Every year, the United Nations chooses a theme on which all celebrations focus by highlighting one of the existing human rights concerns. This year’s theme “Our rights. Our freedoms. Always.” was adopted by United Nations and it aims at promoting and raising awareness of the 50th anniversary of two International Covenants on human rights, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966. The year-long campaign also revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms, recalling the four freedoms –freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want-that underpin the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two covenants.
The Rwanda National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), established in 1999, has been organizing celebrations every year and this year’s celebration took place in Kageyo Sector of Gicumbi District, Northern Province, with the participation of the population of the area including students from higher learning institutions located in the District.
This day was marked by different speakers from different institutions among which several governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights were invited to the celebration.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and supported by One UN in Rwanda, NCHR has chosen this year’s theme as this: ‘Let us increase our efforts in preventing, combating and denouncing domestic human rights violations’ (Turusheho gukumira, kwirinda no kugaragaza ihungabanywa ry’uburenganzira bwa Muntu rikorerwa mu ngo).
It is important to recognize that domestic human rights violations are issues that have negative impact on the full enjoyment of human rights. That is why, basing on different cases encountered countrywide, the theme was chosen with the purpose of raising alarm about the negative impact of those violations. Combatting domestic human rights violations goes hand in hand with combatting gender-based violence which includes violence relating to access to property, physical violence, mental violence, sexual violence or degrading actions perpetrated in homes or families and that can as well be done against a woman or a man.
Talking about the celebration of the International Human Rights Day, the Chairperson NCHR, Ms. NIRERE Madeleine, says that “through the commemoration of International Human Rights Days, the Commission was aiming at enhancing the understanding of Rwandans as far as human rights issues are concerned and developing culture of human rights respect. It was also aiming at raising the awareness of the population on their rights and liberties expressed in the two covenants (ICCPR and ICESCR). Moreover, it sensitized Rwandan population about their responsibilities for the fulfillment of their rights, their duties and avoiding from domestic human rights violations”.
The NCHR wants to ensure that at the end of the year 2015-2016 long campaign, Rwandans will have learned extensively about their rights in general, civil and political, socio-economic and cultural rights in particular, which reflect the foundation of their dignity.