Tag Archives: torture

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Calls for Paul Rusesabagina’s Immediate Release

Opinion finds numerous human rights violations by the government of Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina, international humanitarian

Paul Rusesabagina, international humanitarian
WASHINGTON – March 29, 2022 – PRLog —

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), an arm of the UN’s Human Rights Council, has released an advance version of its opinion on Rwanda’s kidnapping and detention of Hotel Rwanda humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina. UNWGAD found that the deprivation of liberty of Paul Rusesabagina amounts to arbitrary and enforced detention, which is illegal under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“Universal Declaration”) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“Covenant”). The Working Group requests that the government of Rwanda take all necessary steps to remedy the situation. (Link to opinion at end of press release)

According to the opinion, given the circumstances of the case the appropriate remedy under international law is for Rwanda to immediately “take urgent action to ensure the immediate unconditional release of Mr. Rusesabagina.” In addition, UNWGAD members found that Rwanda should “accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.

The key findings of the UNWGAD include:

  • The kidnapping of Mr. Rusesabagina, which began in the United States and culminated in him boarding a flight from Dubai to Kigali, was set up by the Rwandan government to take him against his will to Rwanda. This constitutes an abduction and his subsequent detention is therefore arbitrary and illegal.
  • The circumstances of Mr. Rusesabagina’s abduction and subsequent treatment on arrival in Kigali, including incommunicado detention, being detained in secret, and no acknowledgement of his arrest, amount to a deprivation of liberty analogous to an enforced disappearance, and mean that Paul’s arrest has no legal basis and is therefore arbitrary.
  • Mr. Rusesabagina’s treatment by the Rwandan government resulted from his free expression of his political views and criticisms of that government. Thus his treatment constitutes an illegal violation of his right to freedom of expression.
  • Violations of Mr. Rusesabagina’s physical and mental health during his illegal detention should be referred to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for appropriate action.
  • Given all of the above, the criminal case against him in Rwanda should never have gone to trial and should have been dismissed. That being the case, when it went to trial Mr. Rusesabagina’s due process and fair trial rights were continually violated throughout the trial process.
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Rwanda Needs to Take Torture Seriously

 

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On December 6, the UN Committee Against Torture released its concluding observations after a routine review of the situation in Rwanda. During the review, committee members raised concerns about serious violations – including torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders and opposition party members – and asked numerous, precise questions about the Rwandan government’s actions.

The Rwandan government’s response was to deny, deny, deny. On illegal detention and abuse in military camps, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the government wrote in its final submission to the committee that, “we want to repeat and insist that there are no unofficial or secret places of detention in Rwanda.”

In October, Human Rights Watch issued a report documenting abuses in military camps around Kigali, the capital, and in the northwest. For at least the last seven years, Rwanda’s military has frequently detained and tortured people, beating them, asphyxiating them, using electric shocks and staging mock executions. Most of the detainees were disappeared and held incommunicado, meaning they had no contact with family, friends, or legal counsel. Many were held for months on end in deplorable conditions. We continue to receive information about new abuses.

Many of those tortured were forced to confess to crimes against state security and later transferred to official detention centers. Instead of keeping quiet, scores of victims dared to speak up at their trials. When the committee asked the Rwandan government why judges did not investigate when defendants said in the courtroom that they had been tortured – which the government is required to do under the Convention against Torture – the government simply presented a table in its report asserting that no one alleged they were tortured in trials from 2013 to 2017.

This stands in stark contrast to the facts. From 2011 to 2016, we documented65 cases in which individuals said in court said they were illegally held in military camps or unlawful safe houses. Of those cases, 36 said they were either tortured, beaten or otherwise forced to confess to crimes they did not commit. These were statements either made publicly in court during trials we monitored or are reflected in official court judgments.

In response to allegations, including by Human Rights Watch, about torture in Kami, a military base outside Kigali, the government wrote in its final report that it needed, “clarifications of these allegations… because the people who alleges [sic] to have been tortured… in The Kami Military Camp are unknown. Those reports did not provide names of victims and suspects; therefore, no investigations were conducted.” To Johnston Busingye, the justice minister who headed the Rwandan delegation at the committee, I say: please see Appendix I, pages 92-98 of our last report.

We provided the case numbers and the identity of those who dared to speak up in court. It is not difficult to confirm. That the government would simply say these people never spoke is the final act of torture. It denies them their right to tell the truth about what happened.

The government maintains it has no political prisoners. The government also says any case of enforced disappearance is investigated. Here again, recent facts tell a different story. Take the case of Théophile Ntirutwa, Kigali representative of the Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi, a banned opposition party. Ntirutwa was forcibly disappeared on September 6, after the arrest of several other FDU members the same day, and held incommunicado until September 23. During this period, the police would not confirm to Human Rights Watch or his family whether he was in custody.

