RWANDA: Detention in a place called “Kwa Kabuga” as a “Cleaning” of Kigali City before a big meeting!

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

According to Humana Right Watch (HRW), the authorities of Kigali rounded up and detained many people, in a place called “Kwa Kabuga” as a measure to “clean up” the City of Kigali, before a large meeting, which later postponed sine die.

A report published this Monday, September 27, 2021, by HRW said those arrested included street children, street vendors, prostitutes, homosexuals and others of different genders. HRW indicated that it spoke to 17 people detained at “Kwa Kabuga” in Gikondo for weeks, shortly before the Commonwealth Meeting (Commonly CHOGM), which is due to be held in June 2021 and which has been postponed sine die.

Rwandan government spokeswoman said that HRW’s allegations are false and fabricated. The detainees said they were in overcrowded rooms without basic amenities such as water and adequate food, and that they were “repeatedly beaten”. They also said that none of them have been accused or charged in the usual way, without being brought to justice or the assisted by a lawyer. 

Just last year, Bosenibamwe Aimé, then Director General of national Rehabilitation Service, declared that the Centre is not a prison rather a transit centre for 72 hours.

HRW reports that an 18-year-old street vendor detained for two weeks with her nine-month-old baby said: “They told us The Government wanted to clean up the town because of the Commonwealth Meeting (CHOGM). They told us that they would lock us up until the end of the meeting”. The centre is known as “Kwa Kabuga”, at Gikondo, in Kigali town.

HRW’s report states that after the adjournment of the CHOGM, the detainees were then released.

Lewis Mudge, HRW representative, Central Africa, said: “The way Rwanda turns Kigali into a conference hub, often involves more abuses of people, poor than other inhabitants”. According to HRW, the similar “Cleaning” of the roads of Kigali took place in 2016 before the General Assembly of Africa Union”. “Violence against disadvantaged people simply because the authorities consider they tarnish the country’s image is detrimental to human immunity”, Mudge said  

The allegations were fabricated

Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo tweetered that HRW’s report was “an attempt to disrupt the level of the economy Rwanda reached, by using fabricated allegations”. Ms Makolo said such “manipulation will not hold up because the allegations are not true”. She continues: “Rwanda does not discriminate against sex or choice related to sex, neither in law, nor in politics, or in anyway in practical life”.

Last year, Bosenibamwe –who died in the middle of the year- told the BBC that there are laws defining who must be ratified in Gikondo Centre: “The first category is made up of vagrants and drug addicts, the second is that of thieves, the third is that of homeless and the fourth category is that of people with inappropriate behaviour and illegal traders”, he said. 

At the time, he insisted that no one spend more than 72 hours there.