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Posts from — April 2013

The Diaspora, a valuable resource to Rwanda’s development

Ndera hospital’s patient file system got digitized thanks to MiDA

Ndera hospital’s patient file system got digitized thanks to MiDA

When you visit the Kigali university teaching hos­pital (CHUK), you find all the documents being pro­cessed, data entered, and many of the response provided through ICT tools and online methods. That is courte­sy of the Migration for Development (MiDA) program, which brings in Rwandan (and regional) experts from the Diaspora community in order to transfer their skills to compatriots in the mother country.

The objectives of the project in CHUK’s case, as ex­plained by Dr Martin Nyundo who heads the MiDA fo­cal point at the hospital, were a need to provide quality service to patients, and promote the quality of data and research. Capacity building was offered to the admistra­tive and nursing staff at CHUK, Muhima and Kibagaba hospitals, and in the field of medical computer applica­tions to improve management, research and networking between the hospitals.

The hospital acquired equipment and systems for managing data (20 PCs), and the staff attended training and research in medical information technology; basic computer skills, collection, centralization and analysis; management of internal and external communication; and workshops on medical ICT. A number of 348 em­ployees were trained.

An IT employee at the hospital who didn’t want to be named for professional reasons told The Rwanda Focus that when he started working at the hospital, they were still using paper patients’ files. “It was challenging be­cause it could take a long time to find someone’s file,” she said.

Since mid last year, that has become history – all the files have now been transferred to an electronic database.

According to Eugene Kandekwe, MiDA’s national coordinator, experts from the Rwandan Diaspora have helped in other programs including Ndera mental health hospital, Gihundwe district hospital, the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, the Institute of Ag­riculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE-Busogo), Tubi­teho program which consisted of daycare for mentally and sensory disabled children and the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE).

At KIST, they organized a training workshops and postgraduate program on instrumentation for environ­mental and biochemical analysis. The program, which saw more than 40 employees trained, aimed at helping the department of chemistry to design and initiate a re­gional postgraduate training program in environmental and biochemical fields, training members of staff and students in applied chemistry department on the use, operation and maintenance of equipments; and ensur­ing reproducibility following internationally accepted protocols as well as good laboratory practices.

In Gihundwe Hospital in Rusizi, the experts strength­ened the hospital’s management system. “This aimed at improving the capacity of resource management (hu­man, material and financial resources) and improving the patient management capacity (patient identifica­tion, tracking and invoicing),” Kandekwe explained. At Ndera too, patient files were digitized.

While addressing the Rwandan Diaspora Convention in the USA in September 2006, President Paul Kagame remarked that “the Rwandan Diaspora is clearly a re­source that can make valuable contributions to our quest for a better future for our country. What needs to be done urgently is to devise means of utilizing this re­source.”

Parfait Gahamanyi, the director general of the Rwandan Community Abroad at the ministry of foreign affairs and coop­eration, reiterated that the Diaspora plays a vital role in their motherland’s de­velopment. “The Diaspora includes a big number of experts in various fields whose skills are needed by different staff and services here,” Gahamanyi said.

And they come cheap, because the MiDA ex­perts are doing the work for free. “In collaboration with MiDA, which is it­self sponsored by the Bel­gian government, we used to give the experts only airline tickets and accom­modation,” Gahamanyi stressed. “There are no salaries, but they came in a big number, and many more are still willing to do so.”

Source: Rwanda Focus

April 30, 2013   No Comments

Elderly Rwandan Genocide survivors: a complex problem

Asteria Nyirabashi (L) and Rosaria Mukamusoni are both elder survivors who lost all their family relatives and now have to fend for themselves

Asteria Nyirabashi (L) and Rosaria Mukamusoni are both elder survivors who lost all their family relatives and now have to fend for themselves

Rosaria Mukamusoni, 81, lost her entire family during the Genocide, and for her, it is not history, but a lasting wound. She now stays alone in Gasharu cell in Gasabo where she has to cope on her own. “I used to struggle and feed myself, but I’m no longer able to do anything,” she points out. “When I am lucky, I get something from a do­nor.”

After the 1994 Genocide, the gov­ernment established the assistance fund for genocide survivors (FARG) to provide all needy survivors with basic necessities. This includes a project program where they are as­sisted to run income-generating ac­tivities, but Mukamusoni can’t really do any activity. “They recently intro­duced a mushroom project, but I’m no longer strong. Only young people can do that,” she says.

What remains for the elder wid­ow is to stay inside the house she got from FARG some years back, yet there she falls prey to strong emo­tions such as bereavement, loneli­ness, restlessness, insomnia, and generally, poor mental, emotional, and physical well-being as there is no one around to help.

