Human Rights Developments
Nigeria=s human rights record failed to improve during 1996, despite international pressure on the military government of Gen. Sani Abacha following the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni rights activists on November 10, 1995. Political detentions, restrictions on freedom of expression and association, torture and summary executions, interference in the judicial process, appalling prison conditions, and other human rights violations continued, without noticeable efforts to check such abuses.
In January, military decrees formalized the Atransition program@ announced by head of state Gen. Sani Abacha on October 1, 1995, and local government elections were held in March 1996 on a Azero party@ basis. However, the elections were so compromised by executive interference that they could not be counted as a step forward. Guidelines for the registration of political parties published in June appeared designed to prevent any party from successfully fulfilling the stated criteria. Meanwhile, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 elections, Chief Moshood K.O. Abiola, passed his second year in detention. On June 4, Kudirat Abiola, Chief Abiola=s senior wife and most prominent campaigner on his behalf was assassinated in Lagos by unidentified gunmen presumed by most people to be acting on behalf of the government. Those convicted in 1995 of involvement in an alleged coup plot, including journalists and pro-democracy campaigners who had commented on the allegations, also remained incarcerated.
The decrees promulgated by successive military governments suspending constitutional guarantees of human rights, allowing detention without trial, and criminalizing criticism of the government or its policies, remained in force during 1996. The Transition to Civil Rule (Political Programme) Decree 1 of 1996 made it an offense to Amisrepresent, accuse or distort@ the transition program. Although the government lifted a controversial 1994 decree that suspended the operation of habeas corpus in case of detentions under the notorious Decree 2 of 1984, the courts remained barred from inquiring into the legality of detentions under Decree 2 or examining government actions under numerous other decrees. Other supposed reforms, including the appointment of a national human rights commission, the institution of a review panel to consider detentions on security grounds, and the restoration of a right to appeal in certain cases held before special tribunals appeared to be purely cosmetic and had no effect in practice.
Harassment of opposition activists remained severe, despite the nominal lifting of all restrictions on political activity by a fresh program for the restoration of civilian rule. Threats of violence were made against numerous activists, while other activists in Nigeria and in exile in Europe and the United States suffered attacks on their property, including arson, vandalism, and robbery. Many opposition and human rights activists were detained, for long or short periods, among them Frank Ovie Kokori, secretary-general of NUPENG (the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers), held since August 1994 and still in detention in October 1996. Some long-standing detainees were released during the year, including Chima Ubani, secretary-general of Democratic Alternative and a staff member of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Abdul Oroh, executive director of the CLO, and Tunji Abayomi of Human Rights Africa, all held for one year or more. Family members of opponents of the military regime were also targeted: in several cases children were believed to have been arrested in the hope that their parents would attempt to get them released, and thus expose themselves to arrest. Travel documents were confiscated from a number of human rights and opposition activists. Meetings and rallies were routinely disrupted by the security services.
Other pro-democracy activists and journalists remained in prison, following their convictions in 1995 before a special tribunal of involvement in an allegedCbut widely suspected to be inventedCcoup plot. The arrests followed their publication of information relating to the alleged plot and the trial of the military personnel accused of involvement. They included Beko Ransome-Kuti, chair of the Campaign for Democracy, and journalists Christine Anyanwu, Kunle Ajibade, George Mbah and Ben Charles-Obi. Among the military and former military officers convicted in the trial were former head of state Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy Musa Shehu Yar=Adua.
Although one of the strongest in Africa, the independent press remained under threat of government interference and harassment. In addition to frequent detentions and other persecution of journalists, newspaper offices suffered a number of arson attempts. In February, Alex Ibru, publisher of the independent newspaper The Guardian, survived an assassination attempt. Journalists with the foreign media were also targeted: in January, London Financial Times correspondent Paul Adams was detained for a week; in February, BBC World Service correspondent Hilary Anderson was detained overnight; and in July, a reporter for the Middle East News Agency was detained for a week. The broadcast media remained under virtual government monopoly, although an opposition radio station, ARadio Kudirat Nigeria,@ began broadcasting on short wave from outside the country on June 12, the anniversary of the 1993 elections.
