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Department Seal


DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Rwanda is governed by an interim Government under a 
powersharing arrangement in which President Juvenal Habyarimana 
retains predominant executive, legislative, and judicial 
authority in accordance with the 1991 Constitution.  
Responsibility for day-to-day government operations rests with 
a five-party coalition Government headed by a Prime Minister 
from an opposition party.

The interim Government took a major step forward in its 
promised transition to multiparty democracy when it signed a 
Peace Accord on August 4 with the Rwandan Patriotic Front 
(RPF), ending 3 years of war.  The Peace Accord, the result of 
more than a year of intense negotiations between the two sides, 
is designed to overcome the major cause of the war, ethnic 
rivalry between Hutus and Tutsis, who comprise about 85 and 14 
percent of the population respectively.  The United Nations 
Security Council voted on October 5 to send a peacekeeping 
force to Rwanda to assist in the implementation of the Accord.

The Peace Accord had not been implemented by year's end, but, 
when implemented, will shift many presidential powers to a new 
multiparty government, create a transition national assembly 
composed of deputies appointed by 17 political parties, and 
establish a joint high command for an integrated (government 
and RPF) army and gendarmerie.  The establishment of these 
transition institutions will usher in a 22-month transition 
period intended to end with multiparty elections.

The Peace Accord calls for an integrated army and gendarmerie 
composed of 60-percent government and 40-percent RPF forces.  
Rwanda's security apparatus consists of the Armed Forces (FAR), 
including the army, responsible for external security, and the 
gendarmerie, responsible for internal security; the local 
police; and the internal and external intelligence services.  A 
National Security Council, consisting of the Ministries of 
Defense, Interior, and Justice, which are responsible for these 
services, coordinates the activities of the security 
institutions.  In the wake of renewed hostilities between the 
Government and the RPF in February, members of both armies 
committed serious human rights abuses against civilians.

The overwhelming majority of Rwandans are subsistence farmers.  
The modest industry and food production has barely managed to 
keep pace with the high population growth rate.  The economy 
depends heavily on exports of coffee and tea, and on foreign 
aid.  Rwanda has an agreement with the World Bank and the 
International Monetary Fund for a structural adjustment 
program, but the war has disrupted economic recovery; and 
economic growth remains dependent on postwar economic recovery.

Human rights abuses that plagued the first quarter of 1993 
diminished considerably as the peace process progressed toward 
the signing of the Peace Accord and its implementation.  Those 
abuses stemmed from dissatisfaction on the part of the former 
sole party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development 
(MRND), over the powersharing arrangement agreed to on January 
9 between the multiparty Government and the RPF.  That 
dissatisfaction triggered ethnic violence that killed over 300 
persons and displaced 4,000 persons, mainly minority Tutsis and 
opposition political party members.  Citing this violence as a 
cease-fire violation, the RPF attacked in February, killing a 
number of civilians, mostly Hutus, including some who were 
politically prominent.  In withdrawing, government soldiers 
looted, raped, and killed a number of civilians.  The February 
fighting temporarily displaced another 600,000 people, bringing 
the total number of those displaced by war to nearly 1 million.

During this same period, security forces responsible for 
civilian safety outside the war zone occasionally arrested, 
beat, and sometimes tortured and killed persons suspected of 
sympathy with the RPF.  Early in the year, an international 
commission composed of 10 specialists from various countries 
investigated past and present human rights abuses.  The 
commission's report, issued in March, and the unresolved 
political killings in May and August of a prominent politician 
and a well-known local government official kept alive fears of 
the possible existence of a death squad.  As installation of 
the broad-based government approached following signing of the 
August 4 Peace Accord, sporadic incidents of violence claimed 
the lives of several civilians in widely scattered rural areas.

Despite the disruptions of the first quarter, the Government 
was able subsequently to hold elections in many localities 
based on competition among multiple candidates from different 
political parties, including the RPF.  Opposition parties won 
about half of those local elections.  Women, however, are 
poorly represented in the present and emerging political 
system.  They face extensive legal and societal discrimination 
and are often victims of domestic violence.  In the first 
quarter, they were frequently victims of rape by soldiers.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were extensive political and other extrajudicial killings 
in the ethnic and political violence which erupted in 
northwestern Rwanda in January following discontent over the 
powersharing agreement between the Government and the RPF.  The 
violence, which targeted Tutsis and supporters of political 
parties other than the MRND, resulted in over 300 deaths and 
the temporary displacement of 4,000 persons.  Youth from the 
MRND and their ally, the Coalition for the Defense of the 
Republic (CDR), were responsible for carrying out many of the 
killings.  Women and children were among the victims. (See also 
Section 1.g.)

