Rwanda’s Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday unanimously passed a resolution officially asking the European Parliament (EP) to withdraw a resolution it passed last Thursday accusing Rwanda’s authorities of harassing political dissenters.
In a five-page resolution, the European Parliament has alleged that Rwanda’s authorities are involved in acts of intimidation, arrest, detention or prosecution of opposition party leaders, members and activists, as well as journalists and other perceived critics of the government.
The allegations, which in giving the example of harassed opposition leaders mentioned Rwandan national Victoire Ingabire who is serving a 15-year term in prison for charges that include undermining the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, were made following the visit in Rwanda of members of the European Parliament’s committee on women’s rights and gender equality last month.
Though the committee visited the country on an officially declared mission to share with Rwandan MPs on the best practices in the promotion of the rights of women and gender equality, it appears that none of the known good achievements that Rwanda realised in that area were reported back home.
Rwandan MPs who hosted the committee were instead shocked to read the European Parliament’s resolution castigating the country’s institutions, especially the judiciary and the legislature.
“We should ask them to apologise for their insults,” said MP Juliana Kantengwa, one of the lawmakers who hosted their European counterparts last month.
She was shocked at the change of topic by the European Parliament’s committee on women’s rights and gender equality and she said that its members did a disservice to other members of the EP by submitting an erroneous report about Rwanda.
“Their resolution shouldn’t be put in the official archives of any respected institution such as the European Parliament,” she said.
In reaction to the EP’s resolution on Rwanda, many Rwandan MPs interpreted their European counterparts’ latest comments on Rwanda as undermining the country’s post-genocide progress and bent on supporting genocide deniers.
“Rwanda has got a lot of enemies and negative forces who are connected to genocide perpetrators. These attacks are meant to discourage efforts to send fugitive genocide perpetrators back to Rwanda to face trial,” said MP Henriette Mukamurangwa Sebera.
MP Juvenal Nkusi agreed, explaining that, by undermining Rwanda’s judicial institutions that try genocide deniers, the European parliamentarians seem to be preparing space for them.
“It doesn’t look like they respect the democracy they preach to us. Their objective is to prepare the way for genocide deniers and perpetrators to have space in Rwanda,” Nkusi said.
The Rwandan MPs have also urged their European counterparts to denounce genocide denial by focusing their efforts on bringing Rwandan genocide fugitives who are still roaming free in Europe to courts so they can face justice and enacting laws against denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in their countries.
The Rwandan Parliament’s resolution, which was voted on by both senators and deputies, will be widely circulated to institutions that include the European Union Commission, the UN Security Council, the African Union, as well as the EAC Secretariat and Parliament with hopes that it will make the EP’s recent resolution on Rwanda invalid.