Govt accuses Human Rights Watch of ignoring MOU with Rwanda
The Government of Rwanda says it can affirm that there are no unofficial detention centres in the country â€“ in reaction to report released today by Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Rwanda says in a statement that HRW falsely names Gikondo Transit Centre in Kigali as a detention centre. The transit centre has and continues to play an important role in the rehabilitation of those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Commenting on the report, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, emphasised that all detention facilities in Rwanda are properly legislated and run in accordance with United Nations standards, and national laws that affirm those principles.
Minister Busingye further reiterated that the countryâ€™s recent history has involved a lot of trauma and family conflict: â€œVictims of such situations, even if they end up in crime or delinquency, are better off when offered another chance in life. The Government of Rwanda stands by its policy of rehabilitation rather than incarceration. This policy has worked in the past and will continue to do so into the future.â€
While HRW insists that Rwanda should charge drug addicts and other criminals with serious crimes that carry jail terms, the country has instead chosen to focus on rehabilitating and reintegrating them to offer the chance for a better life. This policy of rehabilitation over incarceration is one example of how Rwanda has found unique solutions to the challenges the country faces.
â€œGikondo is not a detention centre. It is a transit centre and people are held there for a short period before longer term remedial or corrective measures are taken. The later consists of rehabilitating and reintegrating former drug addicts and city dwellers â€“ through drug rehabilitation and learning a trade to prevent repetition â€“ and supporting them to reunite with their families,â€ Minister Busingye said.
Over 7,000 Rwandans have completed the transition programme and are now working in carpentry, masonry, welding, tailoring, and bee-keeping cooperatives â€“ improving their wellbeing for a brighter future.
The Government of Rwanda takes all allegations of human rights abuses seriously, however speculative they may be. Any information related to possible abuses is welcome and will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken. To facilitate this, the National Police has a toll free hotline which can be used anytime to report any abuses. The office of the Ombudsman and the National Commission for Human Rights also welcome any information on human rights violations so that they can be fully investigated.
It is unfortunate that Human Rights Watch has again chosen to deliberately mislead people with false statements that serve only to undermine Rwanda’s efforts to provide a better life for its citizens. HRW has a Memorandum of Understanding with Rwandaâ€™s Ministry of Justice through which human rights concerns can be raised and addressed by the institutions responsible. The Government of Rwanda encourages HRW to use this MoU to address any concerns it has in a constructive manner. However, it has become increasingly clear that HRW refuses to engage through the mechanisms established under the MoU and instead seeks to spread falsehood and speculation.
The Government of Rwanda invites Human Rights Watch to provide information on the alleged cases â€“ according to its report â€“ and any others so that they may be investigated and due process undertaken.