Subsequently, under pressure from the RPF in peace talks, the 
Government removed several local and regional officials for 
suspected involvement in this ethnic and political violence.  
However, an interministerial commission found that local 
authorities had, by and large, responded appropriately to the 
violence, and the Government took little disciplinary action.  
It reassigned many of these local officials to important posts, 
and none had been brought to trial on either civil or criminal 
charges by year's end.

In the aftermath of the ethnic violence in the first quarter, 
the authorities charged about 400 persons with arson or 
murder.  Approximately one-third of these had been tried by 
year's end, and 77 were convicted in trials generally believed 
to be fair, with sentences ranging from prison terms to the 
death penalty.

The RPF was guilty of political and extrajudicial killings 
during its February offensive, including targeting local 
officials such as judges (see Section 1.g.).

Following the RPF attack, persons suspected of being RPF 
sympathizers, usually Tutsis but sometimes opposition party 
members, lost their lives at the hands of the Rwandan military 
or other party members.  Human rights organizations documented 
cases north of Kigali, just south of the war front, where the 
military shot to death Tutsis, sometimes whole families or 
sometimes just the men, usually at checkpoints.  Other cases 
indicated that the military beat to death detainees, usually 
held for lacking proper identification, including at least five 
detainees in a military camp in central Kigali.  Gendarmes 
abducted three Tutsi (Bagogwe) students from the campus of an 
Adventist University in February.  Their bodies, along with two 
others, were subsequently found near the school.  Human rights 
monitors reported that as many as four unclaimed bodies, 
showing signs of beatings or bullet wounds, were buried in 
Kigali each day in late February.  Most of these extrajudicial 
killings remain unsolved, although a military court has 
convicted some soldiers for vengeance killings.  

Allegations of the existence of Rwandan death squads 
persisted.  In May unknown assailants killed a prominent 
opposition politician and in August a well-known local 
official.  A report in March from an International Commission 
of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights in Rwanda since 
October 1, 1990, also gave some support to these allegations.  
The Commission, comprised of human rights monitors from eight 
countries, spent 2 weeks in Rwanda in January, and its report 
identified individuals suspected of involvement in death squad 
activity.  Several persons identified in the report 
subsequently denied the allegations, and the credibility of one 
of the Commission's witnesses, who claimed he had participated 
in death squad activities, had not been established by year's 

     b.  Disappearance

Local human rights monitors documented at least 10 
disappearances in 1993.  Most cases involved individuals 
suspected of being RPF sympathizers who were last seen in the 
custody of gendarmes or government military personnel or are 
believed to have been arrested or abducted by government 
authorities.  In one case, a returning Rwandan refugee of Tutsi 
origin was stopped and questioned by MRND youth and 
subsequently beaten and taken to a gendarme brigade 
headquarters in Kigali on suspicion of being an RPF 
sympathizer.  He has not been seen since.  In addition to these 
documented cases, local human rights organizations looked into 
several other cases of reported disappearances.  In most cases, 
however, the local human rights monitors were unable to verify 
that the individuals existed.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture, although not explicitly outlawed, is contrary to the 
Constitution and Peace Accord, which together constitute the 
fundamental law of the land.

Early in the year, security forces sometimes used torture as 
part of interrogations.  During the first quarter, their 
mistreatment of civilians, especially Tutsis, increased 
sharply.  Security forces responsible for civilian safety 
outside the war zone occasionally arrested, beat, tortured, and 
killed persons suspected of sympathy with the RPF (see Section 
1.a.).  These abuses decreased markedly after the Minister of 
Defense ordered an end to abusive behavior at military 

There were many incidents of arbitrary beatings by security 
forces and political party youth groups in the politically 
charged atmosphere of January and February.  In January MRND 
and CDR youth blocked roads and attacked Tutsis and political 
opponents in the northeast of the country.  In one case, 
MRND/CDR youth beat Rwandan employees of Care International in 
their homes for suspected sympathy with the RPF.  Local 
security forces did not intervene to end the violence.

Government soldiers frequently raped women and high school 
girls as they withdrew from the front in the face of the RPF 
advance (see also Sections 1.g. and 5).  