Union activities continued to be restricted, in particular in the oil sector and on university campuses. In May, the federal Ministry of Education announced that the activities at the national level of unions at Nigerian universities, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), were banned, although chapters on individual campuses could continue to function. In August, ASUU and two other university unions were banned outright, and their assets confiscated. A number of ASUU members were detained at different times and meetings disrupted.
Nigerian citizens not involved in politics also continued to face a consistent pattern of human rights violations. Summary executions and torture by the security forces remained routine, while notoriously bad prison conditions failed to improve. Traders occupying markets constructed (with the permission of the local authorities) under or near highway flyovers in Lagos were removed by the security forces, with excessive force and without due process.
In Ogoniland, home of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), of which Ken Saro-Wiwa was leader before his execution in November 1995, repression continued during 1996. On January 4, three people were killed by security forces firing on crowds of Ogonis celebrating AOgoni Day.@ At least fifty Ogonis were detained following the celebrations. Others were detained around the visit of a fact-finding team appointed by the U.N. secretary-general in April and in other raids during the year. Meetings of MOSOP were disrupted, and activistsCincluding Ledum Mitee, the deputy president of MOSOP, who was acquitted of murder charges in the trial before a special tribunal leading to the execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight othersCwere harassed. Nineteen Ogonis remained in prison facing charges of murder before a special tribunal in connection with the same facts as those for which the Ogoni Nine were executed. The authorities showed no signs of actually bringing them to trial. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported in March that around 1,000 Ogonis had crossed the border to Benin; by September 600 Ogonis had been registered as refugees in Benin, and 400 still awaited interviews.
The Right to Monitor
Nigeria=s numerous and sophisticated human rights groups continued their activities of monitoring, advocacy and education throughout the year, despite routine harassment by the authorities. Seminars on human rights sponsored by the CLO, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, the Constitutional Rights Project (CRP), the Third World Forum, the Southern Minorities Movement and other groups were disrupted or prevented during the year by members of the state security services. Human rights activists were detained on numerous occasions; others were prevented from traveling abroad to attend the meetings of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights or other important meetings. Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the CLO, Ayo Obe, current president of the CLO, and Tunde Olugboji, project officer with the CRP, all had their passports confiscated during the year as they tried to leave Lagos to attend U.N. meetings. In November, Human Rights Watch honored Anyakwee Nsirimovu, the executive director of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at their annual human rights monitors ceremony for his work in eastern Nigeria.
The Role of the International Community
The November 10, 1995 executions of the Ogoni Nine caused a huge outcry from the international community. Sanctions put in place at the time of the annulment of the 1993 elections and the military coup which followed were strengthened and Nigeria was isolated to an unprecedented degree. Nevertheless, international attention on Nigeria lessened during 1996, as Nigeria=s major trading partners returned to protecting their short-term economic interests at the expense of human rights issues. The military government=s strategy of continuing to promise a Atransition@ to civilian rule appeared to be successful in fending off serious action against it.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Nigeria on December 22, 1995, in which it condemned the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others, welcomed the steps taken by the Commonwealth, and expressed Athe hope that these actions and other possible actions by other States@ would encourage Nigeria to restore democratic rule, thus (unusually) encouraging member states to impose their own sanctions even without Security Council action.
The U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution on April 22, in which it requested two thematic special rapporteurs (on the independence of judges and lawyers and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions) to submit a report on Nigeria at the next session of the Commission in 1997 and an interim report to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in late 1996. In October, the Nigerian government agreed to allow the two special rapporteurs to visit Nigeria at the end of November. However, a paragraph calling for the appointment of a special rapporteur on Nigeria, proposed by the member states of the European Union and supported by the U.S., was not adopted, largely because of the failure of African countries to support the measure. In March and April, a fact-finding mission sent by the U.N. secretary-general visited Nigeria and reported on the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogonis, as well as on progress toward the restoration of civilian rule. The report condemned the violations of due process during the trial, and recommended that compensation be paid to the families of those executed. The team also recommended a series of Aconfidence building measures@ including the release of political detainees.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee, monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), found severe violations of the ICCPR by Nigeria in April and July, on considering Nigeria=s first report submitted to the committee in accordance with the terms of the covenant. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered and denounced a number of cases of detention without trial in Nigeria. Different organs of the International Labour Organization conference also adopted resolutions condemning Nigeria=s violations of the right to freedom of association. No action has been taken against Nigeria at Security Council level.
