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Universal Periodic Review 10th Session
Intervention by Australia
Australia welcomes the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General from Rwanda and appreciates Rwanda’s constructive engagement in the UPR process.
We congratulate the Government for its impressive progress in economic, social and cultural rights and its commitment to development. We particularly commend the Government for its progress in literacy, reducing gender gaps in enrolments, and reducing maternal and child mortality.
We commend Rwanda for its efforts in increasing the participation of women in parliament, which at over 50 per cent is an example we should all strive to emulate.
We also congratulate Rwanda for its work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, which has resulted in a steady reduction in infection rates.
We applaud Rwanda’s efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as highlighted by Rwanda’s Explanation of Vote on the UNGA Resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
We commend the Government for abolishing the death penalty in 2007.
We acknowledge Rwanda’s impressive post-genocide recovery, and the unique and sensitive challenges it continues to face. We nonetheless note there is some potential for ‘genocide ideology’ laws to be manipulated to prevent open and frank discussion by human rights defenders, journalists and opposition political parties.
We also acknowledge significant efforts made by Rwanda to rebuild its judicial system. The role of the Gacaca in helping to manage an extraordinarily large number of genocide cases has been particularly impressive. We are concerned, however, by reports of some cases of Gacaca manipulation, false testimonies and the fear of retribution.
We take this opportunity to again welcome Rwanda into the Commonwealth family, and congratulate Rwanda on its commitment to upholding the Commonwealth’s shared values, including human rights and democracy.
Australia has three recommendation:
Ensure the law on ‘genocide ideology’ is not manipulated or interpreted in a manner that restricts the responsible exercise of the freedom of opinion, expression or association;
Address alleged miscarriages of justice in Gacaca trials, through the formal court system; and
Continue to reform the justice system to enhance the independence of the judiciary and improve witness protection.