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By Khalifa Hemed
Published February 17, 2021

Rwanda’s Travel & Tourism story is one of a remarkable transformation.United Nations member countries have faulted Rwanda on its human rights record.

Speaking during the central African country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, the countries called on Rwanda to end torture and ill-treatment, and investigate cases of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and death in custody.

They urged Rwanda to allow journalists and activists to work independently and nongovernmental organizations to register, and protect freedom of expression, including by reforming its media law and the penal code.

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“The strong criticism of Rwanda from countries across the world shows the international community’s concern about the human rights crisis in Rwanda,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s important for these countries to follow up with the Rwandan government directly to press it to take concrete measures to adopt their recommendations.”

Established in 2006, the UPR involves a comprehensive review of the human rights records of all UN member states by other members in a rotation every five years. Local and international organizations, as well as the country under review, can contribute reports to inform the review process.

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Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights WatchFollowing each review, a group of three countries collaborates with the country under review and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce an “outcome report” that includes the recommendations and the country’s responses. The Human Rights Council will adopt the outcome report at its June 2021 session.

During its January 2021 review, Rwanda received 284 recommendations from 99 countries. It accepted 160 recommendations, noted 75, and stated that an additional 49 did not enjoy their support.

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“Rwandan authorities need to go beyond empty promises and deflection to address the country’s human rights problems,” Mudge said. “To show it is willing to end impunity, the government should ensure credible, transparent investigations resulting in prosecutions of those responsible for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary and unlawful detentions. Until this happens, other governments should step up the pressure.”

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