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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Statement on the 28th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda


The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), through its focal point on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa, joins Rwanda, African Union (AU) member States and the international community in the commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, pursuant to Assembly/AU/Dec.695 of July 2018, designating 7th April of each year as the African Union Day of Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the UN General Assembly Decision 72/550 of 26 January 2018 designating 7th April as the International day of reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the African Commission’s Resolution on the commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the prevention of genocide and genocides denial and revisionism - ACHPR/Res. 485 (EXT.OS/XXXIII) 2021.

In marking this 28th commemoration of the most catastrophic tragedy in recent African and human history that claimed the lives of nearly a million mostly Tutsi Rwandese, the African Commission affirms the imperative of remembrance both in paying tribute to the victims whose lives were lost and in expressing its solidarity with and honoring the resilience of the survivors of the genocide.

The African Commission commends Rwanda for the remarkable progress that it has achieved in rising from the ashes of genocide, and urges the necessity for preventing reversals by both fighting against the ideology of genocide and genocide denialism, and upholding the rights and freedoms enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter).  

In commemorating this day, the African Commission also expresses its alarm by the spread hate speech, xenophobia, religious radicalism and extremism, violent nationalism, the propagation of inter-communal violence, and denialism of the 1994 genocide, which create the conditions for mass violence including genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.   

As this commemoration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the launching of the African Union, the African Commission recognizes that the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide also serves as a reminder for the reaffirmation of the legal commitment under Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act which embraces the pledge of ‘never again’. Heeding the lessons of the 1994 genocide and the promise of Article 4 (h) requires that the AU and the international community do not allow themselves to be spectators in the face of gross violations of human and peoples’ rights and international humanitarian law in various conflict situations on the continent.  

On this solemn occasion, the African Commission reiterates its earlier reminder that States parties to the African Charter bear primary responsibility for taking legislative, institutional and educational measures to prevent the conditions that lead to genocide and other forms of mass atrocities, and for enabling both the investigation of reports of mass atrocities and the provision of accountability and remedial measures, including through instituting transitional justice processes as envisaged in the AU Transitional Justice Policy and the African Commission’s Study on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights.   

   

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD

Commissioner African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Focal Point on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights