La Tribune Franco-Rwandaise
Reform of the Security Sector
Dictatorships, in Rwanda and elsewhere, rely on the coercive machinery of the state to suppress citizens’ aspirations for democracy. Similarly, President Kagame has turned the military and security institutions of Rwanda into instruments to promote and protect his personal financial and political interests. Rwanda’s security institutions lack transparent management and democratic oversight. President Kagame, his former body guards and personal assistants, controls all the military and security services. The formal leaders of Rwanda’s military structures often have no real power within the institutions they ostensibly lead.
The command of military institutions is composed almost exclusively of members of President Kagame’s inner circle and come from the Tutsi community, resulting in the exclusion of Rwanda’s ethnic majority in the military and security services leadership. Further, as Rwanda’s government is essentially a military government with a façade of a democracy, Rwanda’s military and security institutions do not have any civilian oversight.
President Kagame uses military and security institutions to prevent political groups other than the RPF to organize, recruit campaign or carry out activities to promote their policies and political agenda. Military and security institutions, instead of being used to guarantee the peace and security of the people, are abused and serve as instruments of repression and fear. The military and security institutions of the state enjoy impunity against human rights abuses, as these abuses are committed to keep him in power.
The military justice system of Rwanda does not meet the requirements for an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and bound by the rule of law. The system lacks the capacity and independence to ensure respect for fundamental human rights of both military personnel as well as civilian victims of human rights violations committed by state institutions. Currently, most military judges have no legal training; indeed, a large number of judges in the military justice system have minimum formal education. Military judges and prosecutors have no security of tenure and members of the military personnel are themselves frequently victims of the short-comings of the military justice system.
Further, the military justice system is sometimes used to cover-up and hide crimes committed by military personnel for the purpose of persecuting the regime’s political opponents. Reform of the security system is a pre-requisite for democratization in Rwanda, as in other societies seeking political change.
The Rwanda National Congress advocates far-reaching reforms of the security sector, including the following:
Ensuring democratic civilian (parliamentary as well executive) oversight over military and security institutions
Ensuring collective management of military and security sector institutions through establishment of a National Security Council responsible for determining national security and defense policy; and making appointments and promotions in the military and security services proposing appointments to senior positions in the military and security services that require Parliamentary approval
Ensuring fair representation of all communities in the military and security services, including at all levels of command
Integration into the armed forces of members of exiled armed groups who are not responsible for, or linked to, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or other gross human rights violations
Dismantling the informal security networks that are used by the current regime to frustrate the exercise of fundamental freedoms Screening and removing persons responsible for gross human rights abuses from the Rwanda Defense Forces Strict prohibition of military, police and security services involvement in partisan politics Prohibition of the army and security services from carrying out law enforcement functions, other than in exceptional circumstances approved by Parliament
Professionalizing the military justice system to ensure that judges are independent, have the professional capacity to administer the law and that they respect fundamental human rights in performing their functions; providing for appeals to civilian courts for serious cases tried by military courts, to ensure the military does not cover-up human rights violations by its members; and abolishing military jurisdiction over civilians
Downsizing of the army to a level that the country can afford and is commensurate with rational security and defense needs
Establishing Parliamentary control over the declaration of war.
Extract from RNC Policy document - Complet 2017 feb final