Human rights and the rule of law in Rwanda : reconstruction of a failed state

Sahinkuye, Mathias (2000-12)

Thesis (LLD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Human rights denials have more characterised Rwandan history than their promotion and protection. When the Rwandan State emerged from Tutsi domination and colonialism, many Rwandans hoped that the era of liberty had at least dawned. But the reality has been a total disappointment and replicas of earlier abuses have emerged, despite the ratification by Rwanda of most international human rights instruments. This dissertation is premised on the assumption that Rwanda has failed as a democratic constitutional State, and the whole socio-economic-political system has gone wrong. Chapter one argues that disequilibrium was built into the Rwandan system before colonisation and evangelisation. There was a 'consensus' that Tutsis were a superior minority race, able to govern and dominate, well organised and accepted by their Hutu subjects. The colonists and the Catholic Church exploited this injustice for their indirect rule. In a world evolving towards the international human rights system, this had a very precarious foundation in Rwanda. Indeed, poor management of changes due to evangelisation, education and market economy led to the denial of human dignity. It exacerbated division in favour of Hutus rather than reinforcing national unity. Chapter two considers the Hutu regime as a failure of a democratic constitutional State in the postcolonial era, despite the promise to serve the interests of all Rwandans through democracy and respect for human rights. In a one-party State, a handful of Hutus have monopolised power and resources. The institutional infrastructure for the management of the State and protection of human rights was set up to safeguard the interests of the ruling group only and oppress the rest of the population. The Hutu government, particularly, took revenge on Tutsis that they killed, forced into exile and denied access to public affairs. Hutu opponents, real or imaginary, and people from other regions than that of the President were also denied such access. Separation of powers was purposely just a theory, whence a non-independent judiciary, interference of the executive in the functioning of other branches of government and abuse of legislative power became the reality. In order to perpetuate the ruling group's hegemony, civil society was hindered, while states of emergency were used to deny the right to life, liberty and the security of the person. Many other rights were also denied regardless of whether the denial was a legacy of the past or just a result of the undemocratic nature of the State and the underdevelopment of the country. The Hutu regime's failure to promote national unity resulted in a genocide which took the lives of many Tutsis and Hutus. Whereas the current Tutsi government presented itself as committed to democracy and human rights, Chapter three argues that it was a mutatis mutandis replica of the Hutu rule. Indeed, the State system and resources have been captured by a group of Tutsis while other Tutsis have been left without hope and Hutus have become second-class citizens, whence justice and national unity are in jeopardy. By avoiding to tackle the fundamental issue of nation-statehood, the United Nations have failed to maintain peace and security. The failure to condemn Ugandan aggression against Rwanda, the forced repatriation of refugees, and the non-prosecution of Tutsis involved in crimes against humanity have proved the demise of international law and the maintenance of the culture of impunity in Rwanda. The author nonetheless argues that respect for human rights and establishment of the rule of law are still possible through a process of reconciliation and reconstruction.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die geskiedenis van Rwanda word meer deur die miskenning van menseregte as erkenning en beskerming daarvan gekenmerk. Toe die Rwandese Staat onder Tutsi oorheersing en kolonialisme uit verrys, het baie Rwandese gehoop dat die tydperk van vryheid ten minste aangebreek het, maar die werklikheid was algeheel teleurstellend en weergawes van vroeëre misbruike het weer tevore getree, ten spyte daarvan dat Rwanda die meeste internasionale werktuie vir menseregte bekragtig het. Hierdie verhandeling berus op die aanname dat Rwanda as 'n demokratiese grondwetlike staat misluk het en dat die sosio-ekonomies-politieke stelsel geheel-en-al verkeerd geloop het. Hoofstuk een argumenteer dat 'n wanbalans voor die kolonisasie en evangelisasie van die land reeds in die Rwandese stelsel ingebou is. Daar was 'konsensus' waarvolgens Tutsis beskou is as 'n superieure minderheidsras wat in staat was om te regeer en te oorheers, wat goed georganiseer was en deur hul Hutu onderdane aanvaar is. Die koloniste en die Katolieke Kerk het hierdie onreg ten voordeel van hul indirekte heerskappy uitgebuit. In 'n wêreld wat op pad was na 'n internasionale menseregtestelsel was die grondslag wat hiervoor in Rwanda gelê is uiters onseker. Swak bestuur van veranderinge wat deur evangelisasie, opvoeding en 'n mark-ekonomie teweeggebring is, het in werklikheid tot miskenning van menseregte gelei. Dit het skeiding tot voordeel van die Hutus vererger, eerder as om nasionale eenheid te versterk. Hoofstuk twee kyk na die Hutu regime as 'n mislukte demokratiese konstitusionele staat in die postkoloniale era, ten spyte van die belofte om die belange van alle Rwandese deur demokrasie en eerbied vir menseregte te dien. In die eenpartystaat het 'n handjievol Hutus die mag en hulpbronne gemonopoliseer. Die institusionele infrastruktuur vir die bestuur van die Staat is opgestel om die belange van die heersersgroep te beveilig en die res van die bevolking te onderdruk. Die Hutu regering het hul veralop Tutsis gewreek deur hulle te vermoor, tot ballingskap te dryf en hul toegang tot openbare sake te weier. Hutu teenstanders, werklik of vermeend, en mense vanaf ander streke as die waarvan die President afkomstig was, is ook van sodanige toegang weerhou. Die verspreiding van mag was doelbewus niks meer as teoreties nie, vandaar die nie-onafhanklikheid van die regbank, inmenging by die funksionering van ander vertakkings van die regering deur die uitvoerende gesag en die misbruik van die wetgewende gesag. In die poging om die regerende groep se hegemonie te bestendig, is die burgerlike samelewing belemmer en is daar van noodtoestande gebruik gemaak om die reg tot lewe, vryheid en die veiligheid van die persoon aan te tas. Baie ander regte is ook geweier, ongeag of die weiering daarvan as gevolg van die nalatenskap van die verlede of die ondemokratiese aard van die Staat en die onderontwikkeldheid van die land moontlik was. Die feit dat die Hutu regering ten opsigte van die bevordering van nasionale eenheid misluk het, het gelei na In menseslagting wat die lewens van vele Tutsis en Hutus geëis het. Terwyl die huidige Tutsi regering homself as verbonde tot demokrasie en menseregte voordoen, argumenteer Hoofstuk drie dat die regering bloot 'n mutatis mutandi weergawe van die Hutu regering is. In werklikheid is die staatsisteem en die hulpbronne deur 'n groep Tutsis gebuit, die res van die Tutsis is sonder hoop gelaat en die Hutus is tot tweederangse burgers gemaak, wat vrede en sekuriteit in gevaar stel. Met die ontwyking van die grondliggende kwessie van nasieskap, het die Verenigde Volke ten opsigte van die handhawing van vrede en sekuriteit gefaal. Die onvermoë om Uganda se aggressie teenoor Rwanda te verdoem, die gedwonge repatriasie van vlugtelinge en die gebrek aan vervolging van Tutsis wat skuldig is aan misdade teen die mensheid het die afstanddoening van internasionale wetgewing en die ondersteuning van die kultuur van straffeloosheid in Rwanda bewys. Desnieteenstaande argumenteer die skrywer dat respek vir menseregte en die instelling van regsoewereiniteit nog steeds deur middel van 'n proses van versoening en heropbouing in Rwanda moontlik gemaak kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51792
This item appears in the following collections: