Call for greater civil society role in promoting rights

Eugene Rusanganwa, the Advisor to the Deputy Chief Justice, explains about the UPR recommendations on Friday. Michel Nkurunziza.

There is need for more attention by the country’s civil society players to the Universal Periodic Review Recommendations (UPR) to ensure they contribute to its implementation.

This was said by Eugene Rusanganwa, an Advisor of the Deputy Chief Justice.

He was speaking last Friday during an awareness campaign on UPR recommendations, an event that brought together different civil society organisations with an aim to help them link their activities with recommended human rights.

The Universal Periodic Review is a UN mechanism which reviews human rights records of all UN Member States.

The report on the records is presented after every four years and for Rwanda, the cycle started in 2011.

Rusanganwa said that there are about 50 recommendations made in 2015 and after, four years, the implementation report on these will be presented next year on the date that is yet to be announced.

“Rwanda has been implementing these recommendations and a mid-term report has been prepared but there remains almost a year to report which means civil society should pick interest and help fill in any gaps that may exist,” he said.

He added: “If government has implemented these recommendations at 80 per cent so far, civil society must help in covering of remaining percentage, or play some role.”

Some of the 50 UPR recommendations, he presented include protecting children’s rights, continue with efforts to prevent genocide, promoting unity and reconciliation, assisting victims of Genocide, eliminating provisions undermining freedom of expression, granting power to national human rights commission so that they consider human rights complaints, strengthening capacity of the Ombudsman’s office, access to justice for all Rwandans, among others.

“Government has made good progress in implementing these. For instance, some laws were reviewed while staff of human rights commission have been trained. Government has started building capacity of Ombudsman staff in investigation of corruption and other violations. Prosecution of Genocide offences continues and government has intervened in recovering Genocide victims’ properties,” he said.

Other UPR recommendations include improving conditions of those in detention facilities and ensuring they fulfill international standards, combating school dropouts, and ensuring rights of cross-border traders, especially women.

CSOs speak out

Evariste Murwanashyaka, the Programs Manager of the Umbrella of Human Rights Organizations in Rwanda (CLADHO), said that they have produced supplementary reports on how they observed the implementation of twelve recommendations under UPR related to children rights.

“Most of the time the examiners of UPR recommendations implementation use such alternative reports and then summon the governments to explain any gaps reported,” he said, adding that looking at both reports (from government and CSOs) helps informing the recommendations for the next cycle.