The sad life that Mukamusoni ex­periences is common among many older genocide widows who lost all of their relatives during the geno­cide, and who live in solitude for the rest of their lives.

Chantal Kabasinga, the president of the Genocide survivors associa­tion Avega Agahozo, decries it as “a new, very complex issue” and said that they identified 1462 people over 70 whose family members were all massacred, and who have no one to take care of them.

Southern Province tops the list with 547; Western Province follows with 304 while Eastern Province has 390. Northern Province and Kigali city have 114 and 107 respectively.

“Most of them don’t only need food, but also are unable to wash themselves or their clothes. It’s a very complex issue rising rapidly,” Kabasinga points out, adding that Avega has so far identified 248 wom­en who are in the worst situation to start taking care of during the 100 days of mourning.

Direct support

Odette Kayirere, the executive sec­retary of Avega, observes that last year they gathered information about such elderly widows and they now have a book in which they keep pic­tures and the state of each of them. Among them, 804 have been identi­fied in the worst situation. And the numbers keep increasing as years go by.

Kayirere explains that they are in consultation with all concerned en­tities to see how they can help such women. In the meantime, the asso­ciation will carry out comprehen­sive research to understand the issue and identify solutions. “We need re­search-based facts, rather than emo­tions,” Kayirere points out.

The results are expected by the end of May.

Jean de Dieu Udahemuka, FARG’s communications officer, for his part says that they provide the elderly with direct support. The basic unit is Frw 7,500 per individual, but Udahe­muka says this can be increased de­pending on the specific situation of a person.

The official says that they work hand in hand with Avega which has representatives up to cell level to know those who are in need. He also mentioned that they work with grassroots entities to facilitate access to their support. Nonetheless, it can be useless for an elder aged over 70 since she can’t do anything unless there is someone to help.

“We recognize that it’s a very com­plex issue. It’s an issue that has to be owned and examined by a wide range of institutions to see what can be done or how the community can be involved,” Udahemuka explains.

Nursing homes

Suggestions among officials are varied. One is to find nursing homes where they can be gathered and tak­en care of, but here again, Rwanda’s philosophy has been to build a fam­ily-based community.

On the other hand, it has been suggested to find a sustainable way for local communities to take care of these elders. However, even that might have adverse effects. “When I got a house from FARG, I could hear some of my neighbors murmuring that ‘they gave her a house while there are healthy people around,’” says Asteria Nyirabashi, 81, staying in Kinyinya in Gasabo.

In addition, there have been re­ports of threats against genocide survivors, or actual violence such as the killing of their cows and even murder. This obviously creates fear among them.

The elder widows met in Kinyin­ya tell this paper that it’s even rare that one of their neighbors comes to pay them a visit. “Rwandans used to love each other, but I can see that things have changed,” Mukamuso­ni sighs. “No one can spend his time taking care of you, everyone looks after himself.”

Source: Rwanda Focus

April 30, 2013   No Comments

South Sudan President Lauds Rwanda Police

Rwanda and South Sudan media addressing the media

Rwanda and South Sudan media addressing the media

The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir has lauded the Rwanda Police force for their support in capacity building of the Sudanese police services.

President Kiir made the remarks last week at State House in capital Juba, while meeting Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana.

Gasana was in South Sudan on a working visit to strengthen ties between the two forces following the signing of the cooperation agreement in May last year.

Kiir pledged full support to the partnership for the good of communities in the two sister countries.

The signed agreement binds the two forces in combating cross-border crimes and capacity building.

The agreement focuses mainly on road safety, basic and advanced investigation, basic intelligence, IT and communication skills, public order management, junior supervisory course and training of trainers.

Lt. Gen Salva Mathok, South Sudan Deputy Minister of Interior, also stressed that the cooperation is paramount in professionalizing their force, which is mainly composed of former soldiers and militia groups.

South Sudan Police chief, Gen. Pieng Deng Kuol, said the cooperation between the two police forces has done much in building the capacity of their force.

According to Rwanda Police, more than 20 police officers from the South Sudan have so far have attended various police courses in Rwanda.

Rwanda Police has also selected a team of 18 police officers to be stationed in South Sudan for one year to train their police force in investigation, intelligence, traffic management and Information Technology (IT) among others.

He said Rwanda’s success story in areas of reconciliation, poverty eradication and peacekeeping is a good lesson that other countries and forces should learn from.

IGP Gasana, who observed that the two countries have had bad history, applauded the level of development in South Sudan and pledged the RNP support and exchange of best practices to build a professional force.

