Categories: World

Rwanda: The US expresses its ‘concern’ about the human rights situation in the country

Rwanda: The US expresses its ‘concern’ about the human rights situation in the country

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed US concerns about human rights in Rwanda today during talks with President Paul Kagame in Kigali, the final stop on his African tour aimed at countering Russian influence.

He particularly referred to the issue of “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina, who has been serving a 25-year prison sentence since last year and has permanent resident status in the US.

Anthony Blinken made these statements during a short visit to Rwanda, the third and final stop on his African tour after South Africa and DR Congo.

This mini-tour, his second to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office, comes shortly after that of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who visited Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda in July.

Today, during a press conference in Kigali, Blinken expressed Washington’s “serious concerns” about human rights in Rwanda.

“As I told President Kagame, we believe that people in all countries should be able to express their opinions without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, violence and any other form of repression,” said Blinken.

He also underlined the “concerns” of the US about “the lack of guarantees for a fair trial” of Paul Rusesabagina.

The family of the latter had said, in a statement issued, that they expected from Blinken that his “direct commitment” would help put an end to the “nightmare” for them and their relative, whose health is deteriorating, as he said.

Paul Rusesabagina, 68, rose to fame in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, which shows how the moderate Hutu who ran the hotel in the Rwandan capital saved more than 1,000 people during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. In May, Washington assessed that it was being “unfairly detained” by Rwandan justice.

Ahead of the US Secretary of State’s arrival, civil society and NGOs had called on the US side to take a stand on the human rights situation, with Human Rights Watch calling on Blinken to “urgently interrogate (in Kigali) that there will be consequences for repression and rights abuses by the Rwandan government and beyond.”

Echoing the Observatory’s comments, Rwandan opposition figure Victoire Ingabire told AFP that Blinken was expected to “raise the issue of journalists and politicians who have been jailed” for opposing Paul Kagame’s government.

Anthony Blinken also said he discussed with Kagame the issue of Kigali’s alleged support for a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, M23, an issue he had discussed earlier in Kinshasa.

“Any support and cooperation with any armed organization in eastern DR Congo endangers local communities and regional stability, and each country in the region must respect the territorial integrity of others,” said Blinken.

According to a report by experts commissioned by the United Nations, and seen in early August by AFP, the Rwandan army “carried out military operations against armed organizations of the DR Congo and positions of the armed forces of the DR Congo” by the November 2021 and until June 2022. Kigali categorically denied this.

M23 is a Tutsi-dominated former rebel group that was defeated in 2013 and took up arms late last year, accusing Kinshasa of failing to honor agreements to demobilize and reintegrate its fighters.

Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting this rebellion, which Rwanda denies.

Source: Capital