Rwanda Information Portal

France arrests Rwandan genocide suspect

A Genocide fugitive wanted by the authorities in Kigali was yesterday arrested in the French city of Toulouse over his alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Tite Barahira, a former leader of Commune Kabarondo (1977-1986) in eastern Rwanda, is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, among other crimes.

Barahira, who disguised himself by changing his name to Barahirwa, was subject to investigation since 2011.

Rwanda had issued an arrest warrant for his alleged role in the Genocide that claimed more than a million lives.

Barahira’s arrest came just after a French court ordered that Pascal Simbikangwa, another Genocide suspect on French soil, be put on trial there.

Source: The New Times

April 3, 2013   No Comments

Law enforcers in Rwanda gear up to act on public smoking ban

A man is engulfed in cigarette fumes in a public place

A man is engulfed in cigarette fumes in a public place

Apart from stressing the ban on public smoking, the soon-to-be promulgated law governing tobacco control is among other things clearly against vices like the use of children in tobacco and tobacco products business.

Police Spokesperson Theos Badege, on Tuesday, told The New Times that once promulgated “it will be very important for the public, including bar owners and clientele, to be acquainted with its entire content” as he thinks it will as well be a “very useful and informative law.”

Badege said: “Of course, for us, as ever, we shall enforce the law. There are provisions, already in the Penal Code that people must be aware of and, apart from that, there will be cases where people seek our help, at whatever time their rights might be violated and we, as expected, will always be at the ready to help.”

The law was passed by Parliament in November last year and duly forwarded to the Office of the President in February, meaning it could be promulgated any time from now.

In a 2004 study, the British Medical Journal said the risks of passive smoking could be twice as bad as previously feared.

Researchers from London’s St George’s Medical School and the Royal Free Hospital found passive smoking increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 50-60 per cent.

Smoking lounges:

Public places will be required to have a smoking area, with clear notices displayed in Kinyarwanda, English and French stating that smoking is only permitted in that area.

The law will require premise owners or any person offended by a smoker anywhere other than in a designated smoking area to request the offender to cease and show to them a designated smoking area, or call in security personnel.

Any free distribution of tobacco products with intent of advertising them is forbidden.

Violators of the provisions relating to the advertising of tobacco and tobacco products shall be liable to a fine equal to 100 per cent of the value of such advertising. In case where there will be a repeated or habitual relapse of the offence, the fine shall be doubled.

The World Health Organisation estimates that at least 50 per cent of children worldwide are exposed to respiratory infections at home. Tobacco contains more than 400 toxic disease-causing substances.

Article 219 of the Penal Code states that anyone who offers or sells alcoholic beverages or tobacco to a child or involves a child in the sale of such products shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of at least three months but less than six months and a fine of Rwf300,000 to Rwf1,000,000, or one of these penalties.

“These penalties shall also apply to any person who encourages a child to drink alcoholic beverages or to smoke or to go to bars,” reads part of the clause.

Article 428 partly states that any person who unlawfully smokes in public and in any other place where many people gather; shall be liable to a fine of Rwf10,000 to Rwf50,000.

Public’s appeal:

Even with days only remaining for the law to be ratified, the public remains on the edge as non-smokers, who have borne the brunt of passive smoking, will not wait to see law enforcement in action.

Hilary Butera, a Kigali resident, said: “Smoking in public is an uncouth behaviour I can’t tolerate. I wish the law takes its course very soon.”

“Nothing is impossible in an organised and elite society – if the plastic bag law has been adhered to, when we were all end users, why not the smoking law which only targets a few smokers? They will get ashamed because they will look uncivilised whenever they are seen puffing in public,” Butera added, indicating he trusts law enforcement will succeed in the effort.

Jane Mwangi, a Kenyan residing in Kigali, said: “My view is primarily from domestic smoking, where either of the parents is an active smoker. I was a passive smoker because of my dad and was diagnosed with stomach ulcers at the age of 14.”

“The queerest thing is that he has never suffered from any visible tobacco-related infection.”

Source: The New Times

April 3, 2013   No Comments

US foundation faults UN report on Congo

The UN Group of Experts report which accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels was a result of a process that violated the UN mandate by failing to cooperate with regional governments and UN agencies, an assessment of the report by an influential US family foundation has concluded.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, an American private family foundation that has invested in DRC and the Great Lakes region since 1999, commissioned an evaluation of a series of UN Group of Experts (GoE’s) special reports on DR Congo over the last few years.

It concluded that the experts’ 2012 report was particularly biased against Rwanda and lacked essential diplomacy to reach recommendations that would have helped to advance regional peace and stability.

“While prior GoE reports focused on a broader range of interactions, the 2012 Final Report reads as a prosecution of Rwanda, and, to a lesser extent Uganda, largely ignoring significant factors that contributed to unrest in the DRC,” a report from the Foundation’s assessment, published on Monday, reads in the part.

The assessment details how the experts ignored issues that underscore the context of instability in eastern DRC such as the presence of FDLR rebels, the lack of effective governance in eastern DRC, and the country’s corrupt military of FARDC.

“It is critical that policy-makers read the 2012 GoE reports in the context of the GoE’s prior reports and data on other key topics when it comes to understanding the sources and solutions to conflict in DRC. Prior reports highlight other key factors contributing to conflict in the region,” the Foundation argues.

The evaluation described how prior UN GoE’s reports, which investigated other issues in eastern DRC on a range of topics such as exploitation of minerals and the security situation, had been done in a diplomatic way and secured the cooperation of regional governments both during the research period and afterwards.

Foundation wary

The Foundation castigated policymakers who relied on the November 2012 report to suspend aid to Rwanda without a clue on how it “focused on demonstrating Rwanda’s and Uganda’s involvement in M23 and not the multiple, broader contributing factors to instability in the region.”

The Foundation said it is wary the deterioration of cooperation and diplomacy that preceded the 2012 Final Report where governments of Rwanda and Uganda reacted ‘angrily’ as the experts adopted an accusing stance in violation of the UN mandate, which requires the experts to use diplomacy and cooperation for their work.

In the evaluation report, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation said it was frustrated with the lack of cooperation and diplomacy reflected in the experts’ November 2012 report, and the rush “punitive response” that bilateral donors applied on Rwanda.

It has also urged the current GoE to ensure that its future reports meet “the high standards of cooperation” previously set by the UN, if it is to rely on their reports to inform its grant-making decisions.

The discredited GoE report was compiled by a team headed by Steve Hege, and was castigated by several parties conversant with the affairs of the region, especially on its unfounded allegations on Rwanda’s support of the rebel movement.

This questions the credibility of the experts, especially following a series of publications that came to light in which Hege openly plays advocate for militia FDLR.

Source: The New Times

April 3, 2013   No Comments