COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
6-24 March 2000
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9
OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Rwanda,
submitted as one document (CERD/C/335/Add.1), at its 1385th and 1386th
meetings (CERD/C/SR.1385 and 1386), held on 14 and 15 March 2000. At
its 1397th meeting, held on 23 March 2000, it adopted the following
2. The Committee welcomes
the reports submitted by the State party and the additional oral and
written information provided by the delegation as a constructive response
to the questions asked by the Committee members. The Committee also
welcomes the opportunity thus offered to renew its dialogue with the
State party within the framework of the regular reporting procedure.
3. The Committee notes that
despite the long period which has elapsed since the examination of the
State party's previous report in 1988 and the enormous tragedies which
have since occurred in Rwanda, the report focuses primarily on the legislative
and practical steps taken by the State party to eliminate institutionalized
and other forms of racial discrimination, but contains little information
on racially discriminatory acts which have been committed.
B. Factors and difficulties
impeding implementation of the Convention
4. The Committee bears in
mind the events of 1994 and thereafter, involving genocide and the massive
loss of life, and recognizes the difficulty for the population of the
State party to overcome this recent history. The Committee is aware
that the genocide continues to affect most aspects of life in the State
party. The Committee also recognizes the problems posed by the attacks
of armed opposition groups from outside its territory since 1994.
5. The Committee further
notes that State financial and material resources were reduced to a
minimum by acts of destruction and theft during the armed conflicts
in 1994. While noting the progress made by the State party in addressing
some of the economic problems facing the country, in particular reducing
the level of inflation, the Committee is aware that the continuing economic
difficulties in the State party, its heavy dependence upon scarce international
assistance, and the limited resources available to the State party are
significant obstacles to the full implementation of the Convention in
C. Positive aspects
6. The Committee commends
the State party for its significant progress in addressing institutional
forms of discrimination. The Committee notes with satisfaction the establishment
of an independent National Human Rights Commission with a mandate to
monitor and promote respect for human rights and to monitor how State
institutions with responsibility for the implementation and protection
of human rights, including those covered by the Convention, are managed.
7. The Committee also notes
the efforts made by the State party to remove all references to ethnic
distinctions from official texts and speeches, as well as from identity
cards. In addition, the Committee notes the State party's efforts to
prevent impunity for perpetrators of genocide and other human rights
violations and to bring those most responsible for such acts to justice.
The Committee is encouraged by the State party's efforts to rehabilitate
the judicial system, including through the training of judicial and
law enforcement officials.
8. The Committee welcomes
the efforts made by the State party to improve the economic and social
rights of the people, notably through the provision of housing facilities.
9. The Committee commends
the State party for its efforts to receive refugees from neighbouring
D. Concerns and recommendations
10. The Committee remains
concerned that impunity prevails, notably in some cases involving unlawful
acts committed by members of the security forces. The Committee recommends
to the State party to continue addressing impunity through the judicial
process and urges the State party to make additional efforts to respond
adequately to and prevent unlawful acts committed by members of the
military or civilian authorities.
11. The Committee notes
that given the nature of the recent genocide, the majority of the large
number of imprisoned or detained persons belong to the Hutu ethnic group.
The Committee expresses its concern over the poor conditions of detention
and imprisonment and the mortality rate of detained and imprisoned persons.
The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to
respect minimum standards of detention.
12. The Committee recognizes
the difficulties faced by the State party in the administration of justice
and acknowledges the State party's efforts to identify practical methods
to strengthen judicial procedures, including through the use of customary
law practices. It urges the State party to take further measures to
reduce periods of pre-trial detention and to ensure that the right to
equal treatment before the law, as defined in article 5 (a) of the Convention,
is respected in national and customary judicial proceedings.
13. The Committee notes
the State party's past efforts to introduce "screening" practices, such
as the Commissions de Triage, as an additional means of providing
an early release from detention of those persons against whom there
is little recorded evidence of criminal offences. The Committee recommends
to the State party to recommence such efforts and to ensure that the
population in general is well informed of these procedures so that those
persons who are released are able to reintegrate into their communities
in safety. The Committee further recommends that amnesty should be extended
to lesser offenders who confess their crimes.
14. The Committee notes
with satisfaction that the State party has resumed its cooperation with
the International Tribunal for Rwanda and recommends to the State party
to assist and to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.
15. While noting that the
State party's measures to relocate large groups of the population to
semi-urban locations are intended to improve access to water, health
and other services, the Committee is concerned about reports of forced
relocations and that some relocated persons do not have access to adequate
housing. The Committee recommends to the State party to ensure that
all relocations are on a non-discriminatory basis and that relocated
persons enjoy, without discrimination, the rights listed in article
5 of the Convention.
16. The Committee recognizes
the State party's efforts to establish a specialized centre for juveniles
accused of participating in the genocide, but remains concerned at the
detrimental effect upon children of long periods of detention. While
taking into consideration the very serious and tragic acts of which
these juveniles are accused, the Committee nevertheless recommends that
the State party make every effort to reintegrate such juveniles into
the community as soon as is possible.
17. The Committee is concerned
about recent reports on the setting up of village-based local defence
forces, armed with firearms and machetes, receiving very limited training
and which include among their recruits very young persons. The Committee
recommends to the State party to avoid any action which might lead to
new outbursts of ethnic violence, especially violence involving juveniles.
18. Recalling its decisions
on Rwanda under its early warning and urgent action procedures, notably
its decisions 5 (53) of 19 August 1998 and 3 (54) of 19 March 1999,
the Committee is further concerned by reports of the intimidation of
judicial authorities seeking to investigate and address human rights
violations committed since 1994 against ethnic Hutus.
19. The Committee calls
upon the State party to make additional efforts to investigate allegations
of serious ethnic violence and humanitarian law violations that may
have been committed and to address these acts through the judicial process,
while maintaining full respect for the relevant human rights of accused
and detained persons and ensuring that judicial officials are able to
conduct their work free from intimidation or other pressure.
20. The State party is invited,
in its next report, to provide further information on the following
issues: (a) actions taken in respect of human rights to improve the
mutual understanding of all members of the population; (b) further actions
taken to address human rights violations stemming from discriminatory
treatment; and (c) actions taken, and results achieved, by the National
Human Rights Commission.
21. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of States Parties to the Convention.
22. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention, and some members of the Committee request that the
possibility of making the declaration be considered.
23. The Committee recommends
that the State party's reports be made readily available to the public
from the time they are submitted and that the Committee's observations
on them be similarly publicized.
24. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 16 May 2000, be
an updating report and that it address the points raised in the present