Credible reports indicate that one gendarme in the gendarmerie 
interrogation unit, which was trained in non-abusive 
interrogation techniques in 1992, tortured at least five 
persons in 1993.  One victim, a soldier detained in a military 
camp on suspicion of attempted assassination, was later 
transferred to the Kigali prison and released after being 
acquitted of illegally carrying a grenade.  The gendarme was 
transferred to another post after human rights watchers alerted 
superiors to his behavior.

Prisons are overcrowded, poorly maintained, and occasionally 
the site of deadly violence among prisoners.  Delegates of the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have regular 
access to prisoners and gendarme brigades.  ICRC also has 
access to military camps but not to detainees, if any, held 

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Except for suspects caught in the act of committing crimes, the 
law requires that arrests be made with a warrant following an 
investigation.  Under the law, persons may be detained for no 
more than 48 hours without a warrant.  Within 5 days of arrest, 
charges must be stated formally in the defendant's presence, or 
the Court of Appeals must approve a public prosecutor's request 
for a 30-day preventive detention order.

Preventive detention is permitted if public safety is believed 
to be threatened, if the accused might flee, or if the penalty 
carries a minimum sentence of 6 months.  Detention may be 
prolonged indefinitely, but judicial review is mandatory every 
30 days.  Detainees may appeal their incarceration, and the 
appeal must be heard within 24 hours by a competent judicial 
authority.  These procedures apply to all persons suspected of 
crimes and are generally respected in practice.  Failure to 
meet any of these requirements constitutes grounds for release 
of the arrested person and dismissal of the case.  Bail is not 
available under Rwandan law, but suspects are often released on 
their own recognizance pending trial.

During February, following resumption of hostilities between 
government forces and the RPF, the military arrested and 
detained a number of civilians, usually Tutsi, suspected of 
complicity with the RPF.  They were detained temporarily by the 
military in military camps in Gisenyi, Gitarama, and Kigali, 
allegedly for not having proper identification papers.  
Intervention by the Minister of Defense or action by human 
rights groups generally resulted in the release of these 
detainees or their transfer to civilian prisons.  These arrests 
were not widespread, as was the case after the outbreak of war 
in 1990, and the judicial system was not involved.

There are no known cases of politicians or journalists being 
arrested or detained in 1993 for expressing views critical of 
the Government.  No action has been taken in the security cases 
pending since 1992 against three journalists who remain at 
liberty.  Illegal detentions in criminal cases continue to be 
common due to delays in processing and unfamiliarity of 
untrained magistrates with judicial procedures.

Pretrial detainees, who comprise the majority of prisoners, may 
wait for a year or more for a court date due to the backlog of 
cases.  There are no known cases of political detainees still 
in custody, either in prisons or military camps.  Following the 
signing of the Peace Accord, the ICRC returned 12 prisoners of 
war (POW's) held by the RPF to the Government and the 
Government returned 6 POW's to the RPF.

Exile is not practiced as a form of punishment.  However, 
thousands of Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, have been in exile for 
over 30 years in neighboring countries and abroad.  Between 
2,000 and 4,000 such exiles or their children comprised the RPF 
invasion force in October 1990.  The Peace Accord incorporates 
into law the right of return; a December 1991 law grants 
blanket amnesty to refugees and exiles who choose to repatriate.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system has separate court systems for 
criminal/civil cases and military cases.  Decisions may be 
appealed to the appropriate regional court of appeals.  At the 
request of counsel or of defendants, the Cour de Cassation will 
review civil and criminal cases for errors in procedure or in 
the application of the law.  Errors can result in retrial by 
another panel of judges.  The State Security Court, abolished 
by the Peace Accord, had been defunct since the coalition 
Government announced its abolition in mid-1992.

The judicial system is susceptible to government influence and 
manipulation.  Although the Constitution provides for an 
independent judiciary, it also makes the judicial system 
dependent on the executive branch and gives the President 
ultimate authority to appoint and dismiss judges.  Also, the 
judicial system is hampered by the low educational level of the 
vast majority of judicial officials, the lack of material and 
equipment for the courts, and the absence of compiled 

The revitalization of the magistrature, anticipated following 
passage of a law in 1992 enhancing the role of magistrates in 
decisions affecting the judiciary, did not occur.  Instead, 
controversy over the legality of the leadership and initial 
decisions of the newly constituted Superior Council of 
Magistrates paralyzed the judicial system.  In addition, Rwanda 
had no Minister of Justice during the first 6 months of 1993.

