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The East African : Nov 7th 2015
10 CONCERNS BEING ADDRESSED Rwanda taken to task over rights Unive≥sal Pe≥iodic Review ≥epo≥t shows that othe≥ membe≥ states a≥e conce≥ned about ≥epo≥ts of human-≥ights violations By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE Special Correspondent R wanda’s human-rights record is once again under debate after a United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report, released at the ongoing session in Geneva, cited restrictions on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. The session runs until November 13. The Geneva-based watchdog ex- pressed concern about reports of surveillance, harassment, and delays in registration of human-rights organisations in the country. The report acknowledges the progress Kigali has made in combating trafficking in persons and preventing violence against women. The Rwandan delegation, led by the country’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye, said the government has undertaken reforms and is committed to addressing the concerns raised. “When we comply with these human-rights standards and recommendations, it is not because someone is watching us, or because in four years we will come here to be held to account. It’s because we want to be accountable to our people,” he said. The UPR, which was set up in 2008, examines each UN member’s human-rights record. Countries are reviewed every four and a half years. Rwanda was reviewed for the first time in January 2011. According to the report, Rwanda accepted 67 out of 73 recommendations from the 2011 UPR. The UPR team expressed concern about reports that Burundian refugees in Rwanda have been recruited into armed groups. They called on the government to investigate the reports and ensure that the refugee camps are civilian. “We recommend that Rwanda conduct a thorough, transparent investigation into reports of missing persons related to the extensive 2014 security operation, holding accountable the individuals responsible,” said Eric Richardson, deputy political counsellor US mission based in Geneva during the 23rd Session of the HRC Universal Periodic Review held on November 4. Kigali has yet to account for the whereabouts of people reported missing during an operation in 2014 conducted by Rwandan security forces. Rwanda has denied the allega- tions, describing them as baseless. The UPR team also urged the Rwandan government to implement the June 2014 recommendations of the special rapporteur to allow for peaceful political opposition, and for civil society and journalists to register and participate in civic life freely. While the government has dis- missed some of the allegations, it maintains that it has embarked on reforms since 2011, paving the way for political space, media freedom and civil society promotion. Luxemburg told the Rwandan delegation that it is concerned about persistent regional inequalities and discrimination that hinder equal enjoyment of economic and social rights of vulnerable persons in Rwanda. Hungary, Mexico and Kenya rec- ommended that Rwanda strengthen the independence of its justice system and refrain from political interference in the judicial processes. “Despite legal and administra- tive reforms, unfair trials are still reported in a number of politically Journalists in Rwanda. The country’s media is self-regulating. Picture: File HISTORICAL CONTEXT At the UPR session, Rwanda’s Justice Minister Johnston Busingye cautioned participants to be mindful of Rwanda’s past, which guides the country’s context. “We have had a history with the media. We don’t sweep it under the carpet and just continue. In 1994, two newspapers and two radio stations participated in genocide sensitive judicial cases,” Hungary’s representative said, adding that his country is concerned that human rights defenders in Rwanda continue to face harassment, intimidation, and reprisals in the course and as a consequence of their work. Similar recommendations were echoed by Italy, which urged Rwanda to investigate allegations of torture during interrogations in some detention facilities by the police and security forces. Member states also urged Rwanda to ratify the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. using their platforms as a form of media freedom of expression. We continue to be cautious because the line can be crossed easily,” he said. Anastase Shyaka, the director of the Centre for Conflict Management, said Rwanda had implemented various reforms, especially by adopting self regulation for the media sector. In addition, they expressed con- cern about the country not having ratified the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. Mr Busingye said the country has not ratified the Rome Statute due to concerns over the Hague-based court’s independence and impartiality. “We encourage the court to be- come more colour-blind and regionblind. Otherwise the parliament of Rwanda will find it difficult to support a judicial organ whose practices we have difficulties explaining,” he said. The EastAfrican NEWS NOVEMBER 7-13,2015 G≥eens conside≥ giving up By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE Special Correspondent RWANDA’S MAIN opposition party says it is considering quitting politics after it failed to stop the amendment of the Constitution to remove presidential term limits. This comes as the Senate ap- proved the draft constitutional amendment that was recently debated and voted in by the Chamber of Deputies. Subject to a referendum, Presi- dent Paul Kagame could have the freedom to rule until 2034. The Green Party says its politi- cal agenda is being undermined by the ongoing amendments. “We had earlier planned to run for the presidency, but now the plans are on hold. Approving these amendments is going to lock us out of the political arena,” Jean Claude Ntezimana, the party general secretary, told The EastAfrican. The party had said it was con- sidering other legal means to halt the amendment of the country’s Constitution after the Supreme Court dismissed its case challenging the change of laws. These would include making an appeal to President Kagame not to increase presidential term limits. It had also said it would peti- tion the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, as well as the East African Court of Justice. The Green Party also consid- ered conducting a “No Change” campaign nationwide to sensitise Rwandans not to vote for the change. Although party officials claimed victory regarding the amendment of Article 101 which reduced term durations from seven to five years, they rejected the introduction of Article 172 in the draft constitution. The article allows President Kagame to continue to serve the term for which he was elected and an additional seven-year term. Delays in elect≥icity impo≥tation f≥om Kenya wo≥≥y Kigali By KABONA ESIARA The EastAfrican RWANDA’S PLANNED importation of electricity from Kenya has been delayed as the high voltage transmission lines and substations from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are not yet ready. The delayed power importation has thrown Kigali authorities into a dilemma as manufacturers demand affordable, reliable power. Kigali has called for tenders from inde- pendent power producers to set up a thermal power plant, which should be delivered by February next year. Switching on another heavy fuel plant will mean that power tariffs will remain high, adding to the cost of doing business. Currently the government spends more than $40 Power transmission line from Kenya to Rwanda. Picture: File million annually on subsidising power . Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure James Musoni said the country will have to wait until April 2016 for the power to be imported, due to the delayed upgrade of infrastructure. Under the Northern Corridor infrastructure projects covering Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan, the three countries agreed to trade power. Uganda has committed to export 50MW to Rwanda and Kenya agreed to export 30MW; 400MW is to come from Ethiopia. The regional electricity power exchange line from Olkaria in Kenya to Birembo in Southern Province, through Uganda, has the capacity to transport 400KV. “But the electricity interconnection lines we have with Uganda can only transmit 2MW,” said Mr Musoni during a two-day iPAD Rwanda Power and Infrastructure Investment forum in Kigali. Out of the three Northern Corridor coun- tries, Rwanda is at an advanced stage of completing its infrastructure projects, with at least 75 per cent of the works on power stations complete. The delays in completing the regional in- terconnectivity infrastructure in Rwanda has been blamed on lack of capacity by the contractor hired to build the substations. In order to win the multimillion-dollar project in Rwanda and the Democratic Re- public of Congo, the contractor underquoted the finances required and cannot complete the work. Rwanda began loadshedding in June, which worsened in August as water levels at the hydropower generation stations fell. Public utility company Rwanda Energy Group said the old transmission lines are also contributing to the low electricity supply in the country. Rwanda’s installed power generation ca- pacity stands at 161.2MW, against a target of 563MW by 2018. The country is also targeting increasing access to electricity from the current 24 per cent to more than 70 per cent of the population. At least $3 billion is required for generation and transmission in order for Rwanda to achieve this target. The private sector is expected to invest about $1.3 billion to increase generation capacity.
Oct 31st 2015
Nov 14th 2015