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REPORT ON THE EXPLORATORY VISIT TO RWANDA FROM 23 TO JANUARY 28 2009, BY THE DELEGATION OF THE COMBATANTS OF RUD/ RPR AND THEIR DEPENDENTS

At the invitation of the Government of Kigali and the international community and between 23 and 28 January 2008, a delegation of the combatants and their depending on the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD)/ Rally of the Rwandan People (RPR) conducted an exploratory visit to Rwanda. The visit was included in the framework of the Peace Process initiated in Rome on May 9, 2008 between the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a coalition between RUD and RPR, under the facilitation of the Community Sant' Egidio. The Roadmap of the process was published in Kisangani on May 26, 2008.

A first group of combattants of RUD/RPR voluntarily disarmed in an official ceremony held in Kasiki, Lubero, on July 31 2008. The combatants, their dependents and other Rwandan refugees were subsequently grouped in Kasiki.

1. Objectives of the Exploratory Visit

The exploratory visit to Rwanda was organized in order for the delegation to enquire about the security conditions and social, economical, and political participation of Rwandans inside Rwanda with the purpose of a voluntary and peaceful repatriation of Rwandan refugees.

2. Execution of the Visit

The visit was concluded within the scheduled period. The delegation received adequate security and logistical support from MONUC and JMG. The Church of the Christ in Congo (ECC) facilitated a comfortable stay. The program of the visit is described in sections 7-10 below.

3.Some obstacles during the Visit

The government of Kigali hindered the execution of the initially agreed upon schedule. On several occasions, the representatives of the government of Kigali refused access to certain sites scheduled for visit. Government officials prevented quick access to several sites the delegation visited without previously scheduling the time, especially the prisons, arguing that they needed more time to prepare the places for the visit or to obtain additional authorizations from hierarchical authorities in Kigali. Thus for example:

  • In the prison of Nsinda, government officials refused the access and/or the free communication with the prisoners;

  • In Kigali, government officials refused access to the proceedings of the Gacaca court of Biryogo that was in session in the case of a certain Mr. François Byuma;

  • At the Cathedral of Kabgayi, no government official was present to allow us access to the

  • Cathedral;

  • At the Memorial of Gisozi, the officials of the government of Kigali refused the delegation the authorization to take pictures;

  • At The Memorial of Gisozi, government officials expelled the women members of the delegation under the pretext that their babies were crying;

  • Government officials denied the delegation of RUD / RPR combatants to visit the members of their organizations (RUD / RPR) held in Rwanda prisons.

4. Facts and information gathered

  • Several former combatants voluntarily repatriated from the RDC were recently sent back into RDC to fight within the ranks of the CNDP of Laurent Nkunda or in the hunting down of Rwandan refugees. These former combatants include: Captain Fataki, Lt Ndarugaragaje Eugene aka Job, Lt Datsuni, Sgt Ziraboneye, Cpl Nizeyimana, Cpl Karekezi Damien aka Mapendo, Cpl opr Ambuabi Ferdinand and a lot of others;

  • Most recently, at least 20 prisoners in the central prison of Gitarama died from hunger;

  • In Nsinda prison, there are many inmates who have just spent 14 years in jail without being charged;

  • In Nsinda prison, each inmate was fed one cup of corn per day;

  • In the city of Kigali, private properties are seized by the government and buildings allegedly not meeting the norms are destroyed without adequate compensation to the owners. Even the inadequate compensation is distributed after a long delay.

  • Most of the people the delegation met, in private or personally, gave the impression of being terrified, and confided they were listened to or spied on by the Rwandan intelligence services;

  • ?Most of ordinary people the delegation talked to in private said they were terrorized by government militias, Local Defense Forces (LDF);

  • ?The people we met indicated that only Tutsis and RPF members may work in administrative positions, the police or the military;

  • ?Many people have entrusted to the delegation that the RPF enroll through intimidation and/ or by force and indicated that they were forced to vote for the RPF candidates in recent elections;

5. Findings

  • The representatives of the government of Kigali consistently avoided addressing our questions;
  • The delegation was welcomed by the Council of Protestants Churches in Rwanda (CPR) and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom accredited to Rwanda;
  • When the prisoners return to prisons from forced labor, they have to kneel down to receive orders from prison wardens;
  • In the visited schools, the delegation did not meet any of ex-combatants who returned from RDC;
  • The owners of fields and farms seized by the government to build and set up the villages "Indatwa" receive no compensation;
  • The processes in the current Gacaca court do not deliver fair and equitable justice;
  • The 1994 Memorial in Gisozi incites ethnic hatred.

6. Recommendations/Conclusions

  • he obstacles to the voluntary repatriation persist in Rwanda; The obstacles include:
  • the pervasive lack of security for individuals;
  • the terror by government militias, Local Defense Forces (LDF), et intelligence services;
  • the harassment, targeting one ethnic group, fabrication of accusations and general lack of justice in the Gacaca courts;
  • lack of freedom in political and social participation; 
  • selective exclusion of Hutus from government jobs, the army, the police et businesses;
  • arbitrary confiscation of private properties without compensation;
  • forced labor in Travaux d’Intérêt Generaux (TIG);
  • cruel treatment of prisoners et detainees;
  • forced recruitment of ex-combatants and their return to fight in RDC within CNDP or Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) ranks.
  • The Government of Kigali must come to sensitize those that remain reluctant to the voluntary repatriation, instead of resorting the weapons
  • The refugees who voluntarily return must be followed for a long time by a joint and independent commission, without interference of the government of Kigali.

7. Initial Program of Visit:

7.1. Gisenyi: Nkamira. Transit Center

7.2. Ruhengeri: Mutobo Center.

7.3. Kigali ville:

  • Prison of Mulindi
  • Prison 1930
  • Former President Pasteur Bizimungu
  • Ambassador of United Kingdom in Rwanda
  • 1994 Memorial of Gisozi
  • Conseil Protestant au Rwanda (CPR).

7.4. Gitarama:

  • Cathedrale of Kabgayi: Catholic Cemetary
  • Ibuka
  • Secondary School of Mushubati
  • TIG
  • Prison of Gitarama
  • Gacaca Courts.

7.5. Umutara

  • Prison of Nyagatare: Bizimungu Séraphin alias Amani Mahoro
  • Village Indatwa

8. Visits Conducted:

8.1. Gisenyi: Town and Road Gisenyi- Ruhengeri.

8.2. Ruhengeri: Center of Mutobo.

8.3. Kigali ville:

  • Ambassador of United Kingdom in Rwanda
  • 1994 Memorial of Gisozi
  • Conseil Protestant au Rwanda (CPR).

8.4. Gitarama:

  • Mushubati Secondary School (ACJ Karama)
  • Cathedral of Kabgayi – no Rwandan official was available to authorize the visit.

8.5.Umutara

9.Visits Conducted, but not initially planned

9.1.Kigali: Gacaca court in Gikondo.

9.2.Gitarama: Kabgayi Hospital.

9.3.Kibungo:

  • Professional Education Center of Rwari
  • Village Indatwa of Kabarondo
  • Prison of Nsinda.

10.Visits initially planned but not conducted:

10.1.Gisenyi: Center of Nkamira.

10.2.Kigali:

  • Prison of Mulindi.
  • Prison 1930
  • Ex-President Pasteur Bizimungu

10.3. Gitarama:

  • TIG
  • Ibuka
  • Prison of Gitarama.
  • Religious Cemetery

10.4. Mutara:

  • Prison of Nyagatare (Bizimungu Seraphin)

Done in Kasiki, February 1, 2009.

Benoit Barabwiriza.

Leader of the Delegation

Signed