There has been a call for greater scrutiny of Rwanda’s human rights record ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 in the country’s capital of Kigali.
The Australian Human Rights Institute has been campaigning to bring awareness about enforced and involuntary disappearances in the African nation.
Director of the Australian Human Rights Institute Justine Nolan said the disappearances are indicative of a systemic problem.
“Commonwealth leaders, including Australia’s new government, should use CHOGM to call for greater accountability from the Rwandan government over these disappearances.
“Rwandans at home and abroad should not fear that their families will be harmed if they criticise the Rwandan government, and Commonwealth heads of government should demand Commonwealth values, including the promotion of democracy and human rights, be upheld,” Nolan said.
Human rights advocate Noël Yandamutso Zihabamwe, an Australian citizen, filed a United Nations (UN) complaint regarding a disappearance, working with the institute, London’s Doughty Street Chambers human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson, and law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
“Since my complaint was submitted to the UN Working Group, more than 200 families have contacted me in relation to their own family and friends who have been harassed or have disappeared in Rwanda.
“The vast majority of these disappearances in Rwanda are never brought to international attention and Rwandan families continue to suffer in silence,” Zihabamwe said.
The CHOGM is a meeting occurring once every two years, with this year’s meeting going from June 20 to 25. According to The Australian, prime minister Anthony Albanese is not attending but defence minister Richard Marles is, following a visit to India.
With the event postponed twice due to COVID, the theme for 2022 is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’.
The comments from Australian Human Rights Institute come at a time of international scrutiny on Rwanda, as the European Court of Human Rights issued an injunction on the deportation of asylum seekers by the UK to Rwanda last week.