AI: Rwanda military intelligence unlawfully detaining, torturing civilians

[JURIST] Rwandan citizens are being subject to unlawful detention, enforced disappearances and torture at the hands of the country's military intelligence department, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF; press release] Monday. "Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy: Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence" documents 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment over two years at Camp Kami military camp and in safe houses in the capital city of Kigali. Included are detailed accounts of serious beatings, electric shocks and sensory deprivation to force confessions during interrogations. The report does note the government's progress over the last decade in improving prison conditions under the authority of the Rwanda Correctional Service but points out that such progress is undermined by the parallel detention system run by the military and points to the military intelligence department known as J2 for most of the forced disappearances and maltreatment of detainees. Some detainees reported being tortured and coerced to confess to charges of threatening national security and claimed that judges have asked them to prove torture in court instead of complying with international law and ordering that such allegations be investigated. AI called on the Rwandan government to ensure that civilians are only detained in official prison facilities and that all detainees, including those held by the military, receive medical care and access to counsel while in detention. The report further urges the government to amend certain provisions of its internal criminal code and to ratify and adopt various international treaties and protocols on human rights abuses and calls on foreign governments to suspend any financial support to institutions or security forces involved in human rights violations.

In August the International Criminal Court [official website] received requests to investigate [JURIST report] Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official profile] for backing armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder]. Rwandan and Congolese advocacy groups opposed to Kagame's rule have alleged that the Rwandan leader is guilty of war crimes for helping to create and arm rebel groups in eastern DRC including M23, which has been conducting a mutiny in North Kivu Province under the leadership of a particularly notorious group of human rights violators. The calls for an ICC investigation follow the release of a UN report detailing investigations since late 2011 that revealed substantial evidence [JURIST report] that the Rwandan government helped create the rebel groups and supplied them with weapons, armor and recruits, including children. In June UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] estimated that the armed conflict between the DRC government and the M23 movement has displaced around 218,000 people [JURIST report] from their homes since April, specifically mentioning five M23 leaders and describing them as the "worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter."

 

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