The Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Marie-Claire Mukasine has called on the government to draw lessons from the ongoing fight against Covid-19 to enact the country’s first national emergency health bill. Mukasine said this while responding to journalists’ questions regarding NHRC’s assessment of the impact of Covid-19 on Rwandan’s rights. She said that that while the work and resources that the government has invested in fighting and mitigating the spread of the Covid-19 virus must be acknowledged, this was also an opportunity to use the experiences learned to prepare better for future emergencies of similar magnitude. “We think that there is an opportunity in the ongoing battle against the pandemic to use the experience to enact an emergency health bill that is clear and will make the entire process even much easier so that we are even more ready if something like this happens again,” she said. Mukasine also emphasized the need for the government to continue explaining about the pandemic because the general population are a better ally when they are armed with the right information. More requests The rights body also said that there are still some gaps that need to be filled so that Rwandans continue to enjoy their fundamental rights. Among them is the need to continue releasing people arrested for minor crimes which can help to not only decongest detention centers but also reduces 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 centres and prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,” they commended. The Commission also called upon 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,” it 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. The Chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, Dr Joseph Nkurunziza Ryarasa, says that the gaps and failures exposed by Covid-19 should be addressed through the meaningful participation of all and elimination of systematic and intergenerational inequalities. “In the absence of human dignity, we cannot hope to attain the said sustainable human development goals. We also cannot guarantee our chances of lasting peace unless we strive to put human rights at the centre of work. We must all work together,” he said.