All trials are public.  Defendants are constitutionally 
entitled to counsel but often are not represented at trial by 
counsel because of a shortage of lawyers.  There are only about 
40 trained private lawyers in Rwanda, mostly in Kigali, and 
approximately 100 officially recognized "legal agents" who may 
represent defendants in court.

There were no known political prisoners in custody at year's 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution provides for the respect of privacy of 
individuals, correspondence, and communications and declares 
that the home is inviolable.  These provisions are generally 
respected, but occasionally Rwandans are subject to 
interference in their private lives.  During a brief period 
following renewed hostilities in February, gendarmes looking 
for hidden weapons entered homes in several parts of Kigali 
without the required warrants, sometimes in the middle of the 
night or just before dawn.  The military conducted a predawn 
search of homes of suspected RPF sympathizers in the commune of 
Murambi in December, beating occupants in the course of 
searching for weapons.

Surveillance of political parties, associations, and 
individuals is not practiced.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Both government and RPF forces committed extensive violations 
of humanitarian law.  A cease-fire established in July 1992 
between the Government and the RPF held until February and then 
was reestablished in March.  During the month-long RPF 
offensive, an undetermined number of deaths and injuries to 
combatants and civilians occurred from artillery, mortars, and 
small arms fire.

Retreating soldiers came to be regarded with fear by the 
populace because of their undisciplined looting and raping.  
They--not the fighting--were responsible for much of the damage 
to houses, schools, and clinics in the war zone.  

Both the military and the RPF are suspected of responsibility 
for a "killing field" containing scores of human skeletons in 
the war zone of northeastern Rwanda, in an area that changed 
hands several times during the February hostilities.

The RPF committed many human rights abuses against civilians 
during its February offensive.  Credible reports indicate that 
in the first days of the attack in the Ruhengeri area, the RPF 
used grenades against groups of civilians and targeted for 
death specific authorities, including several judges and a 
local administrator implicated in the deaths of Bagogwe, a 
Tutsi subgroup.  There was no evidence, however, to support 
allegations that the RPF used chemical weapons against 
displaced persons or that it massacred hundreds of Rwandans 
trapped behind RPF lines.

The number of displaced persons reached nearly 1 million, 
600,000 displaced for the first time and 350,000 re-displaced, 
some for the fourth time.  A massive relief operation to assist 
displaced persons was mounted by the Government, the ICRC, the 
local Red Cross, international organizations, nongovernmental 
organizations, and bilateral donors.  Relief assistance 
continued, but most of the newly displaced had returned to 
their homes by the end of August, following the signing of the 
Peace Accord.  The combatants permitted the ICRC and the World 
Food Program to bring in relief supplies from Uganda through 
the combat zone before and after the February offensive, 
although there were substantial interruptions.

There were also random acts of violence involving grenades, 
land mines, and bomb explosions for which no one claimed 
responsibility.  About 50 judicial cases involving mines are 
pending, but none had come to trial by year's end.  Armed 
robbery, often involving use of grenades, common in urban 
areas, resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.  Some such 
robberies may have been linked to political intimidation.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press.  
Except in areas experiencing violence, freedom of speech was 
widely exercised by political parties, human rights 
associations, the private press, and the government media.  

Although the electronic media is expanding, the 
government-owned and operated radio station dominates the media 
and is the most important means of reaching the public.  Since 
the opening to a multiparty system in 1991 and the appointment 
of an opposition minister to head the Ministry of Information 
in 1992, the radio commonly airs opposing viewpoints, including 
criticism of government policies.  Political groups have 
complained about being denied access for their press releases 
and coverage for their political activities and positions.  The 
new government-owned and operated television station, which 
broadcasts on weekends and now reaches 70 percent of the 
country, is considered more balanced in its news coverage than 
the radio.

