· Madam KAYITESI Zainabo Sylvie, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
· Honourable Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
· Honourable Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples ‘Rights;
· The Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights;
· Distinguished, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Republic of Rwanda is honoured to host this series of important meetings bringing together both the commissioners from the African Commission and the Judges of the African court. It is a testimony of the good relationship that Rwanda has with both the Commission and the Court that you have chosen to spend this three week period here from the 14th to the 29th of July 2014.We are very happy to have you here and we hope that you are enjoying your time here so much so that you will come again.
I must warn you however that Rwanda can be quite addictive and many people intend to come for a short stay but they end up staying for much longer!
- Rwanda’s Relationship with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Rwanda has been partnering with the African commission since the African Charter came into force in 1986.We have since consistently demonstrated a commitment to regional and international human rights by regularly reporting on the human rights situation in the country and working to implement the recommendations given.
Notably, Rwanda has set an example for Africa and the rest of the world in the empowerment of women. As is now widely known we have the highest number of women in government, both in Parliament and in the executive. We are also working to improve the participation of women at the local level.
Rwanda has also demonstrated a commitment to the African Charter regime by regularly submitting our periodic reports to the commission and in fact we are currently working on several reports including:
· The 11th to 12th periodic report of implementation of the African Charter;
· The initial report on the implementation of the Maputo Protocol and
· The initial report on the implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;
· We have also recently submitted our second and third reports on the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Rwanda recognises the importance of reporting as well as the other mechanisms in place to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. The government of Rwanda therefore pledges to continue doing everything in our power to make sure that every Rwandan continues to enjoy those rights.
- Rwanda’s Relationship with the African Court on Human and Peoples ‘Rights
In the quest to realize the equality and personal dignity of every citizen of Africa, the African court on human and people’s rights plays a very important role. It is in the recognition of that role that we have recently elected to extend the mandate of the Court to receive petitions involving the Republic of Rwanda, filed by individuals and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with observer status before the African Commission of Human and Peoples’.
I am also particularly intrigued by the ongoing discussions to extend the jurisdiction of the court to cover international crimes. Should that idea become operational it will lend some practical application to the principle of finding solutions to Africa’s challenges here in Africa.
As our own Gacaca experiment here in Rwanda has shown, Africa must find solutions to Africa’s problems. The relative success of the Gacaca especially when compared to the ICTR is an eternal demonstration that this principle cannot be ignored.
Through Gacaca, Rwanda has achieved a considerable degree of reconciliation and justice. Almost two million cases were tried. The Gacaca experience continues to serve as an inspiration to societies facing similar challenges both in Africa and elsewhere.
It is particularly unfortunate that almost all of the conflict in the world is happening in Africa. This places a big challenge on institutions charged with peace and security as well as human rights. Where there is political instability, there are also often challenges to the human rights standards.
We therefore all need to put our heads together to continue working towards finding peaceful solutions for Africa’s conflict areas.
That is why I am pleased to see that the Commission and the Court have begun the culture of having these joint meetings. I believe that with all of these great minds gathered together we shall continue to see innovative resolutions that speak directly to the dynamic challenges facing Africa today.
Allow me once again, to extend my warmest welcome to you to the land of a thousand hills on behalf of the government of Rwanda. I wish you fruitful deliberations