Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Answers Question On Rwanda

Chamber Letter on the political situation in Rwanda
New event date: 07/30/2010
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Chamber Letter on the political situation in Rwanda

Chamber Letter | July 30, 2010

Like I give you here my response to your questions and comments from three groups of the standing committee for Foreign Affairs of July 9, 2010 (reference 29 237, No. 122), following my letter of
July 1 2010 on the political situation in Rwanda. For the sake of readability, the questions and answers below, grouped by topic.

Election

Questions PvdA:

Why is the European Commission rejected the demand of the Netherlands and some other Member States to become a full EU observation mission. What arguments the Commission had before? Have been possible at this point the Council to raise, and the Netherlands considered this? Can the Minister indicate whether he thinks that a Commonwealth observer mission in a proportionate and appropriate manner will monitor the process?


Questions CDA group:

Could the minister explain why the European Commission has ignored the request for a fully-fledged EU Observation Mission, the Netherlands and how this strange decision been raised? Sufficient that the Rwandan authorities the recommendations of the EU observer mission in 2008 almost in their entirety have adopted? Is not it all the more reason to monitor the elections to determine whether the accepted recommendations into practice are complied with? Can the Minister indicate which recommendations were not adopted and what the reason is? Are donors, particularly the Netherlands, now involved in the preparations for the elections? If not, why not? What does an EU election expert mission, what is status, who are sitting here and how does this compare to the Commonwealth observer mission?

Response of the government:

As your committee, I regret that in the forthcoming presidential elections without the full EU observer mission will be. Annually by the European Commission, the number of elections in different regions are identified and is determined of available resources and the conditions in the respective countries rated the appropriateness of observation. In 16 African countries are elections this year. To Rwanda was in weighing less priority because of its relative stability in the country at that time and the general expectation that the incumbent President Kagame, a large majority of the votes would achieve. The Netherlands has a number of EU partners advocated sending an observation mission, but this was insufficient to support the Commission and other EU countries. Agenda items considered at the Council I therefore meaningless.

The EU election expert mission which is composed of four experts chosen and has already begun to critically monitor the electoral process in Rwanda. The mission will not formally report and no public comment on the conduct of the elections. An expert mission to its nature be an EU internal informatierol but useful. Various organizations will send observers to the elections monitoring. The regional human rights organization LDGL (Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs) will 180 send observers, the Platform for Non-Governmental Organizations 545, the Forum for Political Parties around 100, the National University of Rwanda about 60 and National Human Rights Commission 62 observers. The Commonwealth observer mission is expected to send about 18 men. The number of observers from the African Union, the East African Union and the diplomatic missions in Rwanda is still unknown. There is no reason to change the quality of international and local observers to dispute, but the Dutch government would nevertheless like an EU observer seen a significant number of additional observers would have injected.

The EU observer mission in early 2009 released a report on the elections in September 2008, made strong recommendations. Most (at least the main) recommendations are contained in the new electoral law. The EU placed particular questioned the transparency level of the electoral process and the consolidation of votes. The new law has eliminated these concerns. Thus the rights of election monitors and better defined, the counting of votes immediately after closure of the offices start. Still remain some concerns, including the fact that for particular categories of voters (eg, people in hospitals and prisoners) no provision has been made. Also shoot the French and English translations of the Electoral Act and there are shortages.

Absence and opposition party

Questions PvdA:

Is the Minister aware on what grounds the United Democratic Forces Inkingi (Inkingi UDF) and the Green Party or Democratic Rwanda (DGPR) registration for the elections has declined? If so, can the minister give an assessment? The refusal is in line with Rwandan law? And if so, how does the Minister on the legislation? Does the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties (PCC) and consortium still tried to participate in the elections? Are the requirements of the PCC sets the elections, which in addition to registration of the UDF and an independent electoral commission DGPR with members of the opposition in and a cessation of public funding of the campaign for the incumbent president, according to the minister right? Is the minister aware of the allegation that President Kagame public money used to help finance his campaign is well founded?

Response of the government:

On July 2 this year closed the registration deadline for participation in presidential elections. The three new opposition party, the United Democratic Forces Inkingi (UDF), the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) and the Social Party-Imberakuri (PSI), have no candidates nominated, partly due to internal party problems, partly because of legal requirements and administrative obstacles. The UDF as a party could not register because of the ongoing judicial investigation into the party leader, mrs. Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire. Ms. Ingabire is suspected of genocide-denial, division ism and maintaining links with a terrorist organization. Frank Habineza, leader of the DGPR, wanted the party directly, ie without the statutory pre-setting session, presenting the Minister, which as unconstitutional was assessed. While the PSI is registered as a party, but a candidate was not nominated. At a general meeting, party leader and deposed Ntaganda Christiane Mukabunani appointed new party leader. She considers it too early to participate in the elections.

