Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RWANDA: Amnesty denounces systematic use of torture

By Jean Mitari

May 30th, 2012. 

Amnesty International submitted a report, May 2012, to the UN Committee against torture denouncing the use of torture and other ill treatment by Rwandan military intelligence (DMI) and other security personnel.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International
The organization documented 18 allegations of torture and other ill-treatments. It also   outlined cases involving enforced disappearance, unlawful detention, and lack of access to lawyers, family members and medical assistance in contravention to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
According to the report, civilians who are unjustly arrested and detained in military prisons, are then subjected to inhuman treatments in order to force them to provide false evidence against their neighbors, family members or acquaintances.
“The culture of torture has been normalized in Rwanda” explained Erwin van der Borght, the Amnesty International representative in Africa to the BBC.
Based on surveys conducted by the organization during the last two years in Rwanda and reports from the UN committee against torture, van der Borght confirmed that at least 18 people were abducted and detained in clandestine jails, which are housed in military barracks, where they undergo cruel treatments.
It is especially the infamous Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), known for its cruelty, which is in the focusof Amnesty International investigations. The agency is suspected to have installed several prisons which in appearance are normal prisons but in reality are used as laboratories of torture, especially in the military barracks of Kami and Mukamira.
Methods of torture that are practiced in these torture camps include punches and kicks to people that are often chained or suspended. Electrocution is cited as the preferred method of torture used by torturers from the DMI.
Amnesty International also mentioned other methods of torture such as suffocation by a bag over one’s head for several hours with arms and feet chained behind. Moreover,  victims of torture are isolated in unlit cells without any possibility of seeing a legal counsel  or a doctor.
Amnesty International said  it interviewed many people who have been released and attested to have collected sufficient evidence concerning the increase of torture in Rwanda and the diversification of methods of torture. The use of torture sharply increased in Rwanda  during the period leading to 2010 presidential elections. That period was followed by  a climate of terror due to repeated throwing of grenades in the country’s capital - Kigali.
The organization sent letters to Gen. James Kabarebe, Rwandan Minister of Defence and Tharcisse Karugarama , Minister of Justice on 29 March 2012 summarizing some of the findings and requesting an official response in order to reflect the Rwandan government’s perspective. But Rwandan authorities have not replied.
Amnesty International expressed concern over the use of torture that is increasing in Rwanda in complete violation of all principles of human rights and dignity.
Note:Article Translated from its original French version by A. Tuyishime.


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