12 October 2017

Rwanda: Govt Rubbishes Report on Military Torture Claims

Photo: HRW
Military torture.

Rwanda has dismissed the latest report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that accuses its military of using torture to force confessions, terming it as yet another witch hunt.

The Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney-General, Johnston Busingye said Wednesday that the rights group has over the years been running a campaign to discredit the government.

"There is no truth to the HRW report. Rwanda is party to, and observes the Convention Against Torture as well as domestic laws," Mr Busingye wrote on Twitter, adding that: "HRW has recycled old, discredited and baseless allegations, for which they have no credible evidence. They will, in time, be exposed."

In its report published on Tuesday, HRW accused Rwanda's military of using asphyxiation, electric shock and mock executions to torture confessions out of detainees.

The watchdog said it documented at least 104 cases of people who were illegally detained, and in many cases tortured or ill-treated, in military detention centres between 2010 and 2016.

It further said that the widespread and systematic torture was often ignored by judges and prosecutors whenever complaints were made.

The 91-page report follows closely two others, from HRW, accusing Rwandan government of cracking down on political opponents and extrajudicial killings over petty offences.

"The Rwandan government has every right to protect its citizens from armed groups like the FDLR, but allowing the military to commit heinous crimes only creates mistrust in the government," Ida Sawyer of HRW said in the new report.

"To demonstrate its respect for the rule of law, and to put an end to these horrible practices, the government should immediately investigate and prosecute those responsible for unlawful detention and torture," Ms Sawyer said.

The government however maintains that the New York-based group has a "vindictive agenda against Rwanda" and often publishes reports that are false.

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