civilians, including children, and one RPA soldier were killed in Kibuye. They included Séraphine Uwampinka and Callixte Kabandana. Survivors of the attack said that they recognized the voices of some of the assailants and identified them as their neighbours before the genocide. Also in June, 28 people, including several children, were killed and six injured in Gisenyi. Those who died were thought to have included Tutsi survivors of the 1994 genocide as well as Tutsi refugees who had lived in Zaire for several decades and had recently returned to Rwanda. The victims included Mukarusagara and her one-year-old baby. Throughout the year, Amnesty International appealed to the Rwandese authorities to ensure respect for human rights. In February, the organization published a report, Rwanda and Burundi: The return home – rumours and realities, which described the situation of the refugees from Rwanda and Burundi and the risks facing them if they were to return home. In April, Amnesty International sent an open letter to President Pasteur Bizimungu urging him to make human rights a priority, and appealing to the international community for help in reconstructing the judiciary and other institutions. In August, Amnesty International published Rwanda: Alarming resurgence of killings. When the crisis in eastern Zaire erupted in September, Amnesty International appealed to African heads of state to take measures to protect human rights in Rwanda and other countries in the region. Amnesty International also called for effective action to stop further arms supplies to the region. Amnesty International delegates visited Rwanda in May and November.

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