The Government of Rwanda has supported and accepted a total of 160 recommendations, representing 56.34% of all received recommendations wrapped in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The UPR report consists of details of the implementation of human rights recommendations suggested by United Nations member states and the United Nations Human Rights Council. It (UPR) is also a mechanism that evaluates human rights situations in all 193 member-states of the United Nations every four to five years.
On Saturday 9, Rwanda accepted 160 recommendations that are among a total of 284 that was formulated by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the January 2021 UPR review.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the UPR recommendations review acceptance rate has increased by 34.51% compared with 2015 when UPR recommendations were reviewed and accepted at the rate of 21.83%.
“I am honoured to participate in this important session leading to the conclusion of the third cycle of Rwanda’s Universal Periodic Review. It is indeed a great privilege to represent the Republic of Rwanda at this session and reiterate Rwanda’s firm commitment in the protection and respect of human rights,” Amb. Marie Chantal Rwakazina, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva said on Saturday 9.
“The Government of Rwanda has thoroughly reviewed all the 284 recommendations formulated during the January UPR review. The Government supported and accepted a total of 160 recommendations,” Amb. Rwakazina said.
“In addition to the above, 75 other recommendations were noted as they are considered to already be part of ongoing government interventions and they will still be implemented. Further, let me note that the few recommendations (49) which were deferred during the review, after examination and reflection, did not enjoy our support and we will not consider them further,” she added.
Amb. Rwakazina said that Rwanda’s reasons for not accepting some recommendations are that some were found to be either unrealistic, not reflecting the reality on the ground, repeating unfounded allegations, irrelevant, or based on wrong information.
In October last year, Rwanda submitted a UPR report for evaluation by the United Nation member states in Geneva, Switzerland following member states suggesting 50 recommendations to improve several human rights areas including freedom of expression, legal reforms, independence of the judiciary, and social, economic, and people’s welfare in 2015.
In January 2021, the UPR report was submitted, after five years of the government working to implement recommendations suggested by UN members in February 2015.
Rwanda has been reviewed three times, since 2011.
“The successful implementation depends on the nature of each recommendation; the recommendations regarding social, economic and welfare are hard to implement fully because of the budget, these were implemented at the rate of 95%,” said Providence Umurungi, Head of International Justice and Judicial Cooperation Department at Ministry of Justice in January this year.
“But other recommendations including amending the law or removing it, this has been done successfully at 100%,” she said.
As part of the implementation of the recommendations for 2015, the government launched the Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) to improve the rule of law on April 18, 2018. In the same month, The Rwanda National Police officially handed over functions of the defunct Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the newly created RIB.
Since its inception, RIB is an autonomous specialized body established by law Nº12/2017 of 07/04/2017 and responsible for performing career investigative functions, gather evidence, and assists local law enforcement agencies in ensuring law and order.
In December 2017, Rwanda revised the penal code, making a relief for journalists from general defamation which was a criminal offense attracting a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to Rwf 5 million.
The revised law provided that general defamation could be reported to the Rwanda Media Commission – the journalists’ self-regulatory body, removing it in the penal code.
Other implementations included establishing a national preventive mechanism, the body against the torture of prisoners. The new prison was built and others rehabilitated to stop overcrowding of prisoners, among other implementations.
Rwanda designated National Commission for Human Rights as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to comply with the Optional Protocol on Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The purpose of the OPCAT was to assist states to implement their existing obligations under the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) to prohibit and prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.