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Rwanda: conclusions of the High Level Mission

Rwanda: preliminary conclusions of the High Level Mission

Speaking from Kigali, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International urged President Kagame to use Rwanda's influence to end human rights abuses committed by armed groups in eastern DRC.

At the end of the first phase of her high level mission to Rwanda, Uganda and DRC, Ms. Khan said, "While the recent inauguration of a transitional government in Kinshasa has given the world a deceptive sense of progress towards peace, the reality is that the people in eastern DRC continue to suffer horrendous human rights abuses, including summary killings, torture, rape, 'disappearances', and forced displacement. The recruitment and use of child soldiers and sexual violence against women appear to be on the increase."

Amnesty International noted President Kagame's statement of support for the transitional government in Kinshasa as the only interlocutor on all issues relating to the DRC. However, in light of the continued influence and interest in eastern DRC of neighbouring governments, including Rwanda, Amnesty International urged these governments, as well as the transitional government, to put the strongest possible pressure on the armed groups to stop the continued abuse of human rights.

During talks with President Kagame and his ministers, Ms. Khan and her delegation called on Rwanda to play a leadership role in the region to promote human rights and international humanitarian law, address impunity for alleged human rights abuses by the Rwandese army in eastern DRC and uphold the UN arms embargo on eastern DRC. She noted the Rwandese government's statement that investigations are underway on its alleged involvement in the exploitation of natural resources in eastern DRC and called for the findings to be made public.

The delegation visited Goma in eastern DRC, where it met with human rights defenders, survivors of human rights abuses, the governor of North Kivu province, MONUC and UN officials.

In addition to President Kagame and his senior ministers, Ms Khan and her delegation met with representatives of civil society, the judiciary, national institutions and international organizations in Kigali.

With regard to the human rights situation in Rwanda, Amnesty International's Secretary General recognized the efforts of the Rwandese authorities to introduce laws on judicial reform. "The challenge however lies in effective implementation," said Ms. Khan.

"We have had open and frank dialogue with the authorities on a range of issues, including addressing impunity for alleged human rights violations by the security forces, and restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We hope to continue a constructive exchange with the Rwandese government on these issues. The recent inauguration of a newly elected government presents a real window of opportunity for positive change," said Ms. Khan.


The visit to Rwanda was the first leg of a ten-day high level mission to Goma, Kigali, Bunia, Kampala and Kinshasa. The Secretary General of Amnesty International and her delegation leave Kigali today for Kampala, Uganda to continue to lobby regional leaders to end human rights abuses in eastern DRC and in the region as a whole. The delegation will also discuss with the Ugandan government the human rights situation in Uganda.


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