The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: MPs to 'Get to Bottom' of Problems Dogging Genocide Memorial Centres

The parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight Against Genocide has resolved to get to investigate the state of Genocide monuments countrywide.

The decision was announced by the committee chairperson François Byabarumwanzi during an interview yesterday, in which he said the lawmakers on the committee will embark on a countrywide tour of all the memorial centres.

In November, last year, the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) presented its 2012-13 report to Parliament, indicating that most Genocide memorial centres remained in poor state.

The lawmakers want to inspect all the memorial centres, especially those cited to have serious problems, ahead of the 20th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that starts in April.

"We can't solely rely on these reports alone," Byabarumwanzi said.

Yesterday, a team of committee members headed to Rubavu and Musanze where they will spend two days before proceeding to Eastern Province districts next week.

Previously, in March 2012, CNLG appealed to the committee to help address issues, including what Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the commission's executive secretary, then said was the challenge of chronic budget constraints.

At the time, the committee was scrutinising CNLG's 2010-2011 report.

Byabarumwanzi said: "If you look at our previous effort after scrutinising CNLG's 2010-2011 report, there is progress. For example, consider the Bisesero memorial which had been damaged by a contractor who did shoddy work on it."

He added: "Last year, CNLG reported that everything was now in order as regards renovation; the situation was bad and I saw this myself. We are visiting a select few areas we have sampled as we can't visit all of them. We will first visit the Nyundo Memorial Centre (Rubavu) on Monday."

Damage:

In 2012, flood water from River Sebeya gushed into Nyundo Genocide Memorial Centre, causing considerable damage. Remains had to be relocated to Nyundo Cathedral, while a better site to construct a new memorial was being sought.

The site has been found and construction work is ongoing.

"We will visit the site to ascertain for ourselves the quality of construction works," Byabarumwanzi said.

There are about 300 Genocide memorial sites in the country.

Meanwhile, another team led by MP Innocent Kayitare, the deputy chairperson of the committee, is in Rusizi District.

The legislators' tour, which will also cover various other issues such as human rights matters, comes at a time when the country is preparing to mark two decades since the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Kayitare said their wish is that by the time of commemoration activities kick off, all issues will have been addressed.

"That is mainly what is taking us to the field even though there are other issues to do with the human rights," Kayitare said.

"There could also be some other issues they [CNLG] missed out in their report; we are going to interact with pertinent people and look beyond the report for issues and how they are being solved."

In November, last year, John Rutayisire, the president of CNLG, told Parliament that during the 2012/2013 period, a total 13,784 new remains of Genocide victims were discovered and given a decent burial.

In the 2012/13 budget, CNLG was allocated Rwf1.6 billion. Rutayisire said 95 per cent of it was used. However, he noted that challenges like limited budget, Genocide denial, trauma cases, among others, still burden the institution.

Plans to tackle the obstacles, he said, include continued advocacy for an increased budgetary allocation, campaign against Genocide denial and advocacy to help improve the welfare of Genocide survivors.

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