The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Rwanda

https://www.humantruth.info/rwanda_human_rights_and_freedom.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #rwanda #rwanda_human_rights #tolerance #UK

Rwanda
Republic of Rwanda

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index138th best
LocationAfrica
Population12.3m1
Life Expectancy66.07yrs (2017)2

Rwanda is very poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world, and it has cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Rwanda does worse than average for opposing gender inequality3 (still good for Africa), supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms4 (still good for Africa), commentary in Human Rights Watch reports5, LGBT equality6 (still high for Africa) and in freethought7. And finally, it falls into the worst-performing 20 in the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)8 and in supporting press freedom9. After many years of state "intimidation and interference", human rights and civil organisations in Rwanda are unable to operate and unable to document human rights abuses10. Likewise, political opponents to President Paul Kagame are intimidated and presented with enough barriers to make them unable to operate or campaign10. The police have been arresting and executing people even for minor crimes, and holding many people in unofficial detention centres where some prisoners are tortured, leading to human-rights aware countries such as the UK to deny extradition of wanted people to Rwanda.10.


1. Rwanda's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Africa (2020)11
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank11
1S. Africa56.1
2Seychelles66.7
3Namibia69.4
...
22Ivory Coast100.4
23Madagascar100.4
24=Morocco102.7
25Rwanda104.1
26Nigeria106.9
27Togo107.6
28Zambia108.6
29=Algeria111.0
30Egypt113.4
Africa Avg108.2
q=54.
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)11
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank11
1Sweden9.0
2Norway14.5
3Denmark14.5
...
124Cambodia102.3
125=Morocco102.7
125=Guyana102.7
127Rwanda104.1
128=Bahamas105.0
128=Antigua & Barbuda105.0
130Dominica105.2
131Kuwait106.5
World Avg87.9
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark12. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu12.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe12, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia12.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Rwanda stated:

Rwanda signed an agreement with the UK for the relocation of asylum seekers. Paul Rusesabagina continued to be denied a fair trial. Draft legislation to give access to contraceptives for people over 15 was rejected. Women’s dress and right to privacy were policed. Teachers’ salaries were increased but students’ living allowances were not. Bloggers and journalists continued to be harassed, intimidated, persecuted and unlawfully detained by the authorities. No information was provided on Innocent Bahati’s fate and whereabouts. Two people were killed in an armed attack on a bus. Trials against alleged perpetrators of the 1994 genocide continued.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)13

[In 2017] President Paul Kagame overwhelmingly won a third term in August with a reported 98.8 percent of the vote, after a 2015 referendum allowed him to run for a seven-year term and two additional five-year terms thereafter. Before and after the August election, the Rwandan government continued to limit the ability of civil society groups, the media, international human rights organizations, and political opponents to function freely and independently or to criticize the government´s policies and practices. [...] Government authorities took no chances and arrested, forcibly disappeared, or threatened political opponents in the weeks following the August vote. [...]

State security forces in the Western Province summarily killed at least 37 suspected petty offenders between April 2016 and March 2017, in what appeared to be part of a broader strategy to spread fear, enforce order, and deter any resistance to government orders or policies. Rwandan authorities continued to arrest and detain people in unofficial military detention centers, where scores of detainees have been tortured in recent years.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)10

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better5
Pos.2017
Score5
1=UK9
1=France9
1=Germany9
...
89Mali-5
90=Israel-5
91UAE-6
92=Rwanda-6
92=Uzbekistan-6
92=Iraq-6
92=Bangladesh-6
92=Bosnia & Herzegovina-6
Africa Avg-5.6
World Avg-1.9
q=123.
Rwanda is 91st in the world in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better14
Pos.2009
Treaties14
1Argentina24
2=Chile23
2=Costa Rica23
...
54UK19
55=Venezuela19
55=Lesotho19
55=Rwanda19
55=Finland19
55=Netherlands19
55=Nicaragua19
55=Canada19
Africa Avg14.8
World Avg15.1
q=194.
Rwanda ranks 51st in the world regarding its nominal commitment to Human Rights.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better15
Pos.2019
Avg Yrs/Treaty15
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
40Portugal6.69
41Bolivia6.70
42El Salvador6.80
43Rwanda6.83
44Sri Lanka6.91
45Syria7.02
46Uganda7.03
47Mauritius7.09
Africa Avg9.88
World Avg10.02
q=195.
Rwanda comes 43rd in the world in terms of speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better4
Pos.2014
Rank4
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
83Tajikistan83
84Nepal84
85=Barbados85
85=Rwanda85
87India87
88=Burkina Faso88
88=Kenya88
88=Bahrain88
Africa Avg114.2
World Avg79.7
q=159.
Rwanda comes 85th in the world regarding supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)16

