1 March 2018

Rwanda: UN Torture Prevention Team to Resume Rwanda Visit

Photo: HRW
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A team of United Nations investigators has said it will resume its review of Rwanda's implementation of anti-torture policies.

The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) had cut short its mission in the country last October citing obstruction by the government and fears of reprisal on interviewees.

Kigali faulted the move saying it was in bad faith and that it would "consider its options in respect of the Optional Protocol."

Rwanda is among 87 states that voluntarily ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The SPT makes regular visits to the states to monitor and advise on how countries "can ensure that detained persons are free from torture and ill-treatment and have decent conditions of detention."

The investigators visit prisons, police stations, detention centres for migrants and juveniles, interrogation facilities and psychiatric hospitals.

Preventive mechanism

Last month, Rwanda expanded the mandate of its National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to include monitoring of cases of torture in the country.

The agency will serve as the national preventive mechanism against torture, one of the obligations under the Optional Protocol.

Rwanda's Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, said with the new mandate, the country would "avoid any future occurrence of an external organ coming in to do what we are supposed to be doing."

In a statement by the SPT on Wednesday, the UN said it would also visit countries that are yet to set up a national detention monitoring body, noting that it was a "serious violation" of the protocol.

About half of the 13 countries it listed were African states and include Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Liberia. Others are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chile, Nauru, Panama and the Philippines.

The UN human rights agency said it would announce the dates the subcommittee would visit Rwanda in due course.

Human rights group have long accused Rwanda of torturing detainees and rights abuses, allegations Kigali dismisses.

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