He has now been charged with supporting an armed group. On November 21, during a hearing, Ntirutwa said in court, “I was disappeared for 17 days… My family was not informed of where I was, nor were human rights organizations. My wife told the police I had been disappeared. All that time I was blindfolded and handcuffed before it was revealed I was at [a] police station.”

These were words said in a public courtroom. The government should follow through on its obligations, open an investigation, and hold those responsible for this enforced disappearance accountable. But if recent history is any indication, chances are nothing will happen. Ntirutwa had previously been detained on September 18, 2016, allegedly by the military, in Nyarutarama, a Kigali suburb. He said he was beaten and questioned about his membership in the FDU-Inkingi, then released two days later. Accounts of this detention were published, but the government did not investigate.

The committee wrote its final report that it is “seriously concerned” both about Rwanda’s failure to investigate allegations of torture and its “failure to clarify whether or not it opened an investigation into the allegations of unlawful and incommunicado detention.”

The committee’s concluding observations are cause for concern about the situation in Rwanda. While technically Rwanda has made advances in its legislation, in reality it does not seem to take seriously the absolute prohibition on torture. Rwanda is bound by both national law and international treaty obligations to act on allegations of torture and enforced disappearances, and to take steps to prevent such abuses. Instead of denying these abuses exist, it should demonstrate that it is ready to meet those obligations.

Ida Sawyer

Director Human Rights Watch, East Africa

Source: Human Rights Watch

Rwandan civilians tortured into making false confessions, says Amnesty

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Apart from the recent economic Growth, Rwanda’s Kagame has also been the champion of Violation of Human Rights.

Scores of civilians in Rwanda have allegedly been tortured into making false confessions after being detained illegally without charge or trial, an investigation by Amnesty International has found.

Former detainees claimed they were subjected to electric shocks, severe beatings and sensory deprivation while being held at a military camp and a secret network of safe houses in the capital, Kigali, according to Amnesty.

The report is the latest blow to the Rwandan president Paul Kagame‘s battered reputation following allegations of persecuting opponents, gagging media and arming rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. International donors have partially suspended aid but Britain in particular is under mounting pressure to go further.

Amnesty’s report, Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy, Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence, asserts a pattern of unlawful detention, enforced disappearances and allegations of torture carried out by operatives from a military intelligence unit known as J2.

Most of the detainees were rounded up by the military from March 2010 onwards after a series of deadly grenade attacks in Kigali and in the runup to the August 2010 presidential election, which Kagame won with 93% after two of his main challengers were jailed.

Three former detainees from the military Camp Kami told Amnesty they were subjected to electric shocks during interrogations by J2 operatives. “I was taken to another office,” one recalled. “Everyone was there when they put this electric thing on my back and forced me to accept that I worked with the people throwing the grenades . When I got to the point of dying, I told them to bring me a piece of paper [to sign], but they continued to torture me.”

Another told Amnesty’s researchers: “There are other rooms where they put you and you lose your memory. They ask you a question and when you find yourself again they ask you a question. When you return to normal, they sting you. The electric thing they use is like a pen and they put it under your arms. It is like charcoal. When they sting you, all your body is electrolysed and the entire body is paralysed.”

Amnesty said it had received three independent reports that some detainees at Camp Kami had bags placed over their heads during interrogations to restrict their breathing. Former prisoners said they had items placed in their mouth to heighten pain and stop them screaming while they were beaten during interrogations.

Detention periods ranged from 10 days to nine months without access to lawyers, doctors or family members, Amnesty said. Many of these detainees were later charged with threatening national security. Two individuals – Robert Ndengeye Urayeneza and Sheikh Iddy Abbasi – are still missing since their disappearance in March 2010, the NGO added.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s acting deputy Africa director, said: “The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinised, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy. Donors funding military training must suspend financial support to security forces involved in human rights violations.”

Amnesty said it had conducted more than 70 interviews and documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment at Camp Kami, Mukamira military camp and in safe houses in Kigali.

Rwandan officials dismissed the findings. Alphonse Hitiyaremye, the country’s deputy prosecutor general, told Amnesty: “There is no torture in our country and we can’t investigate on a false allegation.”

Tito Rutaremara, a senator who has worked with Kagame for 25 years, told the Guardian: “Let Amnesty come and show us these ‘safe houses’. If they know all this, let them come and say it is here. Bring these witnesses.”

Louise Mushikiwabo, the foreign affairs minister, posted on Twitter: “Rwanda will act on all credible claims of torture but won’t engage in a shouting match w/ another NGO seeking headlines at Rwanda’s expense.”

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/08/rwandan-civilians-claim-torture?guni=Article:in%20body%20link