All European Union member states recalled their ambassadors for consultation following the executions. By Common Positions of the Council of the European Union dated November 20, 1995 and December 4, 1995, European Union member states agreed to impose visa restrictions on members (including civilians) of the Nigerian Provisional Ruling Council and the Federal Executive Council and their families (in addition to members of the Nigerian military and security forces and their families, on whom restrictions were imposed in 1993); to expel all military personnel attached to the diplomatic missions of Nigeria in member states and to withdraw all military personnel attached to diplomatic missions of E.U. members in Nigeria; to deny visas to official delegations in the field of sports and to national teams; to introduce a prospective embargo on arms, munitions and military equipment (allowing existing contracts to be fulfilled); and to suspend development cooperation except to projects through nongovernmental organizations and local civilian authorities. These sanctions were extended in June, without discussion, and were to be reconsidered and extended or modified in November. Nigeria=s major European trading partners, including Britain, were opposed to further measures.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that was taking place in Auckland, New Zealand at the time of the executions immediately demonstrated its outrage by suspending Nigeria from the Commonwealth, the first time that this step had been taken. Nigeria was given two years to comply with the terms of the Commonwealth=s Harare Declaration, which committed Commonwealth members to democratic governance, failing which it would face expulsion. At the same meeting CHOGM adopted the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, which included a commitment to take measures in response to violations of the Harare principles. A Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) was appointed to deal with persistent violations, which committed itself to examining, in the first instance, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, the three Commonwealth countries without democratically elected governments at that time.
On April 23, following its second meeting, CMAG recommended various measures for implementation by Commonwealth members with regard to Nigeria, including visa restrictions on and denial of educational facilities to members of the Nigerian regime and their families, withdrawal of military attachés and cessation of military training, an embargo on the export of arms, a visa-based ban on sporting contacts, and the downgrading of diplomatic and cultural links. At a further meeting on June 24-25, however, the imposition of the sanctions agreed upon in April, which had been delayed to give Nigeria time to engage in dialogue with CMAG about its human rights record, was further postponed, although existing measures consequent on Nigeria=s suspension from the Commonwealth remained in place. In September, CMAG met again and announced that a fact-finding missionCwhich had previously been blocked by the Nigerian governmentCwould travel to Nigeria as soon as possible. No further sanctions would be imposed in the meantime. No guarantees were obtained that the fact-finding mission would be able to visit political detainees.
Organization of African Unity
African countries were in general reluctant to condemn Nigeria=s human rights record in strong terms. In December 1995, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim spoke against the response of the international community to the hangings of the Ogoni Nine, stating that, although the OAU would like to see a democratic Nigeria, with greater respect for human rights, Awe do not subscribe to the campaign to isolate Nigeria. ... We would not want anything to be done which would have the effect of destabilizing Nigeria.@
West African states, including Ghana, Niger, Senegal and the Gambia, indicated their support for Nigeria against Athreats to its sovereignty@ from the condemnation surrounding the November 10, 1995 executions. Southern African states, meeting at a summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in December 1995, also failed to take measures against Nigeria. The proposal for the appointment of a U.N. special rapporteur on Nigeria, included in the draft resolution submitted by E.U. member states to the 1996 meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, was not supported by most of the African delegates and had to be deleted before the resolution could be adopted.
At the CHOGM meeting in New Zealand in November 1995, South Africa led the call for strong action against Nigeria. South Africa became less outspoken in 1996, failing, for example, to support the proposal at the 1996 U.N. Commission on Human Rights meeting for the appointment of a special rapporteur on Nigeria. In July, President Mandela, speaking ahead of the OAU summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, acknowledged that AAfrica is not speaking with one voice,@ and indicated that he had Areceived representations from countries in West Africa as well as from [U.N. Secretary-General] Boutros Boutros-Ghali,@ who had reminded him that ANigeria is responsible for law and order in Sierra Leone and Liberia,@ as it contributes the largest contingent of troops to the West African peacekeeping force ECOMOG (the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group) in Liberia.