Source: News of Rwanda

April 30, 2013   No Comments

DRC And Rwandan Rebel Group M23 Quit Peace Talks As War Drums Beat

Sultan Makenga

Sultan Makenga
Both the DRC government and M23 representatives to the peace talks in Kampala have returned to their bases, leaving no room for a political solution to the conflict that has left hundreds dead and thousands in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

The DRC government delegation quit their hotel rooms at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo on Thursday before being flown out of the country.

The M23’s representatives followed suit on Friday afternoon, returning to Bunagana.

Military sources have told Chimpreports the two camps had met only twice in a period of 3 weeks.

The rebel group accused Kinshasha of a “negative attitude” towards the talks and “having too much faith” in the UN Intervention Brigade.

The Brigade will be composed of troops from Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

Some of the South African combatants have already arrived in Goma. It also emerged that at least 30 French military personnel had arrived in Goma to finalize plans of combating M23 fighters.

M23 officials on Monday afternoon told Chimpreports: “Kabila thinks that South Africa and Tanzania mercenaries will defeat M23. He is dreaming because we can’t be beaten by scouts.”

In preparation for an attack, sources say, M23 has intensified a massive recruitment and training of new combatants in guerilla warfare to engage UN Brigade.

Knowledgeable sources say the Brigade should prepare for a storm, considering that majority of M23 fighters have lived and fought several wars in their territory which is alien to the invading force.

The mountainous terrain and wintry weather is also dangerous for war planes, which could work against the UN Brigade should it choose to use the air force against the rebels.

It is also important to note that M23 is very popular in its territory, owing to victories secured against DRC troops in several encounters in 2012.

A source told Chimpreports that the UN force also faces the challenge of language and could face hostility from locals who dread FARDC forces for raping women, killing and maiming innocent civilians.

UN last week said at least 126 women had been raped in the eastern town of Minova in November 2012 by DRC soldiers.

What is also likely to compound The UN Brigade’s troubles in DRC is identification of rebels, considering they do not have a specific uniform.

While some put on the DRC uniform imported from China, others wear civilian clothes.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

On Monday morning, rumours spread that M23 military leader Brig Sultani Makenga had been shot in an ambush. However, sources described the story as “war propaganda” by Kinshasha intelligence aimed at demoralizing M23 combatants.

Impeccable military sources told this website that Makenga has already resolved that should his men be attacked, he will advance, strike and seize Goma with the view of marching to Kinshasha to topple President Joseph Kabila.

Speaking last Thursday at his base in Bunagana, Makenga warned: “We shall not surrender nor accept to be denied rights to exist on our ancestral land. We fight for our rights; we have to defend our lives, unless if the world believes that we must accept arbitrary arrests, and extermination of our families from the face of the Congo.”

He added: “We shall not surrender nor accept to be denied rights to exist on our own. The UN is set to unleash war in North and South Kivu and Maniema Provinces.”

M23 says South African forces have taken positions which are less than 15 kilometres away from M23 positions in Munigi on the outskirts of Goma.

The Tanzanian forces have also arrived in Uvira, South Kivu Province and the Tanzanian commander of the troops is in Goma town.

M23’s demands

M23 revolted in 2012, accusing Kabila of rigging the 2011 Presidential elections, human rights abuses, discrimination and corruption in the army and planned massacre of CNDP soldiers who had been integrated in FARDC.

Since the opening of the peace talks in Kampala, The rebels have been calling for the release of political prisoners affiliated to the rebel group, declaring Kivu a disaster area and formally recognizing the ranks of the military and police on the basis of M23 OB (Order of Battle) presented by the movement.

The rebels also want Kabila to organize, “without delay, provincial, urban and municipal elections and local throughout the territory of the Republic, in accordance with section 1 of Law No. 06/006 09 March 2006 on the organization of elections in the DRC.”

The demands are contained in M23’s proposed draft peace agreement presented to Dr Crispus Kiyonga, the mediator of peace talks in Kampala.

M23 want the DRC Government to show commitment to creating a special structure for national reconciliation and should “enjoy financial and administrative autonomy and placed under the authority of the President and supported by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Great Lakes Region.”

The rebels further ask Kabila to apply the provisions of Article 175 of the Constitution relating to the withholding of 40 percent of revenues from the public treasury, and within 45 days to enact a law establishing the classification of tax revenues and their allocation.

The Movement says government must apply the provisions of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution establishing 25 provinces plus the city of Kinshasa and enact an organic law on the composition, organization and functioning of the decentralized territorial entities and their relations with the State and the Provinces.