The press, both government and private, became more 
professional in its reporting and, consequently, more tolerated 
by authorities and prominent individuals.  Three newspapers 
dominate the print media:  a government-owned weekly, an 
independent Catholic biweekly, and a private rural-oriented 

The press law provides for stiff penalties for insulting the 
President and requires editors to file copies of each edition 
of their papers with specified authorities, including the 
public prosecutor, prior to distribution, but this has resulted 
neither in censorship nor self-censorship.  The authorities did 
not arrest or detain any journalists during 1993 and took no 
action against three journalists, who remain at liberty, 
charged with security violations pending since 1992.  Unknown 
persons assassinated a television journalist in front of his 
home in April, but it is unclear whether his death was 
connected with his work.  No one was arrested for the crime.  
Another journalist, Afrika Janvier, who claimed while in 
custody that he had participated in "death squad" activities, 
chose to remain in prison pending appeal of his conviction for 
defamation of the President.

Political, ethnic, and regional tensions often affect 
professorial appointments in the national university system, 
but there was no apparent ideological pressure on teaching, 
research or curriculum.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly.  
Permits for outdoor rallies, demonstrations, and meetings 
require 6-day advance notice, but political party rallies are 
routinely held throughout the country, except in combat zones, 
without official interference or obstruction.

Unauthorized demonstrations in January, particularly by party 
youth, both in Kigali and in the north of the country, resulted 
in property damage, numerous injuries, and some deaths.  After 
hostilities resumed, the President called on political parties 
to suspend party rallies and meetings.  Opposition parties 
objected publicly to this proposal, but they never tested it.  
Normal political activity resumed after a cease-fire was 
reestablished in March.

Citizens were generally free to join the political party of 
their choice, but sometimes MRND and CDR party youth used 
violence against persons affiliated with a different party or 
with no party (see Sections 1.a and 1.c.).  Political parties, 
now numbering 18, and civic associations, which have 
proliferated since 1991, must register with the Ministry of the 
Interior and with the Ministry of Justice, respectively.  There 
were no instances of registrations being denied.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution and is 
generally accorded to religious communities.  At the end of 
1992, the Government dropped its objections to the Jehovah's 
Witnesses, who are now free to practice their religion.  
Christianity predominates with the largest segment of the 
population adhering to Catholicism.  Muslims constitute a small 
minority but freely practice their religion.

There was no discrimination against foreign clergy, and no 
restrictions on construction of places of worship, training of 
clergy, religious publishing, or religious education.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Freedom of movement and residence are restricted by laws and 
regulations which require all residents to hold national 
identity cards and residence and work permits.  Police conduct 
periodic checks, especially in urban areas, and return all 
those not registered in the locality to their own commune.  
Property owners who do not require tenants to show valid 
documentation are subject to fines and even imprisonment.  
Undocumented tenants are subject to expulsion.

A nightly curfew, introduced following the outbreak of war in 
1990, was extended following resumption of hostilities in 
February, and then lifted after the Peace Accord was signed, 
except in the former war zone.  Military checkpoints, too, were 
increased when hostilities resumed but nearly eliminated after 

Passports for foreign travel are normally obtained by Rwandans 
who seek them.  Following the signing of the Peace Accord, the 
Government began issuing passports upon request to Rwandan 
refugees and exiles.  Emigration is not restricted.

The Peace Accord protocol on refugees incorporates into law the 
right of refugees to return.  Estimates of refugees and exiles 
living in neighboring countries and elsewhere range from 
500,000 to more than 1 million.  Most are ethnic Tutsis, and 
their descendants, who fled Rwanda in 1959 and during 
subsequent ethnic violence associated with independence in 
1962.  Individual refugees and exiles, including some Tutsis 
from Burundi, began to return in 1993, but planning continued 
for organized return of those who desire government 
assistance.  A 1991 law grants amnesty to refugees for crimes 
committed before the law went into effect.

Nearly 300,000 refugees from Burundi poured into Rwanda in 
October to escape ethnic violence following the abortive coup 
attempt and assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi's first 
president of Hutu origin.  These refugees are situated in camps 
along the length of the Rwandan border with Burundi.  Prior to 
this recent influx, Rwanda was hosting approximately 23,000 
refugees, mainly Hutus from Burundi, most of whom had fled 
massacres in 1972.  Most retained Burundi citizenship but were 
integrated into Rwandan society.  Between the time of the 
Burundi President's election in June 1993 and his assassination 
in October, more Burundi refugees sought repatriation than 
could be immediately accommodated.  During this period, almost 
all who had fled to Rwanda after violence in 1988 and 1991, as 
well as some who had been in Rwanda since 1972, repatriated 
under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees.  Some of these repatriates returned to Rwanda after 
the coup attempt, having lost family members in the subsequent 
ethnic violence.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens did not have the ability to change their government 
through democratic means.  Nevertheless, under a powersharing 
agreement reached in 1992, four opposition parties participated 
in a five-party coalition Government with President Habyarimana 
and the former sole party, the MRND.  Nearly one-quarter of the 
deputies in the legislature declared themselves members of 
parties other than the MRND.  The Peace Accord, which had not 
gone into full effect by the end of the year, defers 
nationwide, multiparty elections for President and Parliament, 
called for under the 1991 Constitution, until the end of the 
22-month transition period.

