Participants to the workshop on NPM pose in a group photo after the opening ceremony by Hon Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Busingye Jonhston (Photo: NCHR 2018)

 

In collaboration with the Association of Prevention against Torture (APT), the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) organized a two day workshop, from 29th-30th January 2018 in Kigali that brought together participants from the Commission, Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) staff and Parliament legal researchers. The objectives of the workshop were of strengthening knowledge the guiding principles for the establishment and good functioning of a NPM that shall be integrated in the NCHR New Law in order to have an NPM in compliance with the OPCAT in the Rwandan context.

 

It was also to provide the participants with tools, skills and approaches to support the preventive work of the NCHR and future NPM as well as the implementation of measures on the prohibition and prevention of torture, and ill-treatment in general.

 

Another objective was to strengthen the knowledge of participants on the NPM Draft Law in order to ensure their effective support to the NPM Draft Law process, including its presentation to Parliament Committees.

 

In his opening statement, Hon the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Busingye Johnston said that “In order to comply with OPCAT to establish an independent NPM, Rwanda has chosen to reinforce the independent National Commission for Human Rights which is an existing institution mandated to promote, protect and preserve human rights, rather than create an altogether new and separate institution which would add little value, but would rather create duplication and resource difficulties”.

 

He stated that the Cabinet adopted a draft law modifying and complementing the current law determining the missions, organization and functioning of the National Commission for Human Rights, and the draft law gives specific powers and responsibilities to the NCHR to prevent torture. Once the draft law approved by the Parliament, the mechanism will be within the Commission.

 

The Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights, Ms. Nirere Madeleine, recognized the Government of Rwanda for its commitment to prevent and prohibit torture in Rwanda, which is a grave violation of human rights and completely unacceptable.

 

She reminded that Rwanda has ratified the Convention against torture in 2008 and its Optional Protocol (OPCAT) on 12 February 2014 by the Presidential Order No 60/01 of 12/02/2014 and submitted the instrument of the ratification in July 2015. “It is important to note that the ratification of the Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, is a tangible indication of the Rwanda Government’s commitment to prevent and combat torture which constitutes serious violations of human rights and completely unacceptable”, she added.

 

The Chairperson pointed out that, as indicated, one of the most effective legislative measures to prevent and combat torture is the ratification of the Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture by States. “This involves an obligation for States parties to set up, designate or maintain at the domestic level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as these are referred to in the instrument as  National Preventive Mechanisms( NPM)”, she said.

 

She recalled the Government of Rwanda to provide the National Preventive Mechanism with necessary security and stability by specifying its powers and ensuring its independence to enable its effective running.

 

The workshop was an opportunity to reflect on how best to integrate the guiding principles APT will share with national systems and processes as a way to achieve best results.