Because of recurring wars that led to the destruction of infrastructure, socio-economic fabric, fracture social cohesion and the absence of any prospect of development due to deficiency of a lasting peace and security in recent decades in the east of the Republic, the M23 wants government to undertake to declare the eastern part of the DRC (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Haut-Ouele, Maniema and Tanganyika) as a “disaster area.”

The rebels say the declared “disaster area” should enjoy a special administrative status; unique special development plan; broad fiscal and financial autonomy and specified operational concept for its security.

It further says DRC must facilitate the integration of policy frameworks of M23 and those considered as such and government should involve leaders of the movement in the management of national institutions through government centers, diplomacy/ Chancelleries, public enterprises, provinces and general Staff.

AMNESTY

Regarding national reconciliation, Kinshasha is required to enact amnesty provision for acts of war and insurrection covering the period from May 7 2009 until the end of the implementation of Agreement and in accordance with international law.

“In order to strengthen the democratic debate and to participate in national politics, the M23 is committed to become a political party. However, it reserves the right to change its name,” the proposed draft agreement reads in part.

Should these conditions be fulfilled, M23 says it is committed to conduct joint operations with government to participate in peacekeeping operations and stabilization of the eastern part.

To pacify sustainably eastern part of the Republic and effectively participate in the stabilization of the Great Lakes Region, M23 argues, these operations should be conducted over a period of five years, renewable and will aim to the final eradication of all foreign negative forces (LRA, ADF-NALU, FNL, FDLR) operating from the Congolese territory.

It further stresses the rebels should be repatriated to their countries of origin of all prisoners captured during those operations.

“Therefore, there will be the composition and articulation of joint forces (FARDC-ARC) to carry out such operations and reach, within a reasonable time to the expected results.”

The group further contends that to “end impunity in the national army the DRC government should set up a joint commission of independent investigation to shed light on selective assassinations in the national army, soldiers in Kamina, in Dungu, in Rutshuru, Shabunda in South Kivu and elsewhere, so that the sponsors of these acts will be brought before the competent courts.”

M23 further pledges to participate in the development of local communities to national parks and given the fact that they all suffered from the consequences of repeated wars, both parties should undertake initiatives to promote the tourism industry and to assign 100 percent of tourism revenue development of these populations.

“This base will be managed jointly by the permanent local conciliation committees and development structure to be agreed by both parties.”

M23 contends that given the principle of the continuity of the State, the Government of the DRC should recognize all the political and administrative acts within entities under administration M23.

Source: Chimp Reports

April 29, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda on the spot once again on claims of poor human-rights record

Rwanda’s human-rights record is once again in the spotlight after a new report by the US Department of State accused government security agents of engaging in torture, arbitrary or unlawful killings and detention of citizens without trial.

The Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2012 accuses Rwanda’s military intelligence services and police of torturing civilians using electric shocks, beatings and starving of suspects, among other abuses.

Specifically, the military intelligence department is accused of detaining civilians in safe houses without being charged or tried for several months.

The report, which the authors said offers an assessment of Rwanda’s human-rights record last year, notes that, while the government has occasionally made efforts to investigate these abuses, it did not punish any perpetrators.

“The most important human-rights problems in the country remained the government’s targeting of journalists, political opponents and human-rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; restrictions on civil liberties; and support of rebel groups in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo,” said the US report.

“The government generally took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere, but impunity involving civilian officials and State Security Forces was a problem.”

Rwanda has repeatedly denied allegations that the country is backing the M23 rebels operating in eastern Congo.

The accusations saw some key donors, mainly Germany, UK, the Netherlands and the US suspend or withdraw aid to Rwanda late last year.

In December last year, it was reported that US President Barack Obama had called Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and warned him about supporting the rebels.

Read: ‘He is neither a messiah nor a dictator, but a CEO with a vision’)

The latest report further damages the image of Rwanda, which at the beginning of the year took up its position as a member of the United Nations Security Council.

Rwanda, analysts said, was hoping to use its newly acquired membership to the UNSC to defuse tensions over its alleged role in the conflict in eastern DRC.

Only last year, yet another report by Amnesty International documented 18 allegations of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment perpetrated by the military intelligence and other agencies to secure information or force confessions at Kami military intelligence camp, Ministry of Defence headquarters, Mukamira military camp and safe houses.

Positive steps

However, local and international human-rights organisations acknowledged that the army’s leadership had taken positive steps during the year to reform military interrogation methods and detention standards, resulting in fewer reports of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment at Kami and other military detention facilities.

According to the report, there were fewer reports of disappearances and politically motivated abductions or kidnappings than in previous years, but local human-rights organisations ceased investigating disappearances during the year after reporting pressure from government officials, including threats and allegations of treason.

