Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Peer questions Rwanda aid programme

A Liberal Democrat peer has raised concerns about UK aid to Rwanda in light of a recent report accusing the Rwandan military of illegal detention and torture.

Lord Chidgey drew attention to the report by Amnesty International - which claimed scores of people were being illegally detained and tortured by a military intelligence department known as J2 - during question time in the Lords on 21 November 2012.

The lobby groups says it documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment at two camps and in safe houses in the capital, Kigali, between March 2010 and June this year.

Lord Chidgey told peers the Rwandan military had also been backing rebels operating in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, which seized the eastern city of Goma earlier this week.

The UN Security Council backed a resolution calling for sanctions against the M23 group of rebels, which has threatened to march on the capital, Kinshasa.

"Surely both of these events are serious breaches of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that Rwanda signed with the United Kingdom just this September committing it to the principle of good governance, respect for human rights and the promotion of peace and stability in the Great Lakes region," Lord Chidgey said.

The Lib Dem peer asked Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi whether the government would curb Rwanda's aid programme "in the absence of compliance" with the MoU.

Former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell signed off £16m in aid to the Rwandan government on his last day in the job.

His successor, Justine Greening, said the UK would reflect "very carefully" before giving it any further aid.

Lady Warsi said the UK government took concerns about Rwanda "extremely seriously, which is why the minister for Africa is in the region".

She noted that "almost 45%" of Rwandan people live in "extreme poverty".

The Rwandan government has rejected the Amnesty International report and accused the group of seeking publicity.

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