UN rights team, Rwanda dis­agree

The East African - - NEWS - By ROBERT MBARAGA Spe­cial correspondent

DIS­AGREE­MENT OVER visit­ing and in­ter­view­ing jailed op­po­si­tion politi­cian Vic­toire Ingabire is at the cen­tre of the stand­off be­tween Rwanda and the UN tor­ture pre­ven­tion body, sources have told The East African.

A del­e­ga­tion of the sub­com­mit­tee against tor­ture, wanted to meet the leader of the non-reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Fdu-inkingi, and other in­car­cer­ated peo­ple and con­duct pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial in­ter­views, which did not go down well with the Rwan­dan au­thor­i­ties.

“We have been un­able to carry out pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial in­ter­views with some per­sons de­prived of their lib­erty,” said Ar­man Danielyan, the SPT head of del­e­ga­tion, in a com­mu­niqué an­nounc­ing the sus­pen­sion of their visit.

He did not pro­vide de­tails of those they wanted to meet.

Rwanda main­tains that the five-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion con­ducted field vis­its to sev­eral in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing pris­ons, po­lice sta­tions, tran­sit cen­ters, and a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, in­ter­view­ing staff, in­mates, and pa­tients.

A Rwanda gov­ern­ment state­ment re­leased just after the mis­sion was cut short, ac­cuses the del­e­ga­tion of vi­o­lat­ing their “own guide­lines” “by abruptly ter­mi­nat­ing the mis­sion and turn­ing to the me­dia be­fore dis­cussing the mat­ter with the host gov­ern­ment.

“Rwanda con­sid­ers the ter­mi­na­tion an act of bad faith,” said Jus­tice Min­is­ter John­ston Bus­ingye.

No fur­ther com­ment

De­spite the del­e­ga­tion de­nounc­ing “grave lim­i­ta­tions im­posed on grant­ing ac­cess to cer­tain places of de­ten­tion, the gov­ern­ment in­sists that “any tech­ni­cal is­sues that arose dur­ing the field vis­its were im­me­di­ately re­solved.”

Sources told us that the two sides dis­agreed right from the be­gin­ning, be­cause gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials wanted the del­e­ga­tion to visit pre­de­ter­mined places and to in­ter­view peo­ple se­lected by gov­ern­ment agents, a po­si­tion that the del­e­ga­tion turned down.

The gov­ern­ment was also an­gered by state­ments that many of those the com­mit­tee man­aged to in­ter­view “have ex­pressed fears of reprisals”.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Bus­ingye “al­le­ga­tions of reprisals against any in­ter­vie­wee are base­less and in­flam­ma­tory.”

The gov­ern­ment chal­lenged the com­mit­tee to make pub­lic the “al­leged ob­sta­cles that com­pro­mised its mis­sion.”

The com­mit­tee has not re­sponded to Rwanda’s re­quests and has re­fused to com­ment fur­ther on the in­ci­dent.

“Con­sid­er­ing the prin­ci­ple of con­fi­den­tial­ity that, amongst oth­ers, rules the work of the SPT, the del­e­ga­tion has no other com­ments to make about the sus­pen­sion of this visit than what is men­tioned in its press re­lease,” said Joao Nataf, the SPT sec­re­tary; Hu­man Rights Treaty Divi­sion.

The ex­change be­tween the two through press re­leases has left their fu­ture re­la­tion­ship clouded in un­cer­tainty.

Ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, their fu­ture rap­port could de­pend on how the in­ci­dent will be han­dled, es­pe­cially in the forth­com­ing re­view of Rwanda by the same com­mit­tee, sched­uled on Novem­ber 4, 2017, in Geneva.

Al­le­ga­tions of reprisals against any in­ter­vie­wee are base­less and in­flam­ma­tory.” Rwanda Jus­tice Min­is­ter, John­ston Bus­ingye

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.