Amnesty International, Liprodhor and other observers alleged that the Military Intelligence Directorate, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) as well as the Department of Intelligence orchestrated the disappearances.

Reacting to the report, the leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza, said: “The National Human Rights Commission and the office of Ombudsman should carry out independent investigations into the matter and inform the general public about the alleged human-rights abuses.”

On his part, the executive secretary for the League for the Defence of Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region, Epimack Kwokwo, asks Members of Parliament to come up with a law that gives an independent body powers to investigative the alleged crimes and bring the culprits to book

He noted that the police and military could not investigate themselves. While prison and detention centre conditions were harsh, the report notes, the government made numerous improvements during the year.

The US report also criticises the government over failed attempts to stem rampant corruption, citing several cases. In a controversial March report, an ad hoc parliamentary committee charged the then Minister for Finance and Economic Planning John Rwangomba and eight other senior government officials with mismanaging the Rukara hydropower dam project.

Investigations by parliament

The parliamentary investigation followed the publication of an article in the New Times, which claimed that in 2011 Minister of Local Government James Musoni had illegally awarded public tenders to the local company Digitech Solutions (now known as Ngali Holdings).

Mr Rwangomba and the other officials protested the report’s findings as inaccurate and poorly researched, and in August the parliamentary committee of public accounts cleared the nine officials of any wrongdoing.

Source: Inyenyeri News

April 29, 2013   No Comments

UN Envoy to the Great Lakes Region to visit

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region: Mary Robinson

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region: Mary Robinson

The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, will make her first visit to the region in this new capacity from April 29 to 5 May.

Robinson will on her visit come from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa, before concluding her mission at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Information from the One UN Rwanda office, the Envoy looks forward to initiating discussions with leaders and officials from key countries that recently signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.

The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the region was signed on 24 February 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The peace initiative provides an important opportunity for countries to work collaboratively for peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.

It was signed by Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, the DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

She hopes that she will together with these countries find ways of how to translate this encouraging new agreement into tangible actions and cooperation to end the recurrent cycles of crisis and suffering in the eastern DRC.

The envoy will also meet with regional and sub-regional organizations and envoys working on issues surrounding the Great Lakes; representatives of NGOs, including women’s organizations; and UN and international partners.

She is expected in Rwanda on May 1. While here, she will meet with officials including Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo; NGOs; international community and the UN country team.

Source: News of Rwanda

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda: NUDOR roots for quality education for the disabled

Disabled children

Disabled children

The National Union of Disabilities Organisations in Rwanda (Nudor) has called on government to urgently improve the quality of education for children with disabilities.

Dominique Bizimana, the Nudor president, who was yesterday speaking at a workshop to discuss access to quality education for children and youth with disabilities, said challenges force many disabled children to remain dependent.

“The problems people with disabilities are facing are because they lack basic education. Much has been done but we still have a long way to go,” said Bizimana.

“People with disability can be helped in various ways such as getting shelter, clothes yet without education nothing can serve, what we need is more education than anything else,” he added.

The three-day workshop, which opened in Musanze district, yesterday, is meant to find ways to improve the quality of education for such people while alleviating the barriers they meet.

Participants said there is no need to have special schools for people with disability as Rwanda promotes education for-all, but urged for appropriate infrastructure to be put in place.

Low percentage

Officials said education for people with disabilities stands at one per cent in Rwanda, while the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation put the number at between 3 and 4 per cent.

Janvier Gasana, the deputy director-general of quality and standards in the Rwanda Education Board, said the Ministry of Education is committed to improving the quality of education for people with disability.

“In our poverty reduction strategies, no one will be left behind. This year, we have revised and updated education plan and one of the criteria is special needs education,” said Gasana, citing special needs teachers and infrastructure.

Gasana said teachers are regularly trained in special needs education and that the grassroots people are being consulted regularly for views on how to improve the sector education.

Pia Ahlin, a special needs teacher in Sweden and one of participants at the workshop, said Rwanda has done a lot but still needs to improve.

Source: The New Times

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda: Gakenke puts more efforts into providing better health services

Health officers in the initiation of DHMT

Health officers in the initiation of DHMT

The Ministry of Health has officially initiated District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Gakenke district a team that connects the district, hospitals and health centers for better health services in the district.

This team was initiated on Tuesday the 23rd.april.2013 when the officials from the Ministry of Health explained the operations of this team to the team members. Mathieu Niyonkuru who works in MINISANTE and who is in charge of following up the operations of DHMT in Gakenke district says this team will work on all health projects.

“DHMT will coordinate the health operations in the district that have been neglected. This team will make health services better in the district” he said.