The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties (PCC) has never had the intention to participate as a consortium to participate in the elections. The consortium is not a party but a platform formed by the two party leaders and Habineza Ingabire and former party leader Ntaganda.

The claim of the PCC that the independence of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) would only be guaranteed through the participation of opposition is not shared by me. The PCC is the fact that the chairman of the NEC is a member of the RPF. Neutrality, however, effectively monitored by the co-chair a donor. Netherlands since July 2010 as co-chairman of the NEC is active and is also responsible for setting the agenda and it is taken up by specific topics. The NEC is directly involved in the process for the adjustment of the electoral law and also responsible for the electoral process. The NEC shall also ensure that the fairness of the campaign, eg by checking that the media focus on their current four candidates distribute evenly. The registration of presidential candidates was held at the NEC.

Netherlands contributes 1 million euros to fund the so-called basket of the NEC, which total about 22 million USD less. The European Commission and the United Kingdom, containing the largest contributors. The total budget of the NEC for the period 2008-2011 is about USD 55 million, of which more than half of the Rwandan government comes. The aforementioned regional human rights organization LDGL and the National University of Rwanda are also financially supported by the Dutch embassy. LDGL is also supported by the Dutch private organizations.

Based on the Rwandan law is about 500,000 euros available in tax money for political parties to campaign. That amount is in proportion to the paid seats. Parties also receive, if they have more than five percent of the seats occupied, including a contribution in kind (computers etc.). The RPF will therefore, most (53 of 75 seats) of these public funds. Finally, the president enjoys his position been much attention in the media and elsewhere. Regarding the origin of the remaining resources of the party, the National Ombudsman of Rwanda no irregularities were found.

Freedom of expression and division ism

Questions PvdA:

Is known when the Rwandan Minister of Justice investigation into the use of new laws against division-ism and genodice will complete denial? How many prosecutions are exactly in this investigation? The Minister of Justice also specifically talked about this research during his visit to Rwanda? Netherlands would probably be helpful in this investigation since it is agreed that judicial cooperation to strengthen? On what facts have two papers to halt their publications? These are now completely closed, as required? How does the Minister these facts and the publication ban? Does the minister believe that the Rwandan government to a sharp limitation on the freedom of expression and press freedom?

SP Group Questions:

Can the Minister indicate what the Dutch embassy and the EU in Rwanda, under EU guidelines on human rights defenders, do to rights defenders, journalists and opposition politicians to assist if they are caught and / or in the courts be dropped?

Response of the government:

The 1994 genocide is obviously a serious mark on the political landscape of Rwanda, and led to a strong determination of the Rwandan government, through legislation to prevent people up against each other and extremist ideologies are propagated. With you I am of the opinion that such legislation may not carte blanche to the opposition and public debate to silence it. I therefore consider very important the willingness of the Rwandan government to the application and implementation of legislation in the field of genocide denial and division-ism to a closer examination. In total about 1000 cases are identified and analyzed. Besides this study are two external studies on the application of this legislation. The final results are expected in autumn. The Rwandan government has already declared the law will change as necessary. At present it is no role for the Netherlands.

The suppression by the independent Supreme Council of the Media to newspapers and Umuseso Umuvuzigi was imposed on the basis of published articles as inflammatory were reviewed and therefore contrary to media law. Both papers had already received warnings. A list of incidents since 2004, the Supreme Court made public. The suspension by the newspapers challenged through the courts, the case has been served and the final ruling is expected in July.

To implement the EU directive on human rights defenders, the Dutch embassy in 2008 called Focal Point for Human Rights set up human rights violations to human rights defenders, journalists, etc. at the earliest possible stage to discuss and take action if necessary. The group also consists of representatives of various embassies (EU, U.S., Canada) and NGOs (both locally and internationally, including Human Rights Watch). Issues surrounding freedom of expression, media law, the Constitution, the electoral law, the penal code concerning homosexuality and accreditation of NGOs and election observers are examples of issues through diplomatic channels, both bilaterally and together with other donors, the government raised.

Security Situation

SP Group Questions:

Does the minister's view including Human Rights Watch that the insecurity and political repression in the pre-election increase rap (HRW, June 26 last, "Rwanda: Stop Attacks on Journalists, Opponents')? Can the Minister indicate what his appreciation of the fact that many generals and other officers fled or fired or detained in recent months? Why has the Minister in matters not mentioned in his letter of July 1 this year?

