Ref. :  000041357
Date :  2017-10-10
Language :  English
Home Page / The whole website
fr / es / de / po / en

Rwanda: Unlawful Military Detention, Torture

Beatings, Asphyxiations, Electric Shocks, Mock Executions to Extract Confessions

Author :  Human Rights Watch

Rwanda’s military has routinely unlawfully detained and tortured detainees with beatings, asphyxiations, mock executions, and electric shocks, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.


The 91-page report, “‘We Will Force You to Confess’: Torture and Unlawful Military Detention in Rwanda,” documents unlawful detention in military camps and widespread and systematic torture by the military. Human Rights Watch found that judges and prosecutors ignored complaints from current and former detainees about the unlawful detention and ill-treatment, creating an environment of total impunity. Rwandan authorities and United Nations bodies should investigate immediately.

“Research over a number of years demonstrates that military officials in Rwanda can use torture whenever they please,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Impunity for unlawful detention and the systematic use of torture has led many victims to give up all hope for justice.”

Human Rights Watch has confirmed 104 cases of people who were illegally detained, and in many cases tortured or ill-treated, in Rwandan military detention centers between 2010 and 2016. The total number is most likely much higher, due to the secret nature of the abuses and many former detainees’ fear of reprisals. Human Rights Watch has received several credible reports of cases in 2017, indicating that these violations have continued.

Most victims appear to have been detained on suspicion of being members of, or working with, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda, FDLR). Some members of the predominantly Rwandan Hutu armed opposition group, based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The group has committed, and continues to commit, horrific abuses against Congolese civilians in eastern Congo, sometimes in alliance with Congolese armed groups.

Other victims were accused of collaborating with the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an opposition group in exile composed mainly of former members of Rwanda’s ruling party, or with Victoire Ingabire, president of the Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi, a banned opposition party. Ingabire is serving a 15-year prison sentence for conspiracy to undermine the government and genocide denial.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 former detainees and more than 160 family members and friends of people who were tortured between 2010 and 2016, as well as government and military officials, some of whom requested anonymity. Human Rights Watch also observed the trials of seven groups of people who said they were tortured while held unlawfully at military detention centers, and reviewed court statements regarding 21 illegal detention cases and statements given in court by 22 people.

In the cases documented, detainees were held at unofficial military detention centers, including the Defence Ministry (known as MINADEF), Kami military camp, Mukamira military camp, a military base known as the “Gendarmerie,” detention centers in Bigogwe, Mudende, and Tumba, and private homes used as detention centers. Human Rights Watch is not aware of any Rwandan laws or statutes allowing detention at these locations.

image



The Rwandan government did not reply to numerous letters from Human Rights Watch presenting the findings and requesting a response to specific questions. However, the government has publicly asserted, on multiple occasions, that unofficial detention does not exist in Rwanda. With regard to Kami military camp, which is consistently identified as a location where authorities have interrogated and tortured detainees, Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said in March 2016, during a review before the UN Human Rights Committee, that “no interrogation of suspects is carried out” and “no people are imprisoned there.”

Many of the detainees, including civilians and former FDLR combatants, were arrested in Rwanda by Rwandan soldiers, sometimes assisted by police, intelligence, or local government officials. Others were arrested and ill-treated in neighboring Burundi or Congo, some while being processed through the demobilization and repatriation program supported by the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. They were then illegally transferred to Rwanda, where they were abused.

In most cases, victims were interrogated, ill-treated or tortured, and forced to sign confessions, often based on fabricated allegations, while they were victims of an enforced disappearance. They were then eventually taken before prosecutors, who often pressured suspects to confirm their confessions and, to the best of Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, did not investigate alleged abuses during detention. Some detainees were released as suddenly and as arbitrarily as they had been arrested, often in groups, without any charges or judicial procedure.

Many said that torture sessions began immediately when they arrived at the military detention center. Many were handcuffed while soldiers slapped and punched them or beat them with sticks. “[When we arrived] at Kami, I was still blindfolded,” one former detainee said. “They told me to lie on the ground. Two soldiers stood on me, one on my head and one on my feet. They stood on me and beat me. Then they made me curl up into a ball, tied me up, and pulled my legs and arms. They did this for hours and kept telling me to confess.”

If the suspect failed to give the soldiers the answers they wanted, the beatings continued, often several times a day. Other detainees described asphyxiation, electric shocks, mock executions, and tying objects to men’s genitals. Some detainees’ hands were handcuffed to their legs for months on end, with soldiers only taking the handcuffs off so the men could use the toilet. Many former detainees told Human Rights Watch, prosecutors, or judges that they signed false statements because they could not stand the torture or believed they would die.

