Rwandan Human Rights Organization, ADL, Under Threat
Kigali – In an article published today under the title “NGO exposed after infighting”, The New Times, mouthpiece of Paul Kagame’s ruling party RPF, labels the Rwandan Human Rights Organization ADL as a “‘negationnists’ network“. For anybody who knows Rwanda, this is an accusation which has to be taken seriously.
ADL stands for Association Rwandaise pour la défense des Droits de la personne et des Libertés publiques.
These accusations reveal how fragile the ADL is now. It is pointed out that the ADL is not properly registered and that its temporary authorization to operate expires in September this year. What does that mean?
Here is what The New Times writes about ADL.
An imminent ‘negationists’ network’ operating in Rwanda suspected of coordinating Genocide convicts with fugitives abroad and posturing as a local Human Rights organization, has been exposed by its members after a fall out.
Rwandan Association for the Defence of People’s Rights and Public Liberties (ADL) was formed in 1991 and receives funding from some groups in France.
Its activities involve conducting ‘shaddy’ surveys on Genocide convicts to come up with reports that strongly criticize and abuse government policies.
Recently, members of ADL fell out over management of funds which led to some of them ganging up against the association’s chairperson, Cassien Kasire, and deposing him because he questioned how money was spent.
“It is an extremely negative association operating with outside negative groups against the government and posing as a human rights organization,” Kasire said in an interview with The Sunday Times.
Kasire has been heading the association for the last three years.
“Before I joined this association, people tried to close it and actually there were plans to plot for its closure, but I refused. My aim was to join it and change the radicals in the association,” said the embattled Kasire.
“Things turned out to be different when I got there. I realized that I was working with a team of extremists that could not easily be changed.”
The association recently released a report on Local Government Performance Contracts and strongly criticized the whole practice.
The report, a copy of which The Sunday Times has obtained, brands the contracts as a ‘slavery’ (uburetwa)
According to Kasire; “When I received a copy of the report I realized that the team that had compiled it had termed the whole exercise as slavery. I immediately called for an executive committee meeting and asked them to change the wording.”
“During the meeting, my deputy, Leonard Ngerageze, stood up in protest and accused me of having a double mission in the association claiming that I am taking the association to the RPF (party).”
“I told him (Ngerageze) that the aim of the association is not to destroy the country but to help in its construction through promoting human rights,” he added.
He said that the meeting of the Executive Committee ended without a consensus.
The association had received Rwf 5 million from the Great Lakes Human Rights body (LDGL) to conduct the survey.
Another organisation, Forum d’Aide Juridique (FAJ) according to Kasire, recently gave the association Rwf 28 million to conduct a survey on the situation of prisons in the country.
He said that members of the association were divided into different groups to conduct the survey.
“I learnt that Leopold Hakizimana who was working on Kibungo prison was actually doing something different from what we had agreed on;”
“He was gathering information from prisoners, manipulating it and sending reports to France through a friend called André Barthélemy who heads an association called AGIR Ensemble that is a strong critic of Gacaca,” said Kasire.
AGIR Ensemble released radical reports after the Nyamirambo Gacaca court sentenced a human rights activist, Francois Xavier Byuma, to 19 years in jail for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Barthélemy is said to be Hakizimana’s brother-in-law-to. Kasire claims that Hakizimana used to send information from prisons to his sister who would pass on the information to the husband.
“I had to stop Hakizimana by removing him from the surveying team. He was working with Beata Uwimpambere who strongly protested on behalf of her colleague. This was a clear indication that there was something fishy going on,” said Kasire.
He added that later, on February 20, Kasire called for a General Assembly to review an audit report on how funds meant for the prison survey were used.
“During the meeting, members of the committee admitted that they had misused the funds and I ordered them to refund the money.
My deputy, Ngerageze acknowledged that he embezzled about Rwf 210,000 but after this meeting, I was surprised to receive a text message from Ngerageze calling for an extra-ordinary meeting,” said Kasire.
He added that he never attended the meeting since it was not important for him and this is the same meeting that resolved to suspend him.
“The committee is organizing a general assembly to lobby for my eviction and I insist the intentions of these people are not promoting and defending human rights. Authorities should investigate this association,” said Kasire.
The Sunday Times learnt that ADL is currently not registered and still uses documents they acquired in 1991.
Recently, it acquired a temporary document from Nyarugenge District which will expire in September this year.
When contacted, Ngerageze refuted the allegations and instead blamed Kasire for being a dictator and ‘the reason why the association was failing’.
“I am surprised he is the one making those claims. He endorsed the performance contract report himself,” Ngerageze said.
“We sent him the report and asked him to make changes which he did not do,” Ngerageze charged.
He also refuted claims that he embezzled and diverted funds of the association.
“I have proof that all the funds were properly used. He should produce evidence against me because the audit report clearly shows how we effectively used the money,” he said.
“I personally don’t find any problem with talking to prisoners. We sought permission and got it. This man has a problem that we could not tolerate.”
Ngerageze however could not clearly state the differences between him, the committee and Kasire.
He instead claimed that Kasire is a dictator and that he was not going to tolerate him.