National watchdog slams HRW report

The National Human Rights Commission (NHCR) has dismissed a report recently published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in which the organisation claims that the government’s policy on land may lead to increased poverty amongst the population. Speaking to the press after meeting the rights body’s country representative, Carina Tertsakian, the commission’s chairperson, Zainab Kayitesi, said that on the contrary, the strategy which emphasizes land consolidation has enabled the population to realize high crop yields. 
Zainab Kayitesi
Zainab Kayitesi

The National Human Rights Commission (NHCR) has dismissed a report recently published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in which the organisation claims that the government’s policy on land may lead to increased poverty amongst the population.

Speaking to the press after meeting the rights body’s country representative, Carina Tertsakian, the commission’s chairperson, Zainab Kayitesi, said that on the contrary, the strategy which emphasizes land consolidation has enabled the population to realize high crop yields. 

“We informed her that the policy has instead led to increased food production and reduced poverty unlike before where everyone with a half a hectare or small pieces of land would plant whatever they wanted,” she said.

In the report, HRW suggests that the programmes leaves farmers at risk of food insecurity and may lead to increased poverty.

Kayitesi castigated the group for not having consulted with her commission before publishing the report.

“It’s always proper to consult us. We usually cooperate with both local and international human rights organizations and it is along those lines that they should have asked us to share information with them,” she added.

Commissioner Laurent Nkongoli criticized claims in the report that the new media law imposes restrictions on gathering and reporting information, and that it maintains defamation as a criminal offense.

“When it comes to rights, there are those that cannot be denied like the right to life. But there are others that are regulated by the law which requires that they be exercised lawfully without violating other people’s rights,” he said.

In her remarks, Tertsakian said that although there have been some challenges, the local judicial system Gacaca has dealt with tens of thousands of cases.

She compared the courts to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which she said has been slow in handling its trial cases.

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