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"Why are there still children in prison, why are they still rounding up kids on the street, why no juvenile court, why no proper legal framework for orphan care?," a representative of a donor agency asked Human Rights Watch rhetorically in early 2002.245 Rwanda's international donors have provided nearly U.S. $4 billion in foreign assistance since 1994.246 Although many diplomats and foreign aid workers are aware that widespread violations of children's rights are still committed, the international community has largely muted its criticism. When donors have pressured the government to act on some of the violations discussed in this report, they have mostly done so only intermittently and failed to follow through.

UNICEF, the most important multilateral donor for children's issues, estimates that it has assisted more than 30,000 orphans and vulnerable children in recent years and is attempting to reach the many others in need of protection.247 UNICEF has had a yearly budget of approximately U.S. $10 million in Rwanda for the past three years, part of which is allocated from the agency's general budget and part funded separately by member states.248 UNICEF projects spending of approximately U.S. $25 million in Rwanda for the five-year period 2002-2006, including some U.S. $5 million for governance and justice, $5 million for AIDS and reproductive health programming, and $15 million for poverty reduction, with human rights being a cross-cutting theme for all funding categories.249

UNICEF has the greatest expertise and, as the primary financial contributor in this domain, works most closely with the government on children's rights. However, other bilateral and multilateral donors that contribute to larger government initiatives such as decentralization or reform of the justice system more generally, which benefit children indirectly, also have the power to influence the Rwandan government. The World Bank financed a U.S. $5.2 million Community Reintegration and Development Project to support "Social Protection." The World Bank does not currently finance the education sector in Rwanda, although it did prior to the genocide.250 The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and United Nations Development Programme also provide financial and technical backing for the government. The European Union (E.U.) funds a local NGO to provide assistance to street children in Kigali.

The British Department for International Development (DFID) is Rwanda's largest bilateral donor, giving more than U.S. $40 million in general budget support per year since 2000-more than double the amount allocated the previous year and significantly more than the next largest bilateral donor. DFID has suggested that 35 percent be allocated for education but grants the government of Rwanda discretion on how to spend the money.251 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the next largest bilateral donor, gives Rwanda approximately U.S. $25 million per year, the largest portion of which goes to HIV/AIDS programming.252 In May 2002, USAID announced an increase of U.S. $2.8 million over two years, $2 million of which is earmarked for educational assistance for 6,000 genocide survivors.253 Other major donors include Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

To be sure, even large amounts of foreign aid could not eradicate poverty in Rwanda overnight. And, with seemingly infinite needs, every decision to fund one program amounts in practice to a decision not to fund another. Some aid workers assert that they had to work to ensure that children's basic needs were met before they could worry about issues like access to education or inheritance rights. Likewise, international experts who have worked with the Rwandan justice system for years have stressed that they had to address major weaknesses of the justice system as a whole before they could focus on juvenile justice.

But these arguments were more persuasive in the years immediately following the genocide. Rwanda's international donors, bilateral and multilateral, called for the government to give priority to children accused of genocide as early as 1995, as discussed above, and allocated resources for this purpose. In 1996, Gerald Gahima, then chief of staff in the Ministry of Justice, told Human Rights Watch that money was not an issue for dealing with minors accused of genocide. "As far as children are concerned there is plenty of money. People are happy to give money for children," he said.254 Yet the government accomplished little in this domain before late 2000, and still has yet to bring approximately 4,000 minors accused of genocide to justice.

In 1996, a representative of UNICEF told a Human Rights Watch researcher that the agency's goal was to work with the government without denouncing rights violations.255 Donors have largely maintained this attitude towards Rwanda. But this collaborative approach, often useful, has to be combined with open criticism when it fails to achieve progress if the abuses in question are serious and ongoing.

As described above, the international community has continued to praise the government for making progress in juvenile justice despite its failure to follow through on its commitments. For example, foreign diplomats and the Special Representative of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights to Rwanda praised the government for finally releasing some four hundred children who were too young during the genocide to be held criminally responsible and failed to urge the government to free hundreds more such detainees who remained in prison. Similarly, donors delivered praise for the creation of mobile groups to work on minors' case files in August 2000, but failed to react when the government suspended them a month later, reportedly due to a lack of funds, without having transferred a single file to court. And when progress was finally made on these two issues, the international community had devoted almost all of its attention and resources to gacaca, meaning that trials of minors accused of genocide are no longer being treated as a priority.

In relation to forcible roundups of street children, well-informed sources close to UNICEF said the agency did not denounce the government's policy and action vigorously because the Ministry of Local Government had made clear that it did not want to hear such criticism and that it would create problems for anyone who dared to go against their wishes.0 Other bilateral and multilateral donors also remained silent, though their representatives in Kigali could not help but notice that the street children who usually begged money them had disappeared from view. Reacting to reports that children had been forcibly rounded up and detained illegally at the Muhima police station in June 2001, a representative of the E.U. asked the government to provide information about the children's situation. Government officials assured her that the children were well taken care of, and took her to visit some who had just been transferred from the police station to a rehabilitation center and given new clothes. Convinced that the government was in fact protecting the children, the E.U. chose not to criticize police or Kigali municipal authorities for forcible roundups, beatings, and illegal detention of children that had and continued to take place.1 UNICEF and international NGOs now lament that they have had trouble securing funding for programs to protect street children, programs aimed in part at preventing future roundups.2

245 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, March 18, 2002.

246 Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Department of Statistics, Rwanda: Development Indicators 2001, no. 4, July 2001.

247 "Rwanda: Interview with UNICEF Representative Theophane Nikyema," U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), June 10, 2002.

248 UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), November 29, 2001.

249 United Nations, Rwanda: United Nations Development Assistance Framework, Kigali, October 2001 (abridged version), p. 24.

250 See information at (accessed March 27, 2002).

251 DFID, Departmental Report 2001: The Government's Expenditure Plans 2001/2002 to 2003/2004 and Main Estimates 2001/2002, p. 159; DFID, Rwanda: Country Strategy Paper for 1999; Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, March 18, 2002.

252 United States Agency for International Development, "Rwanda Mission Program Data Sheet," 2002.

253 "USAID grants US $2 million for genocide orphans, flood victims," U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), May 29, 2002.

254 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, February 27, 1996.

255 Human Rights Watch interview with Ray Torres, project officer, UNICEF, Kigali, March 21, 1996.

0 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, November 7, 2000, June 28, 2001, and August 15, 2001.

1 Human Rights Watch interviews, by telephone, Kigali, June 26 and 28, 2001.

2 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, March 18, 2002.

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