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Rwanda celebrates 72nd anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Emmanuel Ntirenganya – The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has joined hands with other institutions to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 217 A (III) on 10 December 1948, after World War II that had claimed lives of more than 60 million people and caused other huge damages.

The Assembly made the declaration to underscore the unparalleled value of a human being, and that the human rights respect principle is the basis for peace and development in the world.

It is a milestone in the history of human rights which is a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations as it set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

On December 10 of every year, Rwanda joins the rest of the world to celebrate Human Rights Day.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”.

The theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.

Achievements made so far

The Commission is happy with the progress so far made in fulfilling its responsibilities as regards to promoting human rights and preventing torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Among the main achievements that the Commission has made since its establishment 21 years ago, there is building human rights awareness to many Rwandans through trainings and talks that were held with various categories including students, teachers in primary and secondary schools, as well as universities. Other categories are [ordinary] residents through community assemblies and the community works ‘Umuganda’, local administrative entities’ leaders, security agents, members of the justice sector, the representatives of faith-based organisations, youth and women’s organisations, detainees and prisoners, and historically marginalised groups.

They also include members of cooperatives, the representatives of the non-governmental organisations, ex-combatants of armed groups who returned into the country, as well as the volunteers of the Commission.

Students in Kayonza District during talks [intended to build their awareness about human rights] in 2017 (Photo credit: NCHR).

The Commission made and submitted its inputs to Parliament on different draft laws and followed the examination of those bills to ensure that Rwanda’s laws be based on the international human rights principles which are contained in the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda and the relevant international treaties that Rwanda ratified.

The Commission looked into the cases in which human rights violation was detected and submitted them to the responsible entities so that they handle them.

Most of the investigated cases are related to rights to property, the issue of domestic violence, right to justice, labour, life, to decent accommodation, to health [care], to welfare, right to protection from bodily and mental pain infliction, as well as child rights.

The child rights situation consisted of many aspects such as protection from defilement, access to education, knowing their parents and being raised by them, civil registration service, being raised in a family, protection from exhausting child labour and excessive punishment.

Moreover, every year, the Commission inspects compliance with human rights in prisons and detention facilities of the investigation department with the aim to know how the state of the respect of the rights of the prisoners and detainees, especially regarding the management of their files, their living conditions, and other entitlements provided for by the law.

The Commission also monitored the condition of respect of human rights in all other places accommodating people with limited movement rights (such as the Ingando camps for those [prisoners] who were carrying out TIG – community services as an alternative penalty to imprisonment, centres for people with disabilities, orphanages and centres for the elderly, rehabilitation and transit centres, as well as the centres for people with mental illness.

Still, the Commission assessed the respect of human rights in refugee camps, various election activities, and monitored proceedings in Gacaca jurisdictions and other courts in the country.

Researches on human rights conditions

The Commission also conducted researches on the rights of different categories including that on the respect of the rights of the historically marginalised Rwandans, orphans, children living on their own (child-headed households), street children, and children who do wage labour.

It also carried out research on the respect of rights of people with disability, the miners, the people moved from Gishwati forest [area] and resettled elsewhere, research on the killing, violence and persecution against Genocide survivors, witnesses and other people who showed willingness to expose the truth in Gacaca courts.

Other researches that the Commission did include that on the violation of right to life that was reported across the country, a study on the rights of workers in factories and private enterprises, and that on the rights of workers in the land transport subsector.

Also, the Commission conducted researches on the respect of the right to the execution of court judgment and court award, gender-based violence committed against children, the rights of children who taken from orphanages into [foster] families, on prohibited child labour, and human rights related to expropriation.

This year, the Commission trained the members of the National Women Council on the rights of a woman and the members of the family, and the students from secondary schools on preventing teenage pregnancies.

Commissioner Marie Sylvie Kawera while training members of the National Women Council in Huye District (Photo credit: NCHR).

In this period of the celebration of the 72nd anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Commission carried out different activities including training journalists and the law enforcers in the principles of human rights and international treaties.

Commissioner Sylvie UWERA delivering a talk at a Police college in Musanze (Photo credit: NCHR).

The Commission reminded all Rwandans to know and strive for the respect of human rights and sensitised everyone informs it about any case of infringement of such rights, via its toll-free phone number 34 30.

NCHR is recommitted to continue assuming its responsibilities as provided for by the law determining its missions, organization, and functions, for the prosperity of Rwandans.

(Source: The New Times)

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