The violations are a clear breach of Rwandan and international law, which absolutely prohibit enforced disappearances, arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention, and the use of torture and other ill-treatment. Under international law, torture and enforced disappearances are crimes subject to universal jurisdiction, meaning any country may prosecute them irrespective of where the crimes took place or the nationality of abuser or victim.

On June 30, 2015, Rwanda ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, allowing visits to detention sites by the protocol’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. The protocol requires governments to set up a national mechanism to prevent torture at the domestic level. The Rwandan government has yet to create it, despite a deadline of one year after ratification. However, a process to establish the mechanism has started. There are indications that Rwanda’s National Commission for Human Rights will manage it. In 2003 the commission investigated some cases of people held in military detention, but has shown a reluctance to do so in recent years.

Human Rights Watch wrote to the commission in January and August, 2017, to share information on torture cases and to request a response to specific questions, but got no response. The commission should demonstrate the independence and courage to investigate these sensitive cases if the national preventive mechanism is to be anything more than a cover for these crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

The subcommittee plans a state visit to Rwanda in mid-October. The Committee Against Torture, the body established by the Convention against Torture to monitor compliance by state parties, will review Rwanda’s compliance later in 2017. The subcommittee should visit areas of unlawful detention and torture, and the committee should ensure that Rwanda takes torture allegations seriously and carries out credible investigations, Human Rights Watch said.

Failing a serious effort by the Rwandan government to confront systematic torture, donors should evaluate financial and other support, including training and capacity-building, to institutions directly involved in these violations.

“The Rwandan government has every right to protect its citizens from armed groups like the FDLR, but allowing the military to commit heinous crimes only creates mistrust in the government,” Sawyer said. “To demonstrate its respect for the rule of law, and to put an end to these horrible practices, the government should immediately investigate and prosecute those responsible for unlawful detention and torture.”

Countries : 
- Rwanda   

Rate this content
 
 
 