“The Ministry of Health has many projects in the district that is sometimes not known b y the district administration, this team will therefore coordinate these projects as well as implementation of their action plan” Niyonkuru goes on to say.

This team will ensure that projects do not work on the same programs because they will be coordinated and people will participate in these programs.

“I need all local leaders in Gakenke district to get up and sensitize people about their health and how their lives can be compromised for them to seek out health services” says Zephyrin Ntakirutimana the vice mayor for social affairs.

DHMT committee is made up of the vice mayor for social affairs in the district, directors of the hospitals, 2 representatives of health advisors, the district health officer, Mutuelle de santé health insurance officials, the district pharmacist and officers in charge of the fight against AIDS in the district among others.

Source: Ubuzimabwacu

April 28, 2013   No Comments

Kagame’s zero tolerance policy: Controversial “genocide ideology” law to send more Rwandans behind bars

By Jane Nishimwe

Rwanda National Police logo

Rwanda National Police logo

Despite the promise to review the law on “genocide ideology” in January 2011, Rwanda continues to prosecute citizens under the contentious law. In the last three weeks following the genocide commemorations, ORINFOR reports that incidents have escalated resulting in a total of 42 arrests.

Since the beginning of the national commemoration of the Rwandan genocide on April 7th in Rwanda, 42 people are said to have been arrested for “harboring the genocide ideology” and “uttering inflammatory speeches that negate the genocide”, informs the Rwanda Bureau of Information and Broadcasting (ORINFOR).

The Rwandan police, however, insisted it has gathered sufficient evidence for 33 of the arrests for prosecution, while the remaining 11 are being further investigated for “suspicion of inflammatory speech» based on the genocide ideology law of the post-genocide period in Rwanda.

The country’s Commander in Chief, President Kagame called, in his annual commemoration speech, for a collective fight “against those who continue to deny or trivialize the Genocide against the Tutsi whether they are Rwandans or foreigners”. He added that there would be zero tolerance for “those with plans to propagate genocide ideology”.

“Genocide ideology”

Yet, to this day, because of the vagueness of the law at issue, it remains unclear as to what precisely defines and constitutes “genocide ideology”. Article 2 of Low No 18/2009 defines genocide ideology as follows:

“The genocide ideology is an aggregate of thoughts characterized by conduct, speeches, documents and other acts aiming at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate people basing (sic) on ethnic group, origin, nationality, region, color, physical appearance, sex, language, religion or political opinion, committed in normal periods or during war.”

Article 3 describes the characteristics of the crime of genocide ideology:

“The crime of genocide ideology is characterized in any behavior manifested by acts aimed at dehumanizing (sic) a person or a group of persons with the same characteristics in the following manner:

1. Threatening, intimidating, degrading through diffamatory (sic) speeches, documents or actions which aim at propounding wickedness or inciting hatred;

2. Marginalizing, laughing at one’s misfortune, defaming, mocking, boasting, despising, degrading, creating (sic) confusion aiming at negating the genocide which occurred, stirring (sic) up ill feelings, taking revenge, altering testimony or evidence for the genocide which occurred;

3. Killing, planning to kill or attempting to kill someone for purposes of furthering genocide ideology.

Rwanda has been criticized for violating its international human rights obligations and commitments to freedom of expression through this law, notably through its lack of a clear definition on what behavior is punishable and what is not, and the broadness of the terminology used for different conduct in article 3.

Furthermore, Amnesty International, in its 2010 report Safer to stay silent: The chilling effect of Rwanda’s laws on “genocide ideology” and “sectarianism”, found that “many Rwandans, even those with specialized knowledge of Rwandan law including lawyers and human rights workers, were unable to precisely define genocide ideology” and, remarkably, “even judges, the professionals charged with applying the law, noted that the law was broad and abstract”.

Up for review

In January 2011, the international criticism led to the Rwandan government committing itself to review the law at the United Nations Human Rights Council. However, now, two years later, very little has changed. Rwandans continue to be prosecuted based on the vague act, mostly resulting in convictions of opposition members and journalists. They are mostly found guilty of “marginalizing the genocide” and “altering testimony or evidence” of the genocide whenever they refer to the atrocities allegedly committed by the current ruling party RPF.

Notably, one of the charges against Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, President of opposition party FDU-INKINGI, was “genocide ideology and divisionism”. She challenged the rules before Rwanda’s Supreme Court in in March 2012 in which she demanded a constitutional review of the genocide ideology laws because these were “threatening freedom of expression and the rule of law”. However, in October of the same year, the Supreme Court dismissed the case “on grounds of lack of merits” because Victoire “failed to add copies” of certain Rwandan laws mentioned in her case.

