Rwanda touts rights record in Geneva, HRW begs to differ

Rwanda's Justice Minister Johnston Busingye says the Rwanda's political will has been instrumental in reforms

Rwanda’s Justice Minister Johnston Busingye says the Rwanda’s political will has been instrumental in reforms

The Rwandan delegation led by Rwanda’s justice minister Johnston Busingye has showcased the achievements made towards implementing human rights, with over 90 percent of the international recommendations met.

The team was in Geneva, Switzerland this Wednesday to present the steps taken in line with the Universal Periodic Review which is an obligatory session for all member states of the United Nations.

The Rwandan team, composed of the officials from the judiciary and the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) said that at least 63 of the 67 declarations had already been implemented since 2011.

The Rwandan representatives highlighted achievements like education for all, access to health services, empowering women, land laws, media freedom and free speech, and establishing a strong civil society.

Rwandans nonetheless, faced some tough questions regarding details of the listed items. The UN member states’ representatives hailed Rwanda’s strides.

Countries like Australia, Switzerland and Togo commended Rwandans for their political will and especially fighting gender based violence, and addressing illegal imprisonment of citizens contrary to the country’s laws.

Korea, one of Rwanda’s major development partners however, raised concerns of the high numbers of inmates and congestion in Rwandan jails, but Justice Busingye quickly refuted the claims saying that there has been a misrepresentation of facts on the ground.

The use of Information Technology-based justice system in Rwanda and the regulation of media freedom in Rwanda by establishing independent media regulatory organs and association, Rwanda managed to convince the Geneva team that it had made great improvements.

By May this year, Rwanda said it had managed to implement at least 55 of the 67 human rights resolves under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which the country committed to achieving by 2015.

The New-York-based Human Rights Watch 2015 World Report accuses Rwandan authorities of silencing opposition, trampling on media freedoms and arbitrary arrests, but Rwanda contends global rights watchdog has consistently tarnished the government’s image through biased and negative reports and denying the country the right of reply.