Although the government’s efforts put into observing human rights at the height of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic should be commended, there are still some gaps that need to be filled so that Rwandans continue to enjoy their fundamental rights. This was revealed by the Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission Olivier Rwamukwaya on Thursday, December 10 while addressing participants at the ceremony to commemorate the International Human Rights Day. He was presenting an assessment report on the impact of Covid-19 on human rights, highlighting what was done right and what can be improved as the country continues to fight the pandemic. Rwamukwaya said that although some of the measures adopted to combat the virus may have affected the enjoyment of human rights in different ways, it was important to appreciate that the responses adopted by the government were aimed at mitigating the adverse impact of the spread of the Covid-19. Such measures included restrictions of movement, closing of schools, borders and businesses. However, he said that there are some improvements that still need to be done to ensure that this year’s theme to ‘build back better’ by putting human rights at the core of recovery is realized. Consider more justice alternatives He said that for instance, as one of the measures to mitigate the pandemic, the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) released 2,855 detainees of minor crimes in a bid to decongest holding cells. While this move should be commended, there is need to continue building on this to help reduce potential delays that may infringe on the right to liberty and security of individuals. “We recommend that NPPA considers more alternative measures in cases involving minor offences to pre-trial detention such as bail and release under judicial restrictions. This will work to among other things cut on the congestion in police detention centers and prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said Need for detainee tests He called upon the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) to expedite the mandatory test for detainees before transfer to correctional facilities. “All apprehended suspects are required to be tested before being interrogated or produced before courts of law. It was observed that these tests are not always carried out systematically and this has contributed to the delay in interrogation and prosecution,” he said. The rights body also called on the Ministry of Health to put more effort into ensuring that communication campaigns accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities to ensure the respect of the right to information in the context of Covid-19. Value of solidarity The UN Resident Coordinator Fodé Ndiaye reminded that Covid 19 continues to be felt globally killing many and paralysing the socio-economic fabric of most countries and affecting humanitarian development. The global Covid-19 crisis has been fuelled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, vulnerabilities, sexual and gender-based violence, structural and entrenched discrimination plus other gaps in human rights protection, he said. He said that challenges to overcome are constantly increasing but they require robust efforts in cooperation among states, enhancing the solidarity among the institutions and countries.