Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
Rwanda is a constitutional republic dominated by a strong presidency. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) leads a coalition that includes six smaller parties. In August 2010 voters elected President Paul Kagame to a second seven-year term with 93 percent of the vote. Three other registered political parties participated in elections. Senate elections took place in September 2011, with RPF candidates winning the majority of seats by wide margins. International observers reported the senate elections met generally recognized standards of free and fair elections in most respects but noted concerns regarding the independence of voters’ decisions. State security forces (SSF) generally reported to civilian authorities, although there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.
The most important human rights problems in the country remained the government’s targeting of journalists, political opponents, and human rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; restrictions on civil liberties; and support of rebel groups in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Other major human rights problems included arbitrary or unlawful killings, both within the country and abroad; disappearances; torture; harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest; prolonged pretrial detention; executive interference in the judiciary; and government infringement on citizens’ privacy rights. The government restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and to a lesser extent, religion. Security for refugees and asylum seekers was inadequate. Corruption was a problem, and the government restricted and harassed local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Violence and discrimination against women and children occurred, including the recruitment by the M23 armed group of Rwandan and refugee minors as child soldiers. There was a small but growing incidence of trafficking in persons. Discrimination and occasional violence against persons with disabilities and the Twa minority occurred. The government restricted labor rights, and forced labor, including by children, and child labor were problems.
The government generally took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere, but impunity involving civilian officials and SSF was a problem.
During the year the government provided material, logistical, and strategic support to the M23 armed group in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which committed summary executions and forcibly recruited adults and minors. The government strongly denied providing any support to the M23. SSF remained complicit in the illegal smuggling of conflict minerals from the DRC.