Cape Town — Rwandan President Paul Kagame has described criticism of his country's human rights record as "rubbish" and "ridiculous" in an interview with France24's Catherine Nicholson on the sidelines of the European Development Day in Brussels.
Kagame said that Rwanda was a different country compared to what it was 25 years ago, challenging Nicholson to look at what he called Europe's failing human rights record, especially its treatment of migrants.
"Europe is violating people's rights, with this problem of people being bundled and sent back to sink in the Mediterranean and so many people being mistreated in your own country," he said.
Kagame told her that Europeans should stop having a superiority complex where they think that they are the only ones who care about human rights. "You (Europe) really need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights. You think you're the only ones who respect human rights, and all others it's about violating human rights. No, we have fought for human rights and freedoms of our people much better, and more than anyone including you people who keep talking about this nonsense," Kagame said.
Although 39,1% of the population lives below the poverty line, Rwanda has still come a long way, recovering from the aftermath of the 1994 genocide and seeing steady economic growth.
"Where we have taken a country and where it is now, speaks for itself" he added.
In recent years, at business summits across the world, Rwanda has received praise for its growth. Various speakers have singled it out as one of the emerging economies to look out for in terms of investment opportunities, value for money and economic growth.
Without being conditioned, EU assistance can be suspended for human rights or democracy issues. This is not the case for Rwanda, despite calls from human rights and development organizations to be more focused on these issues in this country. Rwanda was to receive some € 460 million in EU assistance between 2014 and 2020 under the 11th EDF, including direct budget support.
But as the Chairperson of the AU's Reform team, Kagame has advocated for less donor dependency and more sustainable funding by African states. He has often challenged African countries who contribute less than 30% of the AU's budget and turn to external donors with a begging bowl, which has been blamed for influencing the body's decisions and priorities.
As AU chair, Kagame has sought an adjustment of terms between Africa and the rest of the world for mutual benefit. This, he has argued, is more sustainable in the long run and presents an avenue for growth among all parties, as opposed to aid, which maintains dependence.