The U.N. Security Council voted on October 5 to send a new U.N. 
force to Rwanda to assist with implementation of the Peace 
Accord.  The U.N. mission will be responsible for assisting in 
providing security for Kigali so that the broad-based 
government can be installed, for monitoring government and RPF 
observance of the cease-fire and adherence to the Peace Accord 
provisions on the integration of the armed forces, for 
assisting in providing security for returning refugees, and for 
monitoring the security situation in the period leading up to 

The Peace Accord signed in August and the 1991 Constitution 
together constitute the Fundamental Law of Rwanda.  The Accord 
calls for President Habyarimana to remain President during the 
transition period with the prime minister to come from a 
different political party.  Government ministers and deputies 
in the 70-person legislature, the transition national assembly, 
are to be named by their political parties to positions 
distributed among the parties according to formulas worked out 
at the peace negotiations.  Six parties, including the RPF, 
will comprise the government and 17 parties are authorized to 
hold seats in the legislature (two parties declined).  The 
enlarged transition government will be responsible for 
developing an electoral law, establishing an electoral 
commission, and drafting a new constitution, to be submitted to 
national referendum.

There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women 
in political life, but women are poorly represented in politics 
and government.  Three women held ministerial portfolios, 
including that of Prime Minister, and several, representing 
different parties, served as deputies in the legislature.  
Toward the end of the year, political parties began selecting 
deputies to be named to the new transition national assembly.  
While the selection process was not yet complete at year's end, 
it appears that the new Assembly will have considerably fewer 
female deputies than the previous legislature.  Former female 
deputies report that their chances of competing on an equal 
footing with men within a competitive party system are nil. 

Although there are no legal restraints to their participation 
in the political process, the Twa (Pygmies) are not represented 
in key positions, including any in Rwanda's emerging political 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Rwanda has nine human rights organizations, five formed in 1990 
and 1991 and four formed in 1993.  Those formed earliest, which 
have joined together in a consortium, regularly investigate 
allegations of human rights abuses, make representations to 
public officials, publish press releases and reports of 
investigations, and generally seek redress on behalf of 
victims.  These organizations have been instrumental in 
alerting officials to abuses of authority and in prompting 
early interventions to redress or contain ethnic violence, 
arbitrary arrest, or torture (see Sections 1.a. and 1.d.).  

While their work was generally unhindered, individual human 
rights monitors experienced intimidation and sometimes violent 
harassment from unidentified sources.  For example, an unknown 
assailant attempted to assassinate human rights monitor 
Alphonse Nkubito on November 14.  He sustained injuries from 
grenade fragments.  Local officials in some areas where abuses 
occurred prevented access to human rights monitors or warned 
citizens against talking to them.  Prominent human rights 
monitors frequently received threatening anonymous phone calls.

The more recently formed associations trace all human rights 
problems in Rwanda to the war launched by the RPF in 1990, a 
view shared by the MRND and authorities supportive of the 
President.  They were largely inactive, but one published a 
commentary criticizing the International Human Rights 
Commission's findings (see below).  A National Human Rights 
Commission with investigative authority, called for in the Rule 
of Law Protocol of the Peace Accord, has yet to be established.

Rwanda cooperates with outside governmental and nongovernmental 
human rights groups.  In January an "International Commission 
of Inquiry on Violations of Human Rights in Rwanda since 
October 1, 1990," composed of experts from eight countries, 
spent 2 weeks investigating past and then-current human rights 
abuses.  Its report, released in March, accused government 
officials, including President Habyarimana, of responsibility 
for massacres.  In response, the President and Prime Minister 
issued a joint statement acknowledging past wrongs and setting 
forth proposals for preventing future abuses.  There has been 
minimum followup.

