Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 16:14 UK

Rwanda denies sterilisation plans


Rwanda has strongly denied reports that its parliament is considering a draft law which would forcibly sterilise people who are mentally disabled.

Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, deputy speaker of parliament, was responding to a call by US-based activists Human Rights Watch to scrap the proposed law.

He also told the BBC that plans for HIV testing before couples get married are strictly voluntary, not compulsory.

Mr Ntawukuriryayo said the lobby group should check before releasing reports.

He said he had never seen a bill or provision which proposed forcible sterilisation.

Earlier, HRW's Joe Amon had said: "Provisions in the current bill that increase stigma, rely on coercion and deny... reproductive rights should be removed."

Forced sterilisation is regarded as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Rwanda has successfully managed to lower the spread of Aids in recent years thanks to its HIV campaign, according to World Bank figures.

"While Rwanda has made notable progress in fighting stigma and responding to the Aids epidemic, and has pledged to advance the rights of persons with disability, forced sterilisation and mandatory HIV testing do not contribute to those goals," said Mr Amon, the health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"These elements of the bill undermine reproductive health goals and undo decades of work to ensure respect for reproductive rights."

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