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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Rwandan rights abuses under fire
Victims' bones are reburied
Thousands of people were implicated in the genocide
Rwanda's Government has been sharply criticised for its treatment of genocide suspects awaiting trial, and for abuses against suspected political opponents.

A report by Amnesty International focuses on the tens of thousands of genocide suspects which it says are being held in "inhuman conditions" in Rwandan prisons.

And the New York-based group Human Rights Watch has raised concerns over the persecution of government opponents in the name of state security.


The Rwandan Government has still not fulfilled its pledges to release all those against whom there is no evidence.

Amnesty International

Amnesty said Rwanda's prison population totalled 125,000, of whom more than 90% had been held as suspects since 1994.

While a United Nations tribunal is trying the architects of the Rwandan genocide, Rwanda is attempting to process the mass of killers through its own overloaded justice system.

Many of the 800,000 genocidal killings were carried out by ordinary Hutu civilians acting on the orders of local officials or the notorious broadcaster, Radio et Television Libre des Mille Collines.

The killings ended as the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) swept to power. The RPF dominates the present Rwandan Government.

Slow legal process

Amnesty also criticised the slow legal processes which had led to the long detentions.

"The Rwandan Government has taken some steps to tackle the huge number of cases awaiting trial but has still not fulfilled its pledges to release all those against whom there is no evidence or who have been unlawfully detained," Amnesty said.

The organisation's report cites overcrowding, poor hygiene, torture and ill-treatment in prisons and detention centres.

Monarchist plot?

A separate report by Human Rights Watch accuses the Rwandan Government of using security fears as a smokescreen for human rights abuses.

The report takes up the case of Joseph Kabuye Sebarenzi - the former speaker of the National Assembly who fled Rwanda - saying he feared assassination after having been accused of supporting the return of the former Rwandan king.

The former speaker is one of several people who the report says have suffered rights abuses on the grounds of their suspected links to a monarchist conspiracy.

King Kigeri Ndahindurwa, who was ousted by a Hutu-led revolution in 1959, now lives in exile in the United States.

Disappearances

HRW also says Rwanda operates illegal places of detention into which people have disappeared for months.

The organisation lists killings and other abuses committed by government-backed militia.

But the report also reports attacks on civilians by armed groups operating from outside Rwanda.

"It's true that the Rwandan government faces some risk of attack by armed groups, and some dissent within its population," said HRW consultant Alison des Forges.

"But neither can be used to justify abuses against its own citizens."

The Rwandan Government has long been wary of the threat from the Hutu extremist perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, who took refuge in what was then Zaire - now Democratic Republic of the Congo - after the RPF-led government came to power.

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See also:

22 Apr 00 | Africa
Rwanda's Kagame sworn in
01 Apr 00 | Africa
Rwanda genocide death sentences
28 Feb 00 | Africa
Rwandan PM resigns
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