Posts Tagged ‘Rwanda’

International Women’s Day 2017: honoring, defending and watching women human rights defenders

March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day focuses on many different aspects of the struggle for the human rights of women. I have selected three special actions this year:

(1) a short piece honoring woman who are land rights defenders;

(2) a digital protection tool for women human rights defenders (Cyberwomen);

(3) a documentary film on how rape was made into a international war crime.

[Of course this blog has had many earlier posts on women human rights defenders: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/ ] Read the rest of this entry »

How awards can get it wrong: four controversial decisions in one week!

September 20, 2016

This blog regularly covers human rights awards [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/human-rights-awards/]. Most of the awards end up with the right people or – if needed – decisions get corrected [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/russian-protest-artist-pavlensky-stripped-of-havel-prize-over-support-for-violent-partisans/]. This week four controversial cases have come to the fore although they ‘fortunately’ concern more political kind of awards given to more political kind of people. Still instructive for those who consider giving awards: Read the rest of this entry »

“Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” – revealing piece by Alex de Waal

June 10, 2016

Alex de Waal {https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_de_Waal} published on 6 June 2016 a long piece entitled “Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” in the Boston Review. There is no way I can give you a summary but reading the whole article is certain worth the time. It is bound to be controversial – especially within the international human rights movement – and stands out by being critical and mostly self-critical about the role of human rights monitors. The focus of the narrative is on Africa (Sudan, Rwanda) and genocide but the former HRW staff reaches out to the general questions of context and impartiality that human rights defenders struggle with, still today.  READ IT!

Read the rest of this entry »

Laurent Munyandilikirwa paints a bleak picture of Rwanda’s human rights situation

March 18, 2016

During the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Rwanda at the UN Human Eights Council, Laurent Munyandilikirwa, former President of the Ligue Rwandaise pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’homme, delivered on 16 March 2016 a statement (on behalf of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project):.
Mr President, for the vast majority of my professional and personal life, I have proudly dedicated myself to protecting and promoting fundamental human rights in Rwanda.  As the former President of LIPRODHOR, one of Rwanda’s only independent human rights monitoring organisations, I had the great privilege of supporting my fellow citizens to secure and claim their rights.  However, despite the severe human rights deficits which continue to undermine Rwanda’s democratic consolidation, the important work LIPRODHOR and other human rights groups undertook in Rwanda is now largely untenable and fraught with danger.
Since Rwanda’s last UPR examination in 2011, the government has strengthened its long-term and systematic campaign to completely stifle freedom of association, by replacing the leadership of human rights organisations with those sympathetic to the government. As a result, there are now very few freely functioning and entirely independent human rights organisations left that can meaningfully challenge government policies and advocate for reforms, without well-founded fear of reprisals. In addition, since Rwanda’s last examination, independent civil society organisations, NGOs, and individual human rights defenders have continued to face escalating intimidation and reprisals in the course of their work. A number of defenders, including myself, have either been imprisoned or forced into exile. Increasingly, human rights defenders and the NGOs for which they work have been subjected to administrative harassment smear campaigns and public denouncement in pro-government media.
We therefore strongly urge the Government of Rwanda to take effective and meaningful steps to operationalize the important recommendations put forward during this examination in support of the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders.

This is line with e.g. Front Line Defenders’ report of 10 September 2015 about the Rwandan police disrupting the general assembly organised by LIPRODHOR  . [On 5 September 2015, Rwandan police officers disrupted a general assembly that had gathered several dozen members of the League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights in Rwanda. The purpose of the general assembly was to elect a new independent board of directors.[LIPRODHOR is one of the few human rights organisations in Rwanda, which has continuously endeavoured to hold the government accountable for a wide range of human rights abuses. After numerous human rights groups based in Rwanda were either co-opted or forced into silence, LIPRODHOR stood out as the sole Rwandan organisation committed to being independent. In 2004, the government targeted its leaders and accused them on fabricated charges of “propagating genocide ideology.” The outgoing members of the board of directors of LIPRODHOR have allegedly been acting on behalf of the government.  The general assembly which took place on 5 September 2015 had been convened by the outgoing board, whose term ended in July 2015, in order for a new board to be elected. During the assembly, participants elected three board members, namely the chair, the vice-chair and the secretary general. Following this, a number of participants, led by the chair of the outgoing board, reportedly stood up and caused a commotion as they claimed that the vote had been rigged. Soon after the incident, these participants reportedly called the police, who intervened and disrupted the assembly. A senior police officer informed the participants who had remained inside that he had to put an end to the meeting as it was “causing insecurity”. Members of the organisation have contacted the authorities about the incident, but, to date, no measures have been taken to assure the organisation’s rights to conduct its activities. It remains unclear whether LIPRODHOR’s members will be allowed to convene again and complete the election of the new board which will allow them to carry out their legitimate human rights work without restriction.  

In November 2014, several members of LIPRODHOR attempted to convene a similar assembly in order to address the ongoing problem. However, local authorities thwarted the initiative, informing them that the gathering would be deemed illegal. Thereafter, Messrs Evariste Nsabayezu and Daniel Uwimana, respectively LIPRODHOR’s vice chair and provincial representative at the time, were arrested and detained over allegations that they were involved in organising the assembly using what the police claimed were “falsified documents.” They were later released without trial. Several other members of LIPRODHOR were also reportedly threatened with arrest.]