Yet in November 2012, shortly after the verdict, Rwandan Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama proposed several amendments to the parliament that would make the law “definitive” by «clearly defining constitutive elements of the offences». The major change in the new draft is that the crime of genocide ideology, is characterized with speeches, documents, threatening words and other public acts aimed at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate a group of people based on tribe, religion, color, sex, among others. Furthermore, the punishments for the manifestation of a genocide ideology now varies between fines of 100,000 Rwandan francs and 9 years in prison, thereby lowering the maximum sentence of life. The characteristics of the crimes at stake were not further amended and the official law has yet to be approved by the parliament.

As such, Amnesty International’s outcry in its report Rwanda: unsafe to speak out: restrictions on freedom of expression in Rwanda published in June 2011 still stands. Indeed, up until today Rwandan authorities are called to «accelerate the review of the genocide ideology law» because through its broad drafting it «criminalizes expression that does not amount to hate speech, including legitimate criticism of the government».

Source: Jambo News

April 26, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda birth control – Is Malthus back?

By Cyiza Clément

Rwandan mothers with their babies

Rwandan mothers with their babies

I was just 6 years old when Malthus appeared in Rwanda, a ghost most people felt without really seeing him. In fact, in 1994, Malthus visited Rwanda leaving behind him around a million of deaths and 19 years later, the reasons for his visit are still there. Will he be coming back?

To answer this question, I will first define who Malthus is and what is meant by the so called “Malthusian model”. Secondly, I will demonstrate that what happened in 1994 can recur in Rwanda if no measures are taken to avoid this. Thirdly, I will provide some examples of Rwanda’s attempts to avoid the return of Malthus and last but not least I will make recommendations as to how the government can improve its strategies.

The Malthus model: The Genocide in Rwanda as an example

Malthus was an English economist who lived in the 18th- 19th century. He is the author of a famous and controversial article on the dynamic of population: An Essay on the Principle of the Population. The Malthusian model can be summarized as follows: the available land limits the population growth vise versa. If the population grows more rapidly than the output, the output per capita reduces. This leads to poverty and a decrease in population growth as a result of limited food supply. As the population decreases, the available land per person increases which raises the output per capita. The better off people were, the faster the population would grow. As the population increases, the available lands decline. Consequently, the population would be so poor that “this poverty would in turn limit population to grow”.

Malthus asserts that this dynamic transition will lead, in the long run, to a level of output per capita characterized by a zero population growth. For him, the decrease of population is done in two ways: the preventive and positive checks. The former refers to solving the overpopulation problem by a moral restriction such as limiting the number of children. The latter implies that nature can solve the overpopulation through other means such as war, famine, genocide etc.

Although the Malthusian model is mostly used to explain the population transition before and during the time of Malthus, this model can still be applied to understand some of the events that occurred in our current societies. As observed by renowned scholars such as Jared Diamond, the Rwandan genocide can be partially explained by the Malthusian model.

It has been argued that ethnic hatred was the only reason for the drastic events of 1994 in Rwanda. However, the erroneous conclusion made by many people is to see hatred as an exogenous justification to explain the tension between the people of Rwanda whilst there could be other possible driving forces that could have led to what happened in Rwanda. In his book “Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed”, Diomand found an instrumental variable which helps to control for endogeneity of hatred when explaining the genocide in Rwanda: the available land. Indeed, on the eve of the tragedy, Rwanda was the most densely populated country in the world with an average of 272 people per square mile, one of the highest in Africa[1]. As an average measure, the distribution of the population varied. Therefore, some areas were more populated than others. For instance, there were about 2.040 people per square in Kanama, a district in North West of Rwanda[2]. The overpopulation and the lack of sufficiently arable land, combined with poor governance were, on the eve of the war, a sufficient environment propitious to Malthus’ theory.

In point of fact, jealousy and hatred started to appear between ethnic groups but also among people in the same group. Although the Rwandan government tried to tackle this problem of overpopulation through a preventive check, the positive check dominated. Catherine Andre and Jean-Philippe Platteau[3] assert that before and during the genocide, some people were killed in order to get their arable land. Even if the victims were mainly Tutsis, no ethnic group was spared.

19 years later, Malthus still threatens Rwanda

As discussed earlier, the overpopulation combined with lack of sufficient arable land is an instrumental variable explaining the hatred among ethnic groups. The question that then arises is; is present-day Rwanda protected from a new outbreak of Malthus? I will demonstrate that it is not.

Before the genocide, the government of Rwanda was aware of the overpopulation. Indeed, Rwandan government prior to 1994 used to run campaigns inciting people to use contraceptive methods[4]. However, this policy did not work well.

