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UN Commends Human Rights Change in Rwanda

Rwanda has presented the combined second to fourth periodic report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The committee commended Rwanda for the advancement as far as the periodic review is concerned.

The report described the country’s implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The delegation of Rwanda consisted of representatives from the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Justice.

Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva Soline Nyirahabimana while introducing the report told the committee that the 1994 genocide had left Rwanda with no institutional framework.

Nyirahibimana said that Rwanda had made significant efforts to rebuild its social and cultural structures. Rwanda had ascended to many human rights treaties, and would shortly ratify the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

Optional Protocols are meant to provide for procedures with regard to the treaty or address a substantive area related to the treaty. Optional Protocols to human rights treaties are treaties in their own right, and are open to signature, accession or ratification by countries who are party to the main treaty.

In the report to the committee it was shown that number of health centres had increased, as had the number of district hospitals and new categories of health services at the local level have also been provided.

On education it was Nyirahabimana said that barriers that prevented children from attaining primary education were being gradually broken down through ensuring free education. Rwanda has introduced free 12 years basic education.

Committee Experts asked many questions ranging from social and economic, to which the Rwandan delegation gave expansive answers.

However, Nyirahabimana said that where some answers were not found, such as on the statistics, it was a lesson learned for the State party.

She said that the questions asked would inspire the next report. Rwanda as a country was at the very beginning and it was determined to move forward quickly.

“The country looked forward to developing and uplifting the people. The Covenant covered a difficult set of rights to protect, as they required financing, budgets and structures. Rwanda did not lack the will to implement and promote the rights of the Covenant, instead it lacked the means,” she concluded.

Nicolaas Jan Schrijver, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Rwanda in the committee said that much had been done to answer the many and varied questions of the Committee, though he noted that some questions had still not been answered.

Committee Chairperson Zdzislaw Kedzia, said that the discussions had helped understand Rwanda’s approach.

“A lesson to be learned by the delegation was that the questions posed were quite specific and data and examples were needed. The assertion of the delegation that the next report would be delivered on time was most welcome,” he said