 

Events in memory of Alison Des Forges at Buffalo University

April 19, 2015

Alison Des Forges (1942-2009) was a well-known human rights defender and one of the world’s leading experts on the Rwandan genocide. She was senior adviser of Human Rights Watch at the time of her death in the crash of Continental flight 3407. HRW named its human rights award after her [see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/alison-des-forges-award-extraordinary-activism]. Now the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Committee in her native Buffalo (NY) is organizing three events in Buffalo on 23 and 24 April 2015 with as focus “Islam, Islamism, and Human Rights in Africa”:
  • An international symposium on April 23 featuring talks by university researchers and representatives of human rights organizations working in Africa. This event is free and open to the public.
  • A scholarship dinner and discussion on April 23. [reservation is required, and tickets are $100 per person. Proceeds go to the Alison Des Forges Memorial Scholarships]
  • A community roundtable on April 24, where university researchers will reflect on the previous day’s symposium topics: “The Interplay of Politics, Religion, Terrorism, Modernity and Human Rights”.

In an effort to address issues of intense public concern, these events will explore in depth the recent rise of violent extremist groups in Africa,” said Dussourd, co-chair of the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Committee. “In so doing, we will go beyond sensational media headlines to the historical roots of this phenomenon as we examine groups such as Boko Haram, Seleka and Al-Shabaab.”

For information about the events contact Ellen Dussourd  dussourd@buffalo.edu)

Events in memory of Alison Des Forges will focus on Islam and human rights in Africa – University at Buffalo.

Adama Dieng speaks on prevention of mass atrocity on 10 October

October 3, 2014

Prevention of mass atrocity crimes:Achievements, current trends and challenges” is the topic on which Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide ( former Registrar of the Rwanda Tribunal and former Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists) will speak on Friday, 10 October 2014, from 10h30 to 11h45, in Bundesgasse 28, Room BGA 12, Bern, Switzerland.

There are only a limited number of seats available, so please book your seat by e-mail to nathan.broquet[at]eda.admin.ch before Wednesday 8 October 2014.

‘Rights up Front’ presented by Jan Eliason: “It is irrefutable that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of atrocities”

December 26, 2013

(Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Still haunted by its failure to forestall genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica nearly 20 years ago and confronted by ongoing bloodshed in Syria and the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations is revamping its preventive strategies under a new initiative called ‘Rights up Front.’ “The need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations, is at the heart of theRights up Front’ initiative,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told an informal session of the General Assembly on 17 December 2013 – as he presented a six-point action plan.

It includes training UN staff on the world body’s core purpose of promoting respect for human rights; providing Member States with the information needed to respond to human rights violations; and ensuring that UN personnel around the world are more attuned to situations where there is a risk of serious human rights abuses and are equipped for the responsibilities that such potential crises entail.

The strategy, initiated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also includes achieving a more coherence by strengthening engagement with the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and providing earlier and more coherent support to teams on the ground before a crisis emerges; and better organization of human rights staff so that they can identify risks of serious violations of human rights that could lead to atrocities.

Finally, underpinning all these activities will be better information management on threats and risks to populations for planning operational activities and for sharing with Member States.

“. ..It is irrefutable, and needs repeating, that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of impending atrocities.” Eliasson said. “If we fail to act early, the human, political and economic costs can be devastating as we know far too well. This calls for a more alert, flexible and coordinated UN System, both on the ground and at headquarters.”

Horrendous events led us all to say ‘never again’, Mr. Eliasson said. “We said we would have to do more to prevent serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Despite much effort, since 1995 hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of mass atrocities and tens of millions have been displaced.” But steps forward have been taken. “World leaders endorsed the ‘responsibility to protect in 2005. And Member States have over the years articulated an increasingly detailed agenda for the protection of civilians,” he said. Yet, the crises in Syria, where over 100,000 people have now been killed and 8 million driven from their homes in the nearly three-year civil war, and in CAR, where thousands have been killed and over 600,000 displaced in a conflict increasingly marked by inter-communal clashes between Christians and Muslims, are reminders that serious human rights abuses are often the clearest early warning of emerging conflict, he added.

“When people in today’s world are at risk or subject to serious violations, they expect and request the United Nations to act – and we do,” Mr. Eliasson declared. “However, in practice, our response to crisis often comes when a situation has deteriorated to the point where only a substantial political or peacekeeping mission can deal with the problems.”

via United Nations News Centre – New UN ‘Rights up Front’ strategy seeks to prevent genocide, human rights abuses.

 

Situation of human rights defenders in Africa – overview by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

November 6, 2013

The OMCT and the FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, made an intervention under agenda item 9: “Situation of human rights defenders” at the at the 54th session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights [ACHPR] on 5 November.logo FIDH_seulOMCT-LOGO

Human rights defenders were attacked, received threats or were slandered in the DRCSenegal and Tunisia. In some cases they were even killed, as in the DRC and in Cameroonin a climate of impunity. Defenders, and in particular defenders of economic, social and cultural rights, also continued to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment in AngolaCameroon, the DRCEgyptMauritania and Tunisia. Obstacles to freedom of association were also recorded, as for instance in AngolaEgypt and Rwanda. A summary is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Takeover of human rights NGO: a weapon in the arsenal of Rwanda’s Government

August 22, 2013

Repressive governments are using different and increasingly ‘indirect’ means to silence human rights defenders.  Intimidation, administrative restrictions, fiscal regulations aimed at reducing funding, terminating rental agreements,  judicial harassment, etc.  According to a report by Human Rights Watch of 14 August 2013, Rwanda is practicing a slightly different tactic: wholesale infiltration and ‘take over’ of independent NGOs.HRW_logo

Read the rest of this entry »