Same author:
 flecheLa Turquie n’enregistre plus les demandeurs d’asile syriens
 flecheTurkmenistan: Report of inquiry to German cybersecurity firm
 flecheUkraine: investigate, punish hate crimes
 flecheKids with albinism belong at home and in school
 flecheAfghanistan: World Bank should aid girls’ education
 flecheRussia: Repression, Discrimination Ahead of World Cup
 flecheSaudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily
 flecheNicaragua: Protests Leave Deadly Toll
 flecheZimbabwe: Tobacco Work Harming Children
 flecheForced Labor Used in Uzbekistan's Cotton Harvests
 flecheIran: Women Face Bias in the Workplace
 flecheUS: Policy failures drive preventable overdose deaths
 flecheFollow the Thread
 flecheBrazil: Military Police Muzzled
 flecheWorld Report 2017: Demagogues Threaten Human Rights
 flecheHalte à l’utilisation d’écoles à des fins militaires
 flecheKenya: Involuntary Refugee Returns to Somalia
 flecheAustralia: Appaling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru
 flecheHazardous Child Labor on Indonesian Tobacco Farms
 flecheGlobal Profits from Hazardous Child Labor
 flechePeople with Disabilities at Risk in Conflict, Disaster
 flecheTunisia: Uphold Rights While Fighting Terrorism
 flecheUS: Abuse of Transgender Women in Immigration Detention
 flecheBusinesses Help Fuel Abuses in Israeli Settlements
 flecheKiller Robots and the Concept of Meaningful Human Control
 flecheEU/Balkans/Greece: Border Curbs Threaten Rights
 fleche“Stay With Him Even If He Wants To Kill You”
 flecheSouth Sudan's Schools Occupied by Military
 flecheRights in Transition
 fleche‘Politics of Fear’ Threatens Rights : World Report 2016
 flecheLebanon: Residency Rules Put Syrians at Risk
 flecheRwanda: International Tribunal Closing Its Doors
 flecheSouth Sudan: Terrifying Lives of Child Soldiers
 flecheHuman Rights in Climate Pact Under Fire
 flecheChild Marriage: Zimbabwe
 flecheUN: Human Rights Crucial in Addressing Climate Change
 flecheAmid Insecurity, Protect Refugees
 flecheEU/AU: Put Rights at Heart of Migration Efforts
 flecheUN: End Overbroad Foreign Terrorist Fighter Laws
 flecheEU/Balkans: Contradictory Migration Plan
 flecheKenya: Climate Change Threatens Rights
 flecheSyria: New Russian-Made Cluster Munition Reported
 flecheEU: Shifting Responsibility on Refugees, Asylum Seekers
 flecheEU: Leaders Duck Responsibilities on Refugees
 flecheDispatches: France – State Snooping is Now Legal
 flecheCluster Munitions Used in 5 Countries in 2015
 flecheChina: Ensure 2022 Olympics Won’t Fuel Abuse
 flecheDispatches: The EU, Migration, and Learning to Share
 flecheChina/Kazakhstan: 2022 Games Major Test of Olympic Reforms
 flecheUN: Act to Empower Women in Conflicts
 flecheWestern Balkans: Media Freedom Under Threat
 flecheYemen: Unlawful Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Civilians
 flecheEU: Rights Abuses at Home Drive Mediterranean Crisis
 fleche37 Countries Start Process of Protecting Schools and Universities During Conflict
 flecheThe ‘Killer Robots’ Accountability Gap
 flecheUN: Major Step on Internet Privacy
 flecheSyria: 83% of Lights Extinguished After 4 Years of Crisis
 flecheWorld Report 2015: Rights Aren’t Wrong in Tough Times
 flecheTunisia: Blogger Convicted by Military Court
 flecheTunisia: Four Years On, Injustice Prevails
 flecheSouth Sudan: One Year Later, Injustice Prevails
 flecheIndia: Women With Disabilities Locked Away and Abused
 flecheUS: Senate Report Slams CIA Torture, Lies
 flecheUS: Immigration Plan Laudable But Incomplete
 flecheThe silence over Islamic State’s abuse of women
 flecheCrimea: Human Rights in Decline
 flecheUkraine, Syria: Incendiary Weapons Threaten Civilians
 flecheSyria: ISIS Tortured Kobani Child Hostages
 flecheIraq: ISIS Executed Hundreds of Prison Inmates
 flecheUS: Migrants Returned to Danger
 flecheNigeria: Victims of Abductions Tell Their Stories
 flecheEurope: National Courts Extend Reach of Justice
 flecheÉtats-Unis : Dérives de la surveillance
 flecheIraq: ISIS Abducting, Killing, Expelling Minorities
 flecheUnited Nations: Rein in Mass Surveillance
 flecheUganda: Homeless Children Face Violence, Exploitation
 flecheFrance: Face-Veil Ruling Undermines Rights
 flecheIsrael: Serious Violations in West Bank Operations
 flecheTo Help Restore Confidence in Europe, Protect Rights
 flecheSyria: Abuses in Kurdish-run Enclaves
 flecheMalaysia: End Arrests of Transgender Women
 flecheGlobal Treaty to Protect Forced Labor Victims Adopted
 flecheSyria: Strong Evidence Government Used Chemicals as a Weapon
 flecheSnowden Claims NSA Spied on Rights Groups
 flecheExploitation in the Name of Education
 flecheWorld Report 2014: War on Syria’s Civilians Unchecked
 flecheCorée du Nord : Crimes contre l'humanité dans les camps
 flecheWar on Syria’s Civilians Unchecked
 flecheStatement on US President Obama’s surveillance speech
 flecheWorld Bank Group: Inadequate Response to Killings, Land Grabs
 flecheWhy Tech is a Double-edged Sword for Human Rights
 flecheReporters’ Guide For Covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia
 flecheTunisia: Strengthen New Constitution’s Human Rights Protection
 flecheCentral African Republic: Sectarian Atrocities Escalate
 flecheChallenging the Red Lines
 flecheSaudi Arabia: Activists Challenging Status Quo
 flecheSyria: Holistic Approach Needed for Justice
 flecheICC: Support Justice, Reject Immunity
 flecheICC: Africa Should Reject ‘Free Pass’ for Leaders
 flecheUN: Start International Talks on ‘Killer Robots’
 fleche"At Least Let Them Work"
 flecheRussia: Abuses Tarnish 100-Day Countdown to Winter Olympics
 flechePressure Grows to Protect Domestic Workers
 flecheEU: Improve Migrant Rescue, Offer Refuge
 flecheJordan: Reform Agenda Falling Short
 flecheUN: Hold International Talks on ‘Killer Robots’
 flecheTunisia: Landmark Opportunity to Combat Torture
 fleche“You Can Still See Their Blood”
 flecheSyria: Executions, Hostage Taking by Rebels
 flecheGroundbreaking Treaty on Toxic Mercury
 flecheUN Security Council: Address Rights Abuses in DR Congo
 flecheAfghanistan: Child Marriage, Domestic Violence Harm Progress
 flecheICC: keep pledges to strengthen international justice
 flecheICC: Strengthen international justice at Kampala Conference
 flecheUnited Nations - Do not meet with officials wanted for war crimes - Letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
 flecheDecisive moment for global transparency effort
 flecheWorld Report: Abusers target Human Rights messengers
 flecheUN: Act to end atrocities in Eastern Congo
 flecheWorld AIDS Day: Punitive laws threaten HIV progress
 flecheICC: Promote global support for Court
 flecheReport "Together, Apart - Organizing around sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide"
 flecheUAE: exploited workers building ‘Island of Happiness’
 flecheSwine flu measures no excuse for abridging rights
 flecheQ & A: International Criminal Court’s decision on al-Bashir’s arrest warrant
 flecheThe intensifying battle over Internet freedom
 fleche2009 World Report: Obama should emphasize human rights
 flecheKillings in Kiwanja - The UN’s inability to protect civilians
 flecheICC: First warrants requested for attacks on Darfur Peacekeepers
 flecheGovernments should improve access to pain treatment : millions worldwide suffer unnecessarily
 flecheICC: Good progress amid missteps in first five years
 flecheOAS adopts resolution to protect sexual rights
 flecheArmenia: civilians die as police suppress demonstrations and riots
 flecheReport : "On the Margins of Profit - Rights at Risk in the Global Economy"
 flecheKosovo: build new state on rule of law
 fleche2007 in photos
 flecheWorld Report 2008
 flecheDemocracy charade undermines rights
 fleche“Burma: children bought and sold by army recruiters”
 flecheHuman Rights Watch’s Statement to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Council
 flecheBurma: fully cooperate with UN envoy
 flecheNicaragua: New Abortion Ban Puts Women’s Lives at Risk
 flecheRussia targets Georgians for expulsion
 flecheDarfur 2007: Chaos by Design - Report
 flecheDarfur 2007: Chaos by Design - Report