After the tragedy, birth control was no longer a priority for the government. Because of the killing of thousands of children during the genocide, birth control was a very sensible topic. Efforts made by the former government to reduce the Rwandan population were abandoned years after the genocide. From 1994 up until now, the Rwandan population has increased by almost 60%, rising from 6.6 to 11 million.

The Rwandan population’s density is still one of the highest in the world: 417 people per square km. In principle, this high population density is not problematic. There are other countries such as The Netherlands and Belgium that have a similar population density. However, with its 11 million people and a growth rate of 2.7% per year, the Rwandan population is expected to double in 25 years. This means that the country will have 834 people per square km[5], a considerable increase compared to 417 per square km today. Rwanda’s population growth is problematic because it cannot be sustained in the medium and long term. For instance, the agricultural sector remains a major sector of employment (90% of the labor forces), and the country lacks natural resources. This surely cannot support the high population density. Moreover, although Rwanda has made remarkable progress economically and significantly improved its human development, inequalities in life expectancy at birth, education and income remain a challenge for the population. When adjusted for inequalities the country’s human development index of 0.434 as achieved in 2012 falls to 0.287, a figure close to where it was in the 80s.[6] In addition, property injustice occurred in the aftermath of the genocide helps to intensify hatred among people. It has been reported by Human Rights that several individuals were falsely charged and convicted of genocide with the objective of depriving them from their properties.[7] Hence, when one compares the land against the overpopulation issue in Rwanda prior and after the 1994 genocide, thinking about Malthus’ return could not be a completely wrong prediction. In case nothing is done to a) curb the demographical growth, b) reduce the poverty and c) restore justice (through a fair distribution of land), the positive check will restore the equilibrium that the Rwandan government would have failed to reestablish by the preventive check.

Failure of some Rwandese preventive checks

The first mistake made by the RPF led government has been to consider that the hatred among ethnic groups has a separate exogenous variable to explain what happened in 1994. A good policy would have been, in my opinion, to seriously tackle the overpopulation problem even if, in that period, birth control was a sensitive issue. However, after realizing that the Rwandan population was growing in an unsustainable way, many actions have been taken.

One of these is sterilization. Whilst my intention here is not to demonstrate whether sterilization is beneficial or not, my critic is rather linked to the way in which such sterilization program has been and continues to be implemented. When the sterilization program was introduced, the government aimed at sterilizing all the poor men. This measure has been extremely unpopular and the program was considered by most Rwandans as immoral. Indeed, forcing sterilization on people based on their income is pure discrimination against the poor and thus, morally inacceptable.

Another additional point that is worth mentioning, though it is not part of the Malthusian model, is the way in which justice has been done after the genocide. This could perhaps be another factor which expands hatred among Rwandans. After the genocide, many Tutsis who had settled in neighboring countries came back to Rwanda. Considering that some of them lacked housing, they started to appropriate themselves the houses and lands of Hutus who had then fled the country after the war. Sometimes, as mentioned above, they would unfairly allege the actual owners of the properties at issue as having participated in committing genocide. These allegations led many Hutus to prison.

Despite such selective yet national commitment, testimonies from victims of the genocide of 1994 heard on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s programme[8] of April 13th 2013, reveal that many have not been compensated for their land confiscated through Rwanda government’s reconstruction programs. Furthermore, the genocide survivors claimed that they have not had justice in regards to their lands that were unfairly taken by people with more influence or given away by the authority in ambiguous processes. In this sense, Rwanda is at a very difficult turning point. On the one hand, restitution of property will require the government to implement policies towards new housing facilities. On the other hand, failing to provide for an effective remedy and thereby restitution, will further nurture hatred among Rwandans.

Conclusion

Malthus still threatens Rwanda. The overpopulation problem has not been solved yet and this can lead to another drama if the Rwandan government does not take the problem seriously.

The Government should, firstly, restore justice by releasing people who were falsely imprisoned in order to avoid nurturing more hatred among Rwandans. The Government should also nationally revise the land distribution. In such distribution, no ethnic group would feel excluded of the society.

Secondly, the government should promote education and development as where there is a higher standard of living, people tend to have fewer children[9]. However, the solution of overpopulation through education takes many years. With an adult literacy rate of 70%, does Rwanda have enough time to wait until all its people are educated in order to reach a sustainable growth rate of population? In the short run, as I have written previously, I am not completely against sterilization. Indeed, if sterilization is the only way to avoid another genocide, it should be used. However, in this case, the decision of sterilizing someone or not should be based on criteria’s other than the financial situation of the person. As an example, it can be based on the maximum number of children that a household can have.

Source: Jambo News

April 26, 2013   No Comments