Rwandan human rights monitors are in frequent contact with 
international human rights groups and receive considerable 
financial support from abroad.  The International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) continued to have unrestricted access to 
prisons and gendarmeries, but the Government again denied the 
ICRC request for access to detainees, if any, in military camps.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution provides that all citizens are equal before 
the law, without any discrimination because of race, color, 
origin, ethnicity, clan, sex, opinion, religion, or social 
standing.  Rwanda's political parties' law bans parties based 
on ethnic origin or religious affiliation.  In practice, a 
number of groups experience discrimination.


Despite Constitutional provisions, women continue to face 
serious de facto discrimination.  Women play only a minor role 
in political life and the modern economy and traditionally 
perform most of the subsistence farming.  They have limited 
opportunities for education, employment, and promotion.  
According to a 1991 U.N. study, females receive only 33 percent 
of the schooling of males.  In support of women's rights, 
President Habyarimana encouraged family planning, and a new 
Family Code went into effect in 1992.  The Code generally 
improves the legal position of women in marriage, divorce, and 
child custody, but it still does not meet Rwanda's 
international and constitutional commitments to gender 
equality.  For example, it formally recognizes men as heads of 
households.  Also, the absence of succession laws limits a 
woman's right to property, thus jeopardizing her status and 
ability to provide for her family, should she survive her 

Violence against women, including wife beating, occurs and is 
thought to be widespread.  Cases involving domestic violence 
rarely come before the courts.  Instead, wife beating and 
domestic violence are normally handled within the context of 
the extended family.  A woman seeking family help is generally 
thought to be seeking advice about how to improve her conduct.  
Only if family counseling fails is the matter likely to be 
taken to outside entities, such as the courts, and divorce is 
usually the next step.  Although the number of groups promoting 
women's interests have proliferated since the opening to 
democracy, none addresses directly the issue of violence 
against women.

Rape became a major issue as soldiers left the front following 
renewed hostilities in February (see Section 1.c.).


The Government does not have a specific policy nor any 
resources earmarked for children's welfare.

By law, the State is required to pay for the education of 
orphans, prohibit imprisonment of minors with adults, protect 
minors from labor exploitation, and provide for a foster parent 
system.  In practice, funds and oversight mechanisms to 
implement these programs do not exist.

     Indigenous People

Less than 1 percent of the population comes from the Twa ethnic 
group.  These indigenous people, survivors of the Pygmy tribes 
of the mountainous forest areas bordering Zaire, exist on the 
margins of society and continue to be treated as second-class 
citizens by both Hutus and Tutsis.  The Twa have not been able 
to protect their interests which center on access to land and 
housing.  Few Twa have gained access to the education system, 
resulting in minimal representation in government structures.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 

Ethnicity is a sensitive issue as a result of Rwanda's ethnic 
imbalance and its historical legacy.  About 85 percent of the 
population is Hutu, 14 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Twa.  
Citizens carry identity documents that clearly identify ethnic 
origin, but the Peace Accord requires that this reference be 
eliminated.  A policy of ethnic quotas, which allocates 
positions to ethnic group members in proportion to their 
numbers, has in practice limited access of Tutsis to education, 
training, and government employment.  No provision is made for 
the Twa.  Procedures introduced by the coalition Government in 
place since 1992 have reduced the impact of the quota system on 
access to secondary school and eliminated some employment 
barriers.  The projected integration of government and RPF 
armed forces, part of the peace settlement, would redress the 
virtual absence of Tutsis in the security apparatus of the 
country.  Apparently as a consequence of public sector 
discrimination, Tutsis are well represented in the private 
sector and the clergy.

     People with Disabilities

There are no laws restricting people with disabilities from 
employment, education, or other state services, but in 
practice, few handicapped persons have had access to education 
and thus to employment.  Nor are there any laws or provisions 
to assure access of the disabled to public premises.  The 
number of handicapped is increasing among both civilians and 
military injured in bomb, landmine, and grenade incidents 
associated with the war or armed assaults.  The military is in 
the process of training war-wounded soldiers for productive 
employment within or outside the military.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The 1991 Constitution provides all Rwandans the right of 
association and freedom to create professional associations and 
labor unions.  Union membership is open to all salaried 
workers, including public sector employees, and is optional.  
There are no restrictions on the right of association but all 
unions must register with the Ministry of Justice for official 
recognition.  There are no known cases in which the Government 
has denied such recognition.  Unions are prohibited by law from 
having political affiliations.

