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Advance questions and statement to Rwanda

Advance questions:

  1. Norway welcomes progress made in terms of policies and legislation on freedom of expression, association, media and protection of human rights defenders. How is Rwanda translating its commitments into practical realities in these areas?
  2. We are concerned that NGO legislation is still restrictive and burdensome. How will Rwanda address the concerns raised by civil society in this regard?
  3. The 2008 genocide ideology law is being revised. Will the revision bring the law in line with international standards on the definition of crime and make sure that the law is not used to criminalize legitimate political activities?

Statement:

Mr President, 

We welcome the delegation from Rwanda.

Rwanda’s efforts over the past two decades to recover from war and genocide have produced impressive results, with remarkable economic and social progress. Norway also welcomes Rwanda’s acceptance of most recommendations at the 2011 review, including those on civil and political rights.

We commend the precedence of international human rights over domestic laws and that domestic legislation guarantees the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Norway welcomes progress made in terms of policies and legislation on areas such as freedom of expression, association, media and protection of human rights defenders.

However, we still have concerns about the interpretation and actual implementation of legislation in these fields.

We recommend that Rwanda intensifies the process of translating its commitments into practical progress on democratization, broadening political space and the protection of human rights defenders. The period leading up to the 2017 elections represents a unique opportunity to open up political space and ensure a level playing field for all Rwandans alike.

New media laws passed in 2013 grant greater press freedom but do not seem to have lead to a more open and diverse media.  We are concerned that journalists may be pressured to disclose sources and recommend that measures be taken to protect journalists from harassment.

We are concerned that NGO legislation is still too restrictive and burdensome. We recommend that Rwanda guarantee a vibrant civil society and the independence of NGOs by revising laws affecting their registration and operations.

Rwanda in 2011 accepted recommendations to revise the genocide ideology law, bringing the definition of the crime in line with international standards. Finally, we recommend that the genocide ideology law not be used to impede the activities of opposition parties, opposition and civil society.