Ordinary powers of the Commission
Article 7 of Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 states that in order to fulfil its mission, the Commission shall have the following powers:
1° to receive and consider testimonies on human rights violations;
2° to have access to any place where human rights violations are alleged or reported including places of detention for the purpose of investigations;
3° to contact, interrogate and seek explanations from any person likely to have testimony, information, responsibility and expertise deemed to enlighten the Commission on scrutinising and collecting human rights violation evidence;
4° to have access to documents, consult them on the spot or get their copies as well as any other document required by the Commission to be able to analyze and collect human rights violation evidence. Documents or items given to the Commission shall be returned to owners or organs of origin in a period not exceeding three (3) months;
5° to conduct mediation and conciliation between parties with human rights litigations where the mediation or conciliation does not contravene the law;
6° to request relevant organs to unconditionally restore the rights of any person where it appears that his/her rights have been violated;
7° to request relevant organs to bring to justice any person having committed offences related to the violations of human rights;
8° to carry out research on thematic issues and publish findings with the purpose of promoting human rights.
- Judicial police powers:
Article 8 of Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 states that “Commissioners shall have permanent judicial police powers throughout the territory of Rwanda while discharging their duties. If deemed necessary, a member of staff of the Commission may be given judicial police powers by competent authority upon request by the Chairperson of the Commission. Persons summoned by the Commission must appear, failure of which they shall be prosecuted in accordance with law”.
- Power to file legal actions
Article 9 of Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 states that “The Commission shall have powers to file legal proceedings in civil, commercial, labour and administrative matters for violation of human rights provided by the Constitution, international treaties ratified by Rwanda and other laws. In that regard, the Commission may be represented in courts by its employees authorized by relevant authority on the request of the Chairperson of the Commission. The Commission may also be represented by a council of its choice”.
Article 4 Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 determining missions, organisation and functioning of the National Commission for Human Rights provides that the overall mission of the Commission shall be to promote and protect Human Rights.
Special missions of the Commission
Article 5 of Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 states that special mission of the Commission regarding human rights promotion shall be:
1° to educate and sensitize the population on matters relating to human rights and participate in the development of human rights education programmes;
2° to collaborate with other organs in designing strategies to prevent violations of human rights;
3° to prepare and disseminate reports on the situation of human rights in Rwanda, annually and whenever necessary;
4° to provide views, upon request or at its own initiative on laws, regulations of public organs in force in the country and bills so as to ensure their conformity to fundamental principles of human rights;
5° to urge relevant government institutions to ratify international treaties related to human rights and incorporate them in the existing domestic laws;
6° to urge relevant government institutions to submit on time the reports related to international treaties on human rights ratified by Rwanda;
7° to propose to relevant government authorities measures to be taken to address and punish in accordance with law any violation of human rights;
8° to collaborate with other foreign national human rights institutions, local associations and international organisations in human rights promotion and protection activities.
Article 6 of Law n° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 states that regarding the protection of human rights, the special mission of the Commission shall be:
1° to receive, examine and investigate complaints relating to human rights violations;
2° to examine human rights violations in Rwanda committed by State organs, those who work in the public service abusing their powers, associations and individuals;
3° to carry out visits to custodial places with the purpose of inspecting whether the rights of detainees are respected and urge relevant authorities to address identified cases of violation of the rights of detainees;
4° to particularly monitor respect for the rights of the child, women, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, refugees, migrant workers and members of their families and elderly;
5° to monitor respect for human rights throughout elections process and submit report to relevant organs.