On December 18 and 19, 1995, at the insistence of Nigerian and international nongovernmental organizations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples= Rights (an organ of the OAU) held its second ever extraordinary session at Kampala, Uganda, in order to consider the human rights situation in Nigeria. The commission had been amongst those bodies pleading for clemency in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his codefendants after the death sentences were passed. The commission also resolved to send a fact-finding mission to Nigeria. Dates for the mission originally agreed with the Nigerian government for February fell through and by October no alternative dates had been set.
The United States also responded to the executions by recalling its ambassador, Walter Carrington, for consultation. In addition, it extended pre-existing restrictions on military links (which included the termination in July 1993 of all military assistance and training) by banning the sale and repair of military goods. It extended a pre-existing ban on the issue of visas to senior military officers and senior government officials and their families to cover Aall military officers and civilians who actively formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede Nigeria=s transition to democracy@; and introduced a requirement that Nigerian government officials visiting the U.N. or international financial institutions in the U.S. remain within twenty-five miles of those organizations. It also stated it would begin consultations immediately on appropriate U.N. measures. The U.S. government also cut the USAID budget, while reprogramming all USAID assistance exclusively through the nongovernmental sector.
In 1996, however, the U.S. like other countries was stronger on rhetoric than action. While the U.S. issued strong statements condemning military rule and human rights violations, no further concrete measures were adopted. In June, Assistant Secretary John Shattuck visited Nigeria and noted Aa steady deterioration in the human rights situation in Nigeria since 1993.@ Like the E.U., the United States publicly stated that all possible measures against Nigeria, without exclusion, were still under consideration; but no steps were announced by the administration to put these statements into effect.
Human Rights Developments
From the start of the year, the Rwandan government fought a growing threat from soldiers (ex-Armed Forces of Rwanda) and militia of the former government, who had been leading incursions from refugee camps in Zaire. The infiltrators, part of the force that carried out a genocide that killed at least half a million Tutsi and slaughtered thousands of Hutu moderates in 1994, remained committed to returning to Rwanda by force and to completing the extermination of the Tutsi. At first the infiltrators used bombs and mines to target electricity pylons, vehicles and buildings but during the course of the year, they moved to attacking civilians, primarily survivors of or witnesses to the genocide and local government officials. As they grew in confidence, the attackers penetrated further into the country, from the western regions closest to Lake Kivu and Zaire to areas quite to the capital. By October, the infiltrators had killed at least 278 people.
The current government=s Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) responded to the incursions by increasing patrols and search and cordon operations, during which some 600 people were killed through the month of October, many of them civilians. Military authorities sought to cover up these killings by unconvincing claims that civilian victims were infiltrators or their accomplices or were accidentally slain in exchanges of gunfire. In many cases, including one investigated by Human Rights Watch in the commune of Ramba, unarmed civilians were shot at close range or when they were in flight. The Ramba massacre, like those at Kanama in September 1995 and at Satinsyi in April 1996 where the slaughter of civilians also followed killings of RPA soldiers, was consistent with a reported government policy of severely punishing the people of any community where soldiers are attacked. A substantial number of the victims in infiltrators= raids and reprisals by government forces have been children, women or elderly people.
In the search and cordon operation in several communes in Ruhengeri prefecture in August 6 to 8, soldiers assembled some 10,000 men on a hilltop and held them there for two days without food or water. Some who failed to respond to the summons and sought to hide or escape were shot when caught. After interrogation, some 300 men were further detained, reportedly in Mukamira military camp. The military penal code was amended in January to permit civilians accused of aiding the enemy to be detained in military facilities and tried under military regulations.
Following an attack which killed three civilians and wounded a fourth in December 1995, RPA soldiers accused of the crime were tried by a military court before a community gathering. On December 28, 1995, the court found all four guilty and condemned a sergeant, the highest ranking of the four, to death. The sentence was being appealed at the time of this writing. According to military authorities, more than 1,300 RPA soldiers were detained and awaiting trial on a variety of charges, some of which were reportedly related to killings of civilians and other human rights abuses. Apparently none had been brought to trial on charges related to killings done during military operations. Following considerable international protest over the number of persons killed in the July and August operations, Col. Charles Ngoga, commander of the Gisenyi-Ruhengeri sector where the killings had taken place, was relieved of his command, but reportedly was re-assigned in the eastern sector.
