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The East African : January 27th 2014
The EastAfrican NEWS JANUARY 25-31,2014 HUMAN RIGHTS TRACK RECORD Rwanda on the spot over activist’s killing Rights g≥oup says it is conce≥ned at the distu≥bing silence on the mu≥de≥ of Gustave Makonene By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT The East African ist six months ago is back in the news after Human Rights Watch (HRW) asked the government to complete investigations and resolve the mystery. In two separate despatch- T es, the New York-based rights group says it is concerned at the “disturbing silence” prevailing in Rwanda on the murder of Gustave Makonene, an anti-corruption activist who was working with Transparency International, as well as the lack of progress in the investigations to find those responsible. Mr Makonene, who was murdered in July last year in the Western Province town of Rubavu, was a local co-ordinator for the international graft watchdog whose work included documenting allegations of police corruption in the border town. Daniel Bekele, the HRW director for Africa, said early this week that the rights group learnt that the four arrests made after the murder came to nothing because the suspects were released for lack of evidence, and the case has since stalled. “In most other countries, the unresolved murder of an anti-corruption campaigner he murder of a Rwandan anti-corruption activ- would have made the headlines, and independent groups would be clamouring for justice. Instead, it seems everyone is just hoping the issue will go away. This sends a chilling message to those campaigning for accountability in Rwanda,” Mr Bekele said. However, Rwanda’s Pros- ecution spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda said the case has not stalled, and the file has not been closed. “It is not true (that the case has stalled). Investigations are still ongoing. There haven’t been any fresh arrests but the case has not been abandoned. Prosecution is doing whatever is within its means to find the people behind the gruesome act,” he told The EastAfrican. He added: “At the moment, it may appear that nothing is going on but we are still investigating. They should be patient.” The chairperson of Trans- parency International Rwanda Chapter Marie Immaculee Ingabire also voiced concern about the pending investigations, and asked the police to intensify investigations. “We are extremely con- cerned that the killers are likely to get away with their act. What is clear is that those who murdered him planned their act very well and covered their tracks. Po- KEY GRIEVANCES ‘DISTURBING SILENCE’. On the murder of Gustave Makonene, an anticorruption activist who was working with Transparency International, as well as the lack of progress in the investigations. HANDLING OF HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. The group accuses the government of interfering with the leadership of the League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, Liprodhor. “There is a need for further opening of the political space.” Frank Habineza, Green Party lice should continue to investigate further,” Ms Ingabire said. The rights group has also taken the government to task over its handling of human rights issues. In its annual report, the group accuses the government of interfering with the leadership of one of the last remaining independent human-rights organisations — the League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, Liprodhor, which was taken over by pro-government elements last year. “Government officials were openly hostile toward independent non-governmental organisations working on human rights. The pro-gov- 17 Jailed opposition politician Victoire Ingabire walks out of the Suppreme Court. Picture: File ernment media echoed these views with public attacks on international human-rights organisations and other perceived critics,” said HRW’s Carina Tertsakian. The group said that in August last year Liprodhor, which it notes used to be a vibrant NGO, was taken over by members believed to be sympathetic to government, weakening its ability to effectively hold the government to account. On July 21, the members ousted the organisation’s leaders and voted in a new board, violating the organisation’s internal statutes and Rwandan legislation governing NGOs. Three days later, the Rwanda Governance Board — the state body with oversight of national NGOs — recognised the new board. Liprodhor, through its ousted president, has taken the case to court. The rights group also ac- cuses the government of becoming increasingly intolerant of opposing voices. It cites last year’s parliamentary polls, which the party won with little opposition, as an example of the ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front dominating the political scene. The rights group also ex- pressed concerns at the plight of two opposition politicians, Victoire Ingabire of the FDUInkingi and Bernard Ntaganda of the PS-Imberakuri, who are jailed on charges of genocide ideology and inciting the masses against the government. While Kigali is yet to give an official response to the allegations in the report, an official from the National Human Rights Commission said that it is important to note that despite the allegations, HRW has now recognised that the country was making progress in different aspects. “We also think that HRW is right in asking for further investigations into the murder of the Transparency International employee. Everyone should be concerned that the case is not progressing. An anti-corruption activist is an easy target,” Laurent Nkongori, a commissioner in the National Commission for Human Rights told The EastAfrican. South Sudan c≥isis has ≥olled back many gains Turn from page 12 ers from Uganda and Kenya. Few opportunities are be- ing created. The country depends almost entirely on oil for its revenues; out of the 17.3 billion SSP it plans to spend in the current financial year, 10.6 billion is expected to come from oil revenues and only 1.5 billion from non-oil sources. The rest will come from loans and grants. Yet half the country’s budget will be spent on the army and security agencies this year. This is probably acknowledgment of the country’s precarious security situation and government officials point out that it is less than the 57 per cent spent last financial year but it delays the Independence dividend for many people in South Sudan. Only 130 million SSP is earmarked for agriculture and jobs creation, less than half of what will be handed over to members of parliament for pork-barrel projects under the constituency development fund. Critics say the government has not built a single school since coming to power in 2011 and has only rehabilitated existing health facilities. Government officials say many schools have been built in partnership with development partners and that social services are improving slowly but steadily. The current crisis will roll back many of those gains. Although it did not start as an ethnic contest, the protagonists quickly fell back into their tribal enclaves for safety and support. Almost everyone has an anecdote drenched in blood. At a UN camp teeming with internally displaced people on the outskirts of Juba, 21-year-old Moses said he watched as soldiers in SPLA uniforms shot and killed his friends in cold blood. In another camp on the other side of Juba, an Eritrean recently arrived from 2011 Critics say the govt has not built a single school since coming into power in 2011 Bor said they had gone to a water point with his Dinka neighbours when armed men ambushed them. “They told us the foreign- ers to step aside and told the Dinka to stand to the other side. Then they shot them one by one in the head.” At the Sheraton Addis Aba- ba Hotel where a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed this week, a senior military officer who is part of the rebel delegation shows a picture of his dead brother on his mobile phone. Pro-Kiir officials in Juba insist that the fighting broke out after forces loyal to Machar tried to carry out a coup. Col Aguer said the coordinated nature of the fighting points to a planned rather than spontaneous uprising. Pro-Machar officials have a different version. They say fighting broke out after an attempt to disarm Nuer fighters within the presidential guard before a speciallytrained section of the guard went around the city killing Nuer. They claim that word of the targeted killings went around sparking revenge killings by the Nuer on the Dinka. Who is telling the truth? It is hard to tell which version of the story is correct. United States government officials have said they have found no evidence of an attempted coup and an NGO worker who has spent 11 years in Sudan points out that the pro-Machar officials arrested after the shooting broke out are all politicians, not military officers. Both sides have tried to present a national outlook by sending delegations of both Nuer and Dinka to the Addis peace talks. The opposition around Machar in the months before the outbreak of violence was political and multi-ethnic. Now the ethnic genie has been let out of the bottle. And it is armed and bloodthirsty. Rebuilding South Sudan will take a lot more than a military victory by one side. Neither will a negotiated solution between the elites from both ethnic groups be sufficient. The people of South Sudan spent three decades dying to have their own country. It will take a lot more time for them to build a country they are willing to die for.
January 20th 2014
February 3rd 2014