KIGALI - The government has strongly criticized the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on what it termed as baseless, claims that it is exerting political pressure on the Burundi government to expel Rwandan asylum seekers.
In a telephone Interview with Sunday Times, Local Government Minister Christophe Bazivamo said that; “Burundi has an independent government and can not be forced against its will,” adding that the “Government of Rwanda is not putting pressure on asylum seekers in Burundi.”
HRW claims in a report released on Friday titled Burundi: Review Rwanda’s asylum claims, that this month many asylum seekers in Burundi were forced to return to Rwanda on false claims that their refugee status had been denied. HRW claims that the refuges were expelled from the provinces of Kirundo and Ngozi.
The New York based organisation further claims that; “Without individually evaluating their claims - and under significant pressure from Rwanda - Burundi’s minister of interior, Edouard Nduwimana, declared on October 8 that all the Rwandans should be “rapidly expelled” from the country.”
Bazivamo explained thatmost are criminals and renowned for their involvement and participation in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He said that these people are escaping to neighbouring countries including Burundi.
“With such people, it’s normal to run after them, especially this time when the region is not only building a firm and strong security cooperation, but relations with in all structures,” said Bazivamo.
He pointed out that if people are not criminals in their own countries, there is no reason for running away.
Reacting to the allegations by HRW that the Rwandans seeking asylum in Burundi fear double prosecution after being acquitted, Bazivamo dismissed them saying that such practice does not exist in Rwanda.
“Prosecution after being acquitted is never acceptable. Records are normally kept to prove innocence,” Bazivamo stressed.