Some seventy-five local officials had been killed through the month of October. Some were slain by infiltrators, particularly in areas on the western frontier, but others were apparently killed by RPA soldiers, including the burgomaster, the deputy prosecutor, and a school director in Rushashi commune and the burgomaster of Nyabikenke commune, all murdered in July. Although authorities had investigated some of these cases, no one was brought to trial for these murders. Two burgomasters who criticized military operation in their communes of Karago and Nyamutera were suspended from office in early September and put under house arrest. The burgomaster of Nyamutera was later imprisoned.
In January, the president and vice-president called on citizens to join soldiers on patrol to combat the incursions. In June, the president renewed this call, as did delegations of high government officials. There were several reports of beatings by civilian patrols, acting either alone or in the company of RPA soldiers. Civilian participation in local security operations was a practice before and during the genocide, one that was clearly abused at that time and that could lead to further abuses.
The judicial and police systems, nearly totally paralyzed since the genocide, received important numbers of new personnel during the year. In September, 280 judges and magistrates, trained in a brief, intensive course in legal procedure, were sworn in. At almost the same time, however, the minister of justice was obliged to resign and was charged with corruption. A number of other officials were removed on charges of corruption, mismanagement, or on belated accusations of involvement in the genocide, including the president of the court of first instance in Kigali, the assistant prosecutor in Kigali, the prosecutor of Butare and the prosecutor of Kibuye. The latter three were all subsequently arrested. Judicial officials, many of whom expressed concern for their personal safety, experienced frequent problems with administrative officials or military officers who interfered with the execution of their duties. In some areas, unauthorized persons, including soldiers and local officials, made arrests, sometimes without subsequently informing judicial authorities, often during military search and cordon operations. In March, 750 policemen were graduated from a British-run training program.
Tutsi recruits appeared to be far more numerous than Hutu among new judicial and police staff, as was the case with local officials installed last year as well. Many of these Tutsi were people who returned to Rwanda only after the RPA victory in July 1994. Foreign funders and trainers apparently hesitated to raise the ethnic identity of candidates with authorities, who had made commitments to eliminate the distinctions that formed the basis for the genocide. The large number of Tutsi in official positions as well as in secondary schools and the university caused considerable resentment among the Hutu population.
On September 1, the government officially promulgated a law establishing procedures for punishing genocide and crimes against humanity. It divides perpetrators into four categories: in the first are planners, organizers, instigators, and leaders of the genocide as well as those who killed with particular zeal or malice and those who committed acts of sexual torture; in the second are those who killed or committed assaults resulting in death; in the third are those who committed assaults that resulted in serious injury; and in the fourth are those who committed offences against property. The accused are to be assigned to categories by prosecutors, whose decision cannot be appealed. Those in category one, if convicted, face death by firing squad. Guilty in other categories will face prison terms and may receive reduced sentences in return for full confessions.
With the adoption of the new law, the appointment of judicial personnel, and the addition of considerable funds from outside donors, the government was well placed to begin trials of those accused of genocide. In October, some 83,000 persons were being held, most of them pending charges of genocide, in a variety of prisons, communal lockups and military places of detention. In virtually all of these locations, inmates were confined in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. In mid-May, ninety-four detainees were confined in a single twenty-meter square room in Kivumu commune. Seventeen of them died of suffocation during one night; six others died under similar conditions in another Kivumu lockup at about the same time. The next week, forty-six detainees died when grenades were thrown into a detention center in Bugarama commune. Local authorities said infiltrators had thrown grenades at the building, but inspection of the site revealed that the grenades had exploded from inside the building outward and showed as well that some of the detainees had been shot. Persons held in central prisons rarely reported mistreatment, while those in communal lock-ups often complained of being beaten. Several died each month as a result of mistreatment in the communal lockups.
