Rwanda has so far implemented 63 of 67 recommendations made by the Human Rights Council Working Group of the United Nations.
Rwanda on Wednesday participated in the ongoing universal periodic review on human rights that is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 2011, Rwanda accepted to implement 67 Human Rights Council universal periodic review recommendations relating to human rights practices in the country
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world as well as addressing instances of human rights violations.
Johnstone Busingye, the minister for justice, presented Rwanda’s progress in the implementation of the recommendations and in establishing fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Busingye said the government was committed to ensuring that Rwandans enjoy the dignity and respect they are entitled to.
The remaining four recommendations were in the implementation process, the minister added.
Espousing same ideal
He said promotion of rights and freedoms was enshrined in the national Vision 2020 and second Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII) making it top priority for the government.
“Our story today, as in 2011, is one of promise and defiant hope. We will continue to comply with local and international commitments and obligations in spite of the odds bequeathed to us by our history generally and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in particular,” Busingye, who is also the Attorney-General, said.
He added that Rwandans had chosen not to forget the Genocide as it acts as a reminder of where the country has come from and never go back there.
“As our President says, we cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future so that what happened never happens again,” he said.
Busingye added that the present dispensation was based on a political culture that values diversity and consensus building where Rwandans are at the centre of the planning processes and are active participants in the implementation of programmes that impact their lives.
“We now have a system of laws and institutions that guarantees justice for all and gives Rwandans the confidence to pursue their unhindered potential,” he said.
By investing heavily in social economic development, the minister noted, the government was encouraging a mindset shift away from a dependency to one of self sufficiency, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The efforts have had an impact as Rwanda had achieved all the Millennium Development Goals but one.
In relation to economic rights, Rwanda has moved from times when the gross domestic product (GDP) growth was -11 when government revenues could only sustain less that 20 per cent of the National Budget and most Rwandans lived in poverty.
However, over the past few years, GDP growth has risen to about 7 per cent and government revenue sustains 66 per cent of the national budget with poverty reduced substantially.
Prior to the appearance before the UN Human Rights Working Group, the minister tabled a national report on the periodic review that outlined progress in the recommendations.
Among the work put in by the government, was the establishment of institutions such as National Commission for Human Rights, Office of the Ombudsman, National Commission for Children, the Gender Monitoring Office, National Commission for the fight against Genocide and Rwanda Governance Board, among others.
Among the mechanisms put in place to safe guard the rights was to safeguard the independence of the judiciary by ensuring financial and administrative autonomy as well as independence in the management of judges, including their appointment, promotion, removal and discipline by the High Council of the Judiciary.
The report further notes that in the implementation of the recommendations, there had been reforms to ensure that even inmates under correctional services were guaranteed rights.
“Several reforms in the prison system have been carried out in line with the UN standards of Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners so as to guarantee the fundamental rights of persons in detention. New prisons such as Rubavu, Nyanza and Nyagatare were constructed as well as Mageragere which is still under construction,” the report reads in part.