Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring - Appendix I to Chapter XI: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) No. 5 Between HRFOR and UNHCR Rwanda on Returnee Monitoring


Guiding Principles

1.0 Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rwanda.

1.1 Recalling the Note of Cooperation (the Note) between UNHCR and HRFOR signed in Kigali on September 29, 1995, formalizing already existing field cooperation between the two agencies in Rwanda in accordance with their respective mandates;

1.2 Recalling in particular Articles 8 through 18 of the Note providing, inter alia, the outlines of returnee monitoring, priorities of the two agencies and scope of cooperation relevant thereto;

1.3 Recalling also the MOU on Exchange of Information and the MOU on Human Rights Education Projects between HRFOR and UNHCR signed in Kigali on 2 and 3 May, 1996 respectively, in partial implementation of commitments undertaken in the Note;

1.4 Decide, in the spirit of efficiency and optimum use of resources in areas of mutual concern, to further cooperate and coordinate their returnee monitoring activities through a division of tasks and responsibilities at field level.

1.5 This MOU does not in any way limit the scope of relevant Articles agreed upon in the Note and the two MOUs referred to above. Nor does it prevent the two agencies from practically, or through additional agreement, go beyond the present MOU and further coordinate their returnee monitoring activities.

1.6 In the event of change or modification of mandate of HRFOR, or developments affecting the level of its personnel in Rwanda or the focus of its activities, each agency may request a modification or arrangements agreed in this MOU.

Mandates of each Agency

2.0 It is mutually accepted that UNHCR is the leading agency for repatriation of refugees and has a legitimate concern for the consequences of return. The monitoring of returnees is part of its mandate. It is equally recognized that HRFOR had a lead role in the promotion and protection of human rights and in the investigation of the human rights situation in Rwanda.

2.1 As both agencies have common concerns in returnees, division of monitoring tasks is undertaken in the interest of avoiding duplication and creating a climate for respect of the work undertaken by the two agencies. Monitoring tasks will be divided and shared on the basis of the mandates of each agency.

2.1.1 UNHCR monitors the fulfilment of assurances given by the Rwandese Government as to the safety, treatment in accordance with human rights, and humanitarian standards of Rwandese refugees during their repatriation and upon return to their home areas ("refugee returnee monitoring").

2.1.2 HRFOR monitors the ongoing human rights situation, and through their presence, helps redress existing problems and prevent possible human rights violations from occurring. In defining mutual concerns HRFOR remains particularly focused on vulnerable groups. of which returnees is one among other groups, including genocide survivors, and witnesses to crimes against humanity.

Specific Areas of Returnee Monitoring of Mutual Concern

3.0 UNHCR will monitor returnees at entry points, transit centres and way-stations as well as convoys, registrations and issues arising out of registration. HRFOR will also monitor these places upon request from UNHCR, or in the event that there are widespread human rights violations. HRFOR will appoint a Human Rights Officer with the duty to liaise with UNHCR in the implementation of this item.

3.1 UNHCR will monitor returnees in their communes in partnership with HRFOR. The monitoring will be conducted according to mutually agreed procedures.

3.2 UNHCR and HRFOR have both the right and responsibility to obtain information on the situation of returnees arrested and detained, including through independent visits to cachots and detention centres. However, with the exception of occasional joint or independent visits, UNHCR will rely on HRFOR's monitoring of cachots and detention centres to be systematically informed about conditions of returnees so held. HRFOR will assume primary responsibility for the collection of information on the total detainee population, including returnees, and sharing it with UNHCR. UNHCR will logistically assist HRFOR for that purpose. These arrangements will be implemented at each prefecture and at the national level.

3.3 At the prefectural, UNHCR and HRFOR, coordinated through their respective heads of office and team leaders, will divide the task of monitoring returnees as follows: UNHCR agrees to share returnee registration information with HRFOR, and in regular meetings between the agencies the geographical division of monitoring will be decided. In this way duplication of effort can be avoided and the specific mandates of each agency can be best addressed.

3.4 The results of such monitoring will be shared through appropriate means regularly with the other agency, i.e. completed monitoring forms will be made available for review, analysis, reporting and intervention at the field level, if necessary.

3.5 A series of workshops will be arranged for UNHCR Protection Officers and HRFOR Field Officers together to discuss monitoring methodologies.

3.6 Reintegration of returnees in the community of origin/return is very much influenced by the situation and attitude of the local population, including old caseload and survivors of the genocide, the above arrangements should allow for coordinated monitoring and information-sharing with respect to these groups.

Land and Property Issues

4.0 Issues related to land and property occupancy and procedures of reclaiming them by returnee owners are of priority concern to UNHCR and relevant to HRFOR. Monitoring and follow-up of information sharing should pay special attention to trends in each commune regarding the pattern of restitution of land, time frame, implications for those returnees pursuing their claims, availability or absence of alternative solutions, including developments on land allocation for old caseload and survivors of the genocide. UNHCR will continue to help authorities solve the problem of property occupation though the shelter programme and HRFOR will rely on UNHCR to follow-up on individual cases with problems of property. HRFOR will continue to monitor property issues with regard to identifying and investigating human rights violations.

Serious Violations of Human Rights

5.0 UNHCR and HRFOR will share, without undue delay, results of monitoring on serious violations of human rights involving returnees.

5.1. UNHCR will on a regular basis draw upon the investigative capacity and experience of HRFOR to follow-up on violations of returnee human rights, particularly incidents involving arrest, detention, serious violence, killings, torture and the disappearance of returnees. Mechanisms of coordinated monitoring and information sharing will be discussed in regular meetings of the two agencies at field level.

Intervention on Behalf of Returnees

6.0 HRFOR and UNHCR each may decide to make independent representations on behalf of returnees in pursuit of their responsibilities. However, in the interest of better results, and in order to sensitize the authorities to the overlapping mandates of the two agencies, UNHCR and HRFOR agree to make joint representation at various levels as frequently as deemed feasible and appropriate.

Conflict Resolution

Any dispute arising from the interpretation or implementation of this MOU will be resolved by the parties through negotiations in the spirit of United Nations inter-agency coordination and cooperation.

Done at Kigali, 6 December 1996

W.R. Urasa Javier Zuñiga

Representative Chief

UNHCR Kigali-Rwanda HRFOR Rwanda


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