The Human Rights Watch organization strongly refutes Rwanda’s claim that it falsified an HRW report on government repression, and says the countering allegations in Rwanda’s own report are “largely fabricated” and misrepresented the NGO’s work.
“The allegations by the National Commission for Human Rights show that Rwandan authorities are unwilling to tolerate criticism or make meaningful attempts to improve the country’s human rights record,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement released Wednesday. “Instead of discussing the findings with Human Rights Watch – before publication – as requested and opening serious investigations, Rwandan officials presented false accounts and threatened those who dared to speak out about the killings.”
HRW said it has carefully watched Rwandan authorities following the release of their October 13 report. In one case, the Rwandan government presented a man named Alphonse Majyambere – reported by HRW witnesses as the victim of an extrajudicial killing – at a press conference about the new report.
Only the name matched, HRW says. Witnesses say they were shocked to see that it was a different person entirely, 30 years older and from a different geographic location, than the one who had died.
HRW says it based the original report on research in Rwanda between January and July 2017, including interviews with 119 witnesses. “Human Rights Watch stands by its findings and strongly rejects the allegations” against those findings, the organization said, including Rwanda’s claims that it sympathizes with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) forces linked to human rights violations.
“Rwandan officials have repeatedly accused those perceived to be ‘against’ the government of collaboration with exiled opposition groups or armed groups such as the FDLR,” the HRW said.
HRW also has been the public target of government officials and in parliament since the report was released, and Rwanda has not renewed a memorandum that allows HRW to operate in the country since it expired in June 2017. HRW says the government has refused to meet with them on the matter.