By David Himbara
On January 25, 2021, the UK government delivered a statement regarding Britain’s concerns about human rights violations in Rwanda. The timing of the strongly-worded statement is critical. Rwanda is scheduled to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on the week of June 21, 2021, which was to have been held in Kigali in June 2020 but was postponed because of COVID19. In the statement about human rights abuses in Rwanda, the UK reminds the Rwanda government that “as a member of the Commonwealth, and future Chair-in-Office, we urge Rwanda to model Commonwealth values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.” The UK government makes the following three recommendations to Rwanda:
1. “Conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture, and bring perpetrators to justice.
2. Protect and enable journalists to work freely, without fear of retribution, and ensure that state authorities comply with the Access to Information law.
3. Screen, identify and provide support to trafficking victims, including those held in Government transit centres.”