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better9
Pos.20139
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
157Egypt4866
158Pakistan5131
159Kazakhstan5508
160Rwanda5546
161Sri Lanka5659
162Saudi Arabia5688
163Uzbekistan6039
164Bahrain6275
Africa Avg3511
World Avg3249
q=178.
Rwanda ranks 19th-worst in the world regarding supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index17

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

In the build-up to the 2017 election in which President Paul Kagame won 98.8% of the vote, free speech, political debate and freedom of expression were all severely limited and political opponents were unable to function10.

While some private radio stations occasionally broadcast programs on politically sensitive issues, such as proposed changes to the penal code that would criminalize defamation, official government views dominated the domestic media and almost all election coverage. Government actors also intimidated international journalists.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)10

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery
Lower is better
18
Pos.2018
% Victims18
1Japan0.03
2=Canada0.05
2=Taiwan0.05
...
149Brunei1.09
150Myanmar (Burma)1.10
151Turkmenistan1.12
152Rwanda1.16
153=Chad1.20
153=Sudan1.20
155Mongolia1.23
156Congo, DR1.37
Africa Avg0.96
World Avg0.65
q=167.
Regarding eliminating modern slavery, Rwanda is positioned 16th-worst in the world.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory19. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends20. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life21. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves22.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery23. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity24. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.25. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi26, Eritrea26, Indonesia27) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery28.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

Rwanda has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
3
Pos.20153
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
81Belize0.38
82Mauritius0.38
83Lebanon0.38
84Rwanda0.38
85El Salvador0.38
86Peru0.39
87Sri Lanka0.39
88Ecuador0.39
Africa Avg0.54
World Avg0.36
q=159.
In terms of opposing gender inequality, Rwanda ranks 84th in the world.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
8
Pos.2022
%8
1Sweden31.829
2New Zealand34.430
3Australia37.030
...
73Haiti98.929
74Ghana99.029
75India99.129
76Rwanda99.129
77Myanmar (Burma)99.430
78Bangladesh99.430
79Mali99.531
80Philippines99.530
Africa Avg98.10
World Avg83.93
q=88.
When it comes to the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), Rwanda is positioned 13rd-worst in the world.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
Pos.0
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
126=Cyprus1960
126=Gambia1960
128El Salvador1961
129=Rwanda1961
129=Mauritania1961
129=Burundi1961
129=Malawi1961
129=Paraguay1961
Africa Avg1961
World Avg1930
q=189.
Rwanda ranks 128th in the world in terms of the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
6
Pos.2017
Score6
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
111=Bahamas10
112Kazakhstan8
113=N. Korea8
114Rwanda7
115=Congo, (Brazzaville)5
115=Madagascar5
115=Chad5
118Indonesia1
Africa Avg-10.4
World Avg12.6
q=196.
(still high for Africa)Rwanda comes 114th in the world regarding LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence32. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws33. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries32. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.2. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
7
Pos.20217
1=Belgium1.0
1=Netherlands1.0
1=Taiwan1.0
...
158Samoa3.8
159=Swaziland3.8
159=Chad3.8
161Rwanda4.0
162=Congo, DR4.0
162=Tunisia4.0
162=Cuba4.0
162=Azerbaijan4.0
Africa Avg3.1
World Avg3.0
q=196.
Rwanda comes 161st in the world in terms of freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights34. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish35. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era36 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted37. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief38. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands7,39 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia7,40.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed41. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief35, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion42 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"43 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see: