Rwanda's progress is evident

Xan Rice's Guardian article on 19 July titled "Rwanda's Commonwealth hopes dented by human rights criticism" referred to a report that had yet to be published, but it is expected that when the report is eventually distributed to those concerned, they remain objective and assess Rwanda's accession to the commonwealth on the merit of the progress achieved since 1994, and dismiss any ill-informed judgements as reported by the article about the reality of Rwanda today.
Gatete
Gatete

Xan Rice's Guardian article on 19 July titled "Rwanda's Commonwealth hopes dented by human rights criticism" referred to a report that had yet to be published, but it is expected that when the report is eventually distributed to those concerned, they remain objective and assess Rwanda's accession to the commonwealth on the merit of the progress achieved since 1994, and dismiss any ill-informed judgements as reported by the article about the reality of Rwanda today.

Few people would deny the progress that Rwanda has achieved since 1994. The successful implementation of the Gacaca community courts, which have dealt with over 1.5 million cases of genocide crimes, and the enactment of legislation to prevent the spread of Genocide ideology (akin to the UK's laws against incitement of hatred), are among some of the important steps taken to bring about justice and reconciliation as well as ensure that Rwanda remains stable and safe.

Those who criticise these actions offer no alternatives and seem to forget that they have ensured more human rights to ordinary citizens than if they did not exist.

Although much has been achieved, Rwanda realises that there is more work to be done. But this does not mean that certain accusations are true, such as claims of "harassment of independent journalists".

A casual scan of the 40 or so local Kinyarwanda independent papers will reveal that they have complete press freedom, and publish whatever they want.

Similarly, foreign correspondents and visiting journalists covering Rwanda continue to do so un-hindered everyday - and we have not received any official complaints to the contrary.

The truth is that the media in Rwanda, like many other sectors, is young but growing, and it is therefore wrong to confuse lack of capacity with lack of press freedom.

The Government of Rwanda is committed to the development of free, vibrant and responsible media capable of contributing to the overall advancement of the country.

Closer ties with countries possessing strong journalism traditions is in fact one of the many benefits Rwanda envisions in joining the Commonwealth.

In addition, numerous recent reports about the alarming violence carried out against the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the remnants of the genocidal forces (FDLR) that committed Genocide in Rwanda is a result of the inability of the international community to resolve this deadly threat.

Joint Rwanda/DRC operations against these forces earlier this year demonstrated what could be achieved by countries in the region working together.

More importantly, great strides are being made every day in the normalisation of diplomatic and development-based collaboration between Rwanda and the DRC and the encouragement of the Commonwealth in this process would add value.

The progress Rwanda has made in the areas of justice, media development, and regional peace and collaboration cannot be ignored or diminished as it goes hand in hand with the advancements recorded in other important areas of national life including social development, women's participation, democratisation, building institutions and the fight against corruption.

Rwanda's continued efforts and the many achievements registered in the last fifteen years in all sectors including in the area of Human Rights, is the reason the UK and other countries are supporting Rwanda's bid to join the Commonwealth, and it is certainly hoped that membership is granted so that further progress can be achieved on all fronts.

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