The growing insecurity resulted in large part from the continued presence of large numbers of refugees, approximately 1.7 million, mostly in Zaire and Tanzania. Refugees in Tanzania caused considerable disruption to the local ecology, depleting local supplies of firewood and water, but those in Zaire caused more extensive problems by also attacking locally resident peoples. After making an initial effort to drive out Rwandan refugees in the early part of the year, Burundi finally drove out all but some two hundred in July and August. The majority of the 76,000 Hutu refugees forcibly returned from Burundi encountered relatively few problems in Rwanda and were able to return to their homes and land. Several hundred were arrested, however, and one was reported beaten to death by a crowd. In early October, Rwanda took its turn in driving refugees back across the border when it warned some 4,000 people who had fled violence in Burundi that they had one week to go home. Zaire, which had been trying for some time to send the refugees home, agreed with Rwanda in late July that the camps would be closed. But in October, both Zaire and Tanzania still sheltered a virtually undiminished refugee population and expressed again their determination to send the refugees home.
The violence against Zairians ethnically related to Tutsi and Tutsi of Rwandan origin, first in North Kivu and then in South Kivu, Zaire and the subsequent flight of thousands of them into Rwanda worsened relations between Rwanda and Zaire. Relations between the two countries were already poor because Zaire had tolerated, if not encouraged, the regrouping of the army of the former Rwandan government. In late September and October, the two armies exchanged heavy arms fire across the border of southwestern Rwanda. Zaire accused Rwanda of sending troops into South Kivu to fight civilian and military assailants of the Banyamulenge, Zaire=s long-resident Tutsi population.
The Right to Monitor
Although the government continued to profess its support for human rights and its openness to being monitored, it showed growing impatience at criticism. An April press release from the Ministry of Information stated that human rights organizations sometimes Aunwittingly serv[e] as propaganda channels for genocidal leaders@ because they collect Aslanted@ information from informants who were involved in the genocide and Ajump at any opportunity to project a negative public image of the government.@ A subsequent radio broadcast by a high government official accused some Rwandan human rights groups as Acovering up@ for people guilty of genocide. Local activists have frequently been threatened, usually by unidentified harassers.
In the early part of the year, UNHCR protection officers were denied access or access without official escort to several communes in Butare and Kigali prefectures. Officers conducting an inquiry in Mugesera commune were detained briefly at a military base. Human Rights Watch researchers investigating the Ramba massacre together with Rwandan colleagues were also briefly detained by a military patrol.
After accounts of the Ramba massacre were published by Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and by the U.N. Human Rights Field Office, Rwandan authorities, including the minister of information and an adviser to the vice-president, criticized their reports as Abiased.@
The Role of the International Community
The international community continued to contribute far more funds to provide for the basic needs of Rwandans in exile in neighboring countries than to those within the country. Since July 1994, donor nations had spent approximately US$2.5 billion on the refugee camps, while devoting about $572 million to programs in Rwanda itself. At a roundtable conference in Geneva in June, however, donors pledged some $617 million towards a three-year development program in Rwanda that would require $800 million for its complete implementation. Sustaining the refugee camps became a financial burden that donor nations were no longer willing to shoulder. For many months, the refugees had been supported at a cost of approximately a million dollars a day. In June, an appeal for $288 million to fund refugee support for 1996 had raised only $95 million. At Geneva, the United States suggested a new initiative to close the current camps by relocating some further from the frontier and encouraging the rest to return to Rwanda. It pushed harder for this plan in October, when Secretary of State Warren Christopher emphasized the need to close the camps at the Arusha meeting of a number of African heads of state. In September, the UNHCR announced that the twenty persons indicted by the International Tribunal could no longer be considered refugees and it was exploring ways to draw up a longer list of persons who could be excluded on the basis of participation in the genocide.
In March, UNAMIR, the peacekeeping force that had been in place before the genocide, reduced and paralyzed at the start of the killing, and then strengthened again at its end, completed
its assignment. Although infiltrations and government reactions to them increased after that time, the gradual increase in violence actually dated back to late 1995, before the end of the U.N. military presence.
In September, the Security Council ended an embargo on arms transfers to the current government which had been imposed on the previous government of Rwanda during the genocide, but failed to link the decision to demands for progress in halting serious violations, such as the killings of civilians by government soldiers. The council retained the embargo against forces of the former government based in Zaire.
