The Government of Rwanda has requested the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to make public the alleged obstructions that they faced during their mission to Rwanda last week.
Last week, the United Nations – Human Rights Office High Commissioner said that SPT would visit Rwanda from 15 to 21 October to advise the authorities on the establishment of a national detention monitoring body officially known as the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM).
The establishment of this body is context of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) that Rwanda ratified in June 2015.
Last week, the ten person delegation of SPT suspended the mission on 5th day, and went into the media to report that there were “obstructions imposed by authorities, such as accessing some places of detention, confidentiality of certain interviews and over concerns that some interviewees could face reprisals.
In a communiqué this morning, the Minister of Justice and Government attorney Johnstone Busingye said; “By abruptly terminating the mission and turning to the media before discussion with the host government, the committee violated its own guidelines as well as the pre-agreed schedule of the visit.”
“Rwanda considers the termination an act of bad faith. Rwanda invited the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture for a regular monitoring mission. For five days, the committee conducted field visits to several institutions including prisons, police stations, transit centers, and a psychiatric hospital, interviewing staff, inmates, and patients,” Busingye further said.
“Any technical issues that arose during field visits were immediately resolved. Allegations of reprisals for anyone interviewed are baseless and inflammatory. While we will continue to uphold the Convention against Torture, we will consider our options in respect of the Optional Protocol.”
Busingye noted that the committee that was led by the Russian Arman Danielyan visited institutions across the country specifically chosen by the committee itself. These included Rilima and Muhanga Prisons; Nyamata, Kimihurura, and Nyamirambo Police Stations; Gikondo Transit Centre; Kami Rwanda Defence Forces 1st Division Headquarters; and Ndera Psychiatric Hospital.
The SPT also interviewed a cross-section of people chosen by the committee, including prisoners, detainees, psychiatric patients, soldiers, rehabilitation centre inmates, and staff at all places visited.