Organized labor represents only a small part of the total work 
force; most Rwandan workers--over 90 percent--are engaged in 
small-scale subsistence farming.  About 7 percent of the total 
labor force is employed in the modern (wage) sector, including 
both public and private industrial production, and about 75 
percent of those active in the modern sector are members of 
labor unions.

Before 1991 the Central Union of Rwandan Workers (CESTRAR) was 
the only authorized trade union organization in the country.  
With the political reforms introduced by the 1991 Constitution, 
CESTRAR officially became independent of the Government and the 
MRND, but in practice it still has close informal ties to that 
party.  CESTRAR, which is a federation of 17 labor unions, has 
approximately 70,000 members and represents about 42 percent of 
the labor force in the modern sector.

In 1993 the Government officially recognized the Union of 
Primary Schoolteachers, bringing to five the number of unions 
recognized since 1991.  In competing for membership with 
CESTRAR, these five unions have decided to consolidate their 
recruitment efforts and enhance their bargaining power by 
forming a loose confederation to be called the Confederation of 
Liberal Syndicates (COSYU).  The other independent unions in 
COSYU are:  The United Association of Health Personnel in 
Rwanda; the Interprofessional Union of Workers of Rwanda; the 
Union of Secondary Schoolteachers; and the Association of 
Christian Unions (representing public and private sector 
workers, small businessmen, and some subsistence farmers). 

The Constitution provides to all workers, except workers in the 
public service sector, the right to strike.  Union members have 
the right to strike with the approval of their executive 
committee, provided they first try to resolve their differences 
with management according to certain steps prescribed by the 
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.  Laws prohibiting 
retribution against strikers exist but have never been enforced.

In 1993 there were several strikes against public and private 
sector firms.  One involved workers within CESTRAR's own 
executive bureau who had not been paid in several months.  
Neither CESTRAR nor the other labor unions officially organized 
these strikes.  Workers' demands focused on wages, benefits, 
and working conditions.  Although the strikes were wildcat in 
nature, the Government treated them as legitimate and acted as 
a facilitator in the workers' negotiations with management.  In 
most cases, CESTRAR played a supporting role (except in its own 
labor dispute).

Labor organizations may affiliate with international labor 
bodies.  CESTRAR is affiliated with the Organization of African 
Trade Union Unity and the International Confederation of Free 
Trade Unions.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution grants workers the right to defend their 
rights through collective action.  Only CESTRAR has an 
established collective bargaining agreement with the 
Government.  Although newly established labor unions have yet 
to develop similar procedures, their members are not prevented 
from engaging in collective bargaining.  In practice, as most 
workers are in the public sector, the Government is intimately 
involved in the process (see Section 6.e. below).

There are no legal bars to antiunion discrimination, but such 
discrimination has not occurred in practice.  There are no 
formal mechanisms to resolve complaints involving 
discrimination against unions. 

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced and Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is prohibited by law and is not known to occur in 

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Except in the subsistence agriculture sector, which involves 
most Rwandans, by law children under 18 are not permitted to 
work without their parents' or guardians' authorization, and 
they may work at night only under exceptional circumstances on 
a temporary basis.  Labor laws set the minimum age for full 
employment at 18 years and for apprenticeships at 14 years, 
providing the child has completed primary school.  The Minister 
of Labor, who is responsible for enforcement, has the right to 
permit a child under the age of 14 to work, but this has 
reportedly never been tested in practice.  Enforcement of child 
labor laws is lax; nevertheless, apart from children working in 
family-owned businesses, child labor outside the agricultural 
sector is uncommon.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum wage rates in the small modern sector of the economy 
are set administratively by the Ministry of Labor.  The minimum 
wage is $1.08 (150 Rwandan francs) for an 8-hour workday.  The 
Government, the main employer in the country, effectively sets 
most other wage rates as well.  The minimum wage is inadequate 
to provide a decent standard of living for urban families and 
is often supplemented by work in small business or subsistence 
agriculture.  In practice, the minimum wage rate is 
self-enforcing since workers will not work for less.

Government offices have a 40-hour workweek by law.  
Negotiations between the unions, government, and management are 
under way to reduce the workweek from 45 to 40 hours a week in 
the private sector as well.  Hours of work and occupational 
health and safety standards in the modern wage sector are 
controlled by law but only loosely enforced by labor inspectors 
from the Ministry of Labor.  Workers do not have the right to 
remove themselves from dangerous work situations.

[end of document]


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