Response of the government:

Since my letter of July 1 this year there have been no new grenade attacks occurred in Rwanda. After the murder of retired General Kayumba in South Africa and the reporter of the banned newspaper Umuvigizi July 14 this year, however, was the vice-president of the DGPR, Andre Rwisereka murdered. The background of this murder is still unclear. The investigations into these attacks are still continuing, and it is still uncertain whether in all cases, political motives. However, it should be clear that this series of violent incidents in the pre-election worries me.

Yet seems to have come to an end the many changes within the Ministry of Defence and the army leadership. Over the past two months is also high soldiers arrested on charges of corruption and immoral behavior.

Developments within the Defensietop in recent months, including the sudden flight of retired General Kayumba, have led to speculation about possible disagreements within the army and the RPF leadership. I consider this moment as an internal affair of Rwanda.

Extradition

Questions PvdA:

Can the Minister indicate what the conditions will be for a possible extradition treaty? When is the intention to agree on this far-reaching?

CDA Group Questions:

Can the Minister elaborate on the potential for an extradition treaty with Rwanda? How long does it take for such a treaty can be concluded and the Minister may give an indication how many people going?

Response from the government:

The Netherlands attaches great importance to the prosecution of suspects of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is preferable to those persons in the country of origin to justice. The legal system of the country of origin, however, guarantees of proper law to comply before they may be subject to extradition of suspects. The recent visit of the Minister of Justice sought to improve legal cooperation with Rwanda in order to strengthen the Rwandan legal system can meet these guarantees. This would create a situation in which the Netherlands could be an extradition treaty with Rwanda may conclude. A timeline for this is not established, nor has it to hand to indicate with certainty how many people would qualify for extradition. Increased cooperation between the Netherlands and Rwanda will mainly consist of exchange of knowledge and skills. One of the areas which the Netherlands will share expertise is witness. Further training will be given to judges, prosecutors and other professionals in the justice chain. Finally, the Rwandan Netherlands Institute for Legal Development in the coming years continue to support.

General budget support

Questions PvdA:

If it is true that President Kagame public money used to finance his campaign, which plays a role in whether the final budget support will be resumed? The minister wants the Court prior to the Joint Review about his commitment?

CDA Group Questions:

Does the Minister, whereas the human rights violations, limiting the freedom of speech and the increasingly deteriorating safety situation, the elections a government will give sufficient confidence to the suspended general budget support are actually making?

Response of the government:

As I said will in October this year a joint assessment (Joint Review) by the Rwandan government and the donors of the achievements made within the provided budget support. After that, the Dutch government take a decision on general budget support to Rwanda in 2011. Obviously, the conduct of the presidential elections and human rights situation in Rwanda this are included.

Political Dialogue

Questions PvdA:

Can the Minister explain what the results have been the so-called Article 8 dialogue which the Netherlands and EU partners, including on March 30 this year signed with the Rwandan authorities? What further steps have emerged from these talks? How does this dialogue is to held on June 28 last EU demarche?

CDA Group Questions:

Does the Minister the concerns of the CDA Group on violations of human rights, restricting freedom of expression and the increasingly deteriorating safety situation? If so, the Minister raised this in the contacts with the Rwandan government? If not, why not? If so, how? Has the EU demarche on June 28 this year we achieved results? How can the EU continue to pressure the Rwandan government?

SP Group Questions:

Can the Minister elaborate on what concrete during the EU demarche on June 28 last, was agreed? For example, have discussed or agreed criteria on what is "to facilitate an open political society in which freedom of expression and press freedom are respected" actually entails? How has responded by the Rwandan authorities? Are there any commitments made by them?

Response of the government:

On Tuesday, July 13 last, was the third article in August of this year's dialogue. Like previous times were the electoral process and the registration of opposition parties and candidates, the main topics. EU representatives stressed again that
Also, just after the presidential election, the registration of opposition parties is very important for the future democratization and stability of the country. The Dutch government will before and after the elections the situation regarding freedom of expression and press freedom (even in individual cases) closely follow the government to account.

Recent events give cause for concern about the situation in Rwanda. The Rwandan government last year put some positive steps such as modifying the electoral law in line with most of the EU recommendations and current legislation on the willingness genocide denial and division ism to critical scrutiny. I'm also worrying developments in the field of freedom of expression and violent incidents in the run up to elections. The political dialogue conducted and the recent demarche contribute to an open but also critical relationship between the Rwandan government and the European donors.

Structural involvement in Rwanda by the international community can continue to exert pressure for political space and increase the government should show its responsibility to create an open and democratic society.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Drs. M.J.M. Verhagen