The Government of Rwanda has dismissed the latest report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which was released on Monday, accusing Rwanda of arbitrarily detaining over a dozen gay and transgender people, sex workers, street children, and others in the months before the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM), which was scheduled to take place in June 2021.
The Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Yolande Makolo says the new report, which claims that scores of people were rounded up and subjected to detention, is fabricated to malign the Rwandan Government and the country.
“Today’s @HRW report on Rwanda is a calculated attempt to harm a strategic sector of our economy with fabricated allegations. The sabotage won’t work as the allegations are not true,”
“Rwanda does not discriminate, in law, policy or practice, against sexual or gender orientation,” Makolo said, adding that it is not the first time HRW has fabricated allegations against Rwanda.
A case in point are claims of disappearances and “extrajudicial killings” which HRW published in a report titled “All Thieves must Be Killed” published on 13 July 2017, but the Rwanda National Human Rights Commission disproved it saying that an inquiry found ‘major errors’, including some of the people the watchdog were dead being found alive and well. The national commission said the inquiry raised serious concerns about the way HRW conducts its work.
The probe found that seven people, who HRW claimed had been executed, were found alive while for others who it said were killed, were found to have died of natural causes.
Fred Mufulukye, the Director General of the National Rehabilitation Service (NRS), which runs rehabilitation centres and receives people from transit centres from districts, said the allegations of torture and mistreatment are unfounded.
“That’s their usual propaganda. It is not surprising. One wonders if they have real informants or simply concoct stories from wherever they sit,” Mufulukye said, citing Lewis Mudge, the HRW Central Africa director, as an example of someone often accusing Rwanda of different things but has never set foot in Rwanda in recent years.
Mufulukye said that as far as he is concerned, NRS was not contacted as they claim.
“Human Rights Watch requested information on these allegations from the Justice Ministry and the National Rehabilitation Service but received no response and was not able to independently verify them,” the report reads.
Mufulukye also said that in the report they also seem to refer to Aime Bosenibamwe, who previously led NRS, but passed on in May 2020, who was also probably asked about events in 2019. This would mean that HRW relies on old and unfounded
The NRS DG said that the story of persecuting members of the LGBTQ community is one gay is a new and surprising accusation.
“We have done several inspections but no gay was taken there for being a gay, that’s a naked lie,” he added.