Workshop on the Implementation of Rwanda's human Rights obligations under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism (UPR)

22 May 2012

Background :

The idea of this training came out of a reinforced collaborative effort between the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda and the UNCT Human Rights Advisor’s office to build the capacity of the Commission to better monitor and promote human rights in line with the International legal framework. In terms of Article 177 of the Constitution of Rwanda the National Commission for Human Rights is an independent national institution responsible for educating and mobilizing the population on matters relating to human rights; examining the violations of human rights committed on Rwandan territory by State organs, public officials using their duties as cover, by organizations and by individuals; carrying out investigations of human rights abuses in Rwanda and filing complaints in respect thereof with the competent courts  and preparing and disseminating  annual reports  and other reports  as  may be necessary on the situation of human rights in Rwanda.

In January  2011, Rwanda went through the Universal Periodic  Review, a comprehensive assessment of the HR’s compliance by States run by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The review culminated into 73 recommendations from the Human Rights Council, of which
67 were adopted by Rwanda.  The  Government  of Rwanda  through its  inter-ministerial treatybody taskforce has taken steps towards follow up of the UPR outcomes by adopting a national road map on their implementation.
The National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda therefore has a significant role to play in ensuring effective follow up of the UPR outcomes as well as promoting human rights in the country as mandated by the Constitution of Rwanda. It is within this context that the HRA
 
office together with the Commission planned a three day training targeting NCHR officials from across the country.

Opening ceremony:

The training was officially opened on May 22through statements  delivered by the NCHR chairperson, Madeleine Nirere, and the UN Resident  coordinator a.i   Mr. Opia Mensah Kumah in which both reiterated the importance of follow up of the UPR  outcomes  in Rwanda. This official ceremony was attended by UN agencies (UNHCR, UNDP, UNWOMEN, UNV, IOM, UNWOMEN and UNICEF), diplomatic corps (France, South Africa, UK, Belgium, Egypt, EU delegation), representatives of ministries (MIDIMAR, MINAFFET, MINIJUST), CSOs (Civil society forum, Human Rights Watch, LDGL…) and  the media.


Objectives and process of the training:

This training pursued a set of objectives, which were:

•    To strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission to promote human rights;
•    To improve the knowledge and reference of the Commission to international human rights standards and the core conventions that Rwanda is party to therefore building Rwanda’s capacity to meet its treaty and related normative obligations;
•    To increase the capacity of the Commission to follow up on the UPR outcomes;
•    To enhance the capacity of the officials of the Commission to monitor and report on human rights violations as mandated by the Constitution.

39 members  of the NCHR,  including, the 7 commissioners, the vice-president  and the chairperson of the Commission attended the training.
The first 2 days were dedicated to 7 learning sessions, which provided the participants with the knowledge and technical tools to meet the objectives of the training.
 
Presentations where delivered by:

-    Chris Mburu, Senior Human Rights Adviser to UNCT

-    Christine Umubyeyi, Observatory of children rights’ officer

-    Etienne NKERABIGWI, legal officer to MINAFFET

-    Eugene Rusanganwa, Principal state attorney at MINIJUST

-    Epimack Kwokwo, LDGL

-    Romain Ravet, HRA’s office

The sessions engaged the participants on discussions around the regional and international human rights protection mechanisms, the role the NCHR plays in promoting human rights in the country, the UPR processes,  the monitoring of human rights violations and the collaboration between the NCHR and CSOs.
These sessions all aimed at preparing the participants to the group exercises held on Day 3.

-    Mr. Nkongoli Laurent, lawyer and member of NCHR, presented a case-study on the application of the Convention  against  Torture  in a case in the national courts  of Rwanda where a victim of torture by the police sued the Government of Rwanda.
-    The HRA’s office organized a “World café” brainstorming, which led participants to deliver recommendations about key strategic points.

Out of these two exercises, facilitators and participants were able to come up with baselines for  an enhanced strategy  of  the  NCHR  in  implementing and monitoring  the recommendations of the UPR.
Participants expressed their satisfaction over the training in terms of improvement of their knowledge around international law, the process of the UPR and the implementation of its recommendations as well as skills for an efficient monitoring of Human Rights all around the country.
Therefore, not only the training met its initial objectives, but it also succeeded into putting together different stakeholders  like NHRIs  and CSOs,  which paved the way towards  a strengthened and well-rounded collaboration around the implementation and monitoring of the UPR.