Rusesabagina’s rights are fully respected, says rights watchdog

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has said that terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina is getting treatment he is entitled to under the Rwandan laws and that his rights are being respected accordingly.

The observations follow the commission's visit to Rusesabagina, on September 16, during which they interview him in private regarding conditions of his detention at Remera Metropolitan Police Station to ensure his rights to social welfare and due process of law are being respected.

 

While presenting to the media the commission’s findings on Tuesday, September 22, Marie-Claire Mukasine, the chairperson of the commission said it was under their mandate to ensure the rights of all detainees in Rwanda are respected.

 

“He [Rusesabagina] is not the first nor the last we’ve visited. The visit may also depend on the commission’s consideration of public’s curiosity about a particular case,” she said.

 

During the visit, the commission found Rusesabagina was detained alone in a spacious, clean and self-contained room, with light and fresh air, proper bedding covered by a mosquito net and adequate sanitary facilities.

Mukasine said that Rusesabagina, who faces up to 13 charges related to terrorism is adequately fed, with three meals a day as well as being supplied with clean drinking water.

In line with the detainee's rights to medical attention, Mukasine said the 66-year-old’s rights to health is respected as he was taken to a doctor whenever he wanted to and was given necessary care and treatment.

The same had earlier been emphasized by the suspect last week on September 14, during which he told court that he has full access to medical attention.

In particular, he is protected from Covid-19 with the necessary personal protective equipment and his visitors are required to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test among other requirements to be allowed to visit him.

The commission also says Rusesabagina has been facilitated to speak with members of his family who live abroad.

He was informed of the charges against him at the time of arrest, and the statement of arrest and detention (arrest report, provisional arrest warrant) were filled accordingly and, during questioning, the commission noted that his right to protection from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were duly observed.

Rusesabagina was also allowed to personally choose two lawyers to represent him from a list provided by the Rwanda Bar Association, and is given time and facilities to engage in private communication with them for the preparation of his defense.

More time with counsel

During the visit, Rusesabagina appealed to the commission to be given more time to speak to his lawyers as well as be allowed to call his family members abroad more frequently.

The commission immediately made an appeal to concerned institutions and requested them to ensure Rusesabagina’s complaints are put into consideration.

“Whenever detainees present to us complaints related to their rights, it is in our mandate to not only advocate for them and we requested involved institutions to address his complaints,” she said.

Rusesabagina, who was presented to the media on August 31 following his arrest, is charged with 13 counts related to terrorism linked to activities of FLN, a militia group founded by a collective of outfits under an umbrella called MRCD, which he heads.

The militia group has previously made incursions into Rwanda in which several people were killed while others sustained injuries and property destroyed or pillaged by the assailants.

He was last week remanded for 30 days by Kicukiro Primary Court, a ruling he said he would appeal against.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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