While the genocide was still in progress, the U.N. Human Rights Commission named a special rapporteur for Rwanda and also created a field office of monitors to assist him. In January, the special rapporteur, René Degni-Ségui, published a report dealing with events through the end of 1995 and drawing particular attention to crimes against women and children during the genocide. In February, the Field Office experienced serious financial problems because donor nations had failed to pay their pledges and had to temporarily reduce the number of its investigators. Throughout the year, its staff documented the growing violence of RPA soldiers against civilians and sought discreetly to have authorities correct these abuses. In July and again in August, the Field Office marked its concern by making its data about military killings of civilians publicly available. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established by the U.N. Security Council subsequent to a finding by its Commission of Experts that genocide had been committed in Rwanda, at first received little more than rhetorical support from the international community. In March, the tribunal had available only twenty-eight investigators and a skeletal legal staff. But in the next few months, various donor nations were persuaded of the need for adequate funding and a budget of $36 million was provided for its operation. By October, the tribunal had indicted twenty-persons, including several of major importance in the genocide. Zambia, Kenya, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States had arrested indicted persons and agreed to hand them over to the tribunal. The Cameroon government, which had arrested several of the most important of the accused, including Col. Théoneste Bagasora, who took charge of military and militia activities from the start of the genocide, delayed delivering them over to the tribunal. Even after all judicial formalities had been completed, President Paul Biya still refused to sign the documents necessary for their transfer to custody of the tribunal.
Because of early financial and staffing difficulties, the tribunal had failed to deal adequately with such issues as witness protection and the prompt provision of necessary materials to defense lawyers. But by October it appeared that these problems had been resolved and the first trial was scheduled to begin at the end of October.
In April, E.U. special envoy to Rwanda, Achim Kratz, summed up E.U. policy by saying AWe have no other solution but to support this government. It may not have a democratic basis but it ended the genocide.@ The Africa-Caribbean-Pacific European Union Joint Assembly, the parliamentary body of the E.U. and its associated partners in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries, reaffirmed this position in late September when it passed a resolution calling for aid to Rwanda to boost reconstruction and the return of refugees, for prompt implementation of the new Rwandan law on the genocide, and for international assistance in preventing the reorganization and arming of those responsible for the genocide. There was no mention of human rights violations by the current government.
The U.S., like the E.U., had apparently decided to back the current government of Rwanda strongly. A speech given by Richard McCall of the U.S. Agency for International Development gave virtually unqualified support to the government and raised few concerns about its human rights record. While acknowledging that the government needed to address the problems of justice Amore effectively,@ he went on to say that the issue was very complex in ways that the international community might never be able to appreciate.
In July the United States sent nine U.S. soldiers to Rwanda to provide training to RPA soldiers in small-scale operations. Although Ambassador Robert Gribbin acknowledged serious concerns about the killing of civilians by the RPA, he indicated that he believed such concerns were best addressed privately with the appropriate authorities.
In August, Vice-President Paul Kagame, the minister of defense and leading military authority, visited the U.S. and met with such high level administration officials as National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and Defense Secretary Perry. According to the State Department, they discussed refugee repatriation, rebuilding the justice system, prison conditions and regional peace efforts.
The U.S. was a key supporter of the ICTR, both politically and financially. In addition to $1,683,000 in assessed U.N. contributions for 1994-1995, the U.S. has made voluntary contributions of cash, personnel and equipment at a cost estimated at $3,900,000. The U.S. insisted on the importance of prosecuting those accused of genocide. As of this writing, it had contributed $5,650,000 to the tribunal, $650,000 of which was earmarked for prosecution of mass rape and sexual crimes.
The U.S. cooperated in the arrest of one person, Elsephane Ntakirutimana, indicted by the ICTR. There was no provision in U.S. criminal law for prosecution of genocide, but Human Rights Watch brought a civil suit under the Alien Torts Act in the name of Rwandans residents in the U.S. who had suffered from the genocide. This suit, against Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, resulted in a $105 million judgment against Barayagwiza, handed down in U.S. District Court on April 9. In the decision, Judge John S. Martin wrote that Athe plaintiffs have overwhelmingly established that the defendant has engaged in conduct so inhuman that it is difficult to conceive of any civil remedy which can begin to compensate the plaintiffs for their loss or adequately express society=s outrage at the defendant=s actions.@