20 per cent of the population unaware of their rights – NCHR

Madeleine Nirere, Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights, speaks during the presentation of the report in Kigali yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Some19.6 per cent of the population in Rwanda is still not aware of its human rights, stakeholders attending a consultative meeting on 2018-2023 Strategic Plan of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), heard yesterday.

The Chairperson of the NCHR, Madeleine Nirere, said her commission would in the next six years concentrate on human rights awareness campaigns to reduce the number significantly.

“Only 80 per cent of the population is satisfied by awareness on human rights and 19.6 per cent are not. This means that the effort of the commission vis-à-vis human rights awareness should be increased,” she said.

Nirere pointed out that in the last five years, most of the complaints they received revolved around property, education and justice rights, and sexual violence, especially concerning children and domestic violence.

“When it comes to children, there is still challenge of school dropouts and defilement and while those involved are often convicted, there is still the issue of compensation,” she said.

Call for help

Nirere appealed for urgent support to homes for the elderly, which she said needed financial support.

“We visited homes that receive the elderly and we found that their resources are limited, only affording them the basics. For instance, it is difficult for most of them who can’t walk to access crutches or wheelchairs. There is need for urgent financial support,” she said.

Nirere also pointed out that, in the existing few orphanages, children with disabilities are still stuck because not many people are interested in adopting them.

She pointed out that though there has been progress in terms of inclusive education, children with disabilities like the visually impaired and those with hearing issues still need help in terms of equipment to use while studying.

The Secretary General of NHRC, Dr Emmanuel Nibishaka, told participants that the capacity to receive complaints increased, and currently 91.5 per cent of all complaints received at the Commission were handled.

“The rate of resolved complaints increased significantly. For instance, in 2013-2014, out of 1116 complaints that were received only 654 were resolved representing 58.6 per cent, but in 2017-2018, out of 1868, 1441 complaints, representing 77 per cent, were resolved. That is an improvement,” he said.

Nibishaka pointed out that the institution faces a challenge of ineffective monitoring mechanism in the implementation of recommendations issued by the Commission to public institutions.

“For instance, after a study, it was established that the Commission lacks a framework for regular dialogue with institutions that receive recommendations to evaluate how such recommendations are being implemented,” he said.

The National Commission for Human Rights is entrusted with the primary responsibility of promoting and protecting human rights in the country.