 flecheUganda: Press homophobia raises fears of crackdown
 flecheSpain: Migrant Children at Risk in Government Facilities
 flecheHuman Rights Watch Launches World Report 2007 on Guantanamo Anniversary
 flecheEU Should Fill Leadership Void on Human Rights
 flecheLes pionniers de la justice internationale
 flecheUniversal Jurisdiction in Europe : The State of the Art
 flecheHuman Rights Watch World Report 2006
 flecheUkraine: Migrants, Asylum Seekers Regularly Abused
 flecheHuman Rights Watch Statement on U.S. Secret Detention Facilities in Europe
 flecheD.R. Congo: Arming Civilians Adds Fuel to the Fire
 flecheRussia: Mothers With HIV and Their Children Face Stigma and Discrimination
 flecheSudan: Communal Violence Threatens Peace Process
 flecheBalkans: Srebrenica’s Most Wanted Remain Free
 flecheKyrgyzstan: Say No to Return of Uzbek Refugees
 flecheChina: Religious Repression of Uighur Muslims
 fleche'Diplomatic Assurances' Allowing Torture: Growing Trend Defies International Law


 flecheHuman Rights Watch International Film Festival
 flecheDans toute l'Europe, des organisations de défense des droits humains et des réfugiés demandent à l'Union européenne d'abandonner une proposition déterminante sur le droit d'asile
 flecheRepeating Clinton's Mistakes
 flecheU.S.: Abu Ghraib Only the “Tip of the Iceberg”
 fleche'Diplomatic Assurances' Allowing Torture
 flecheStop the export of U.S.-Funded Abstinence-only HIV/AIDS programs
 flecheCuba: EU Should Insist on Real Rights Progress
 flecheColombia: Armed Groups Send Children to War
 flecheU.S. Gag on Needle Exchange Harms U.N. AIDS Efforts
 flecheSudan: Atrocities, Impunity Threaten Lasting Peace
 flecheHuman Rights Day Statement
 flecheUnited Nations : Good Diagnosis, but Poor Prescription
 flecheIraq: Coalition Ignored Warnings on Weapons Stocks
 flecheBalkans: Local Courts Currently Unprepared to Try War Crimes

 flechePrisoners Who Disappear
 flecheHuman Rights in the War on Terrorism
 flecheOlympic Spotlight Shifts to China : Beijing Should Use Olympic Games to Improve Basic Rights
 flecheIraq: Insurgents Must Stop Targeting Civilians
 flecheU.S.: Hundreds of Civilian Deaths in Iraq Were Preventable
 flecheAfrica: Gender Inequality Fuels AIDS Crisis
 flecheTurkey: Acceleration of Reforms Needed Now for EU Bid
 flecheColombia — Widespread Use of Child Combatants
 flecheAfghanistan: Security Must Precede Repatriation
 flecheTrade Ministers Urged to Protect Labor Rights in FTAA

 flecheFTAA Summit: Reject Tighter Patents on AIDS Drugs
 flecheNAFTA Labor Accord Ineffective
13
SEARCH
Keywords   go
in 
the articles