The Rwanda government on Monday called on the U.N. Sub-committee on Torture Prevention to make public the alleged impediments that the committee claims compromised its mission to Rwanda last week.
In a statement from the U.N. body published last week on Friday the subcommittee on torture stated that Rwandan authorities barred a U.N. delegation from accessing some detention sites and made it impossible for them to conduct “private and confidential interviews.”
As a result, the body suspended a visit to Rwanda, citing obstructions. It said it was only the third time in 10 years to suspend a mission and urged Rwanda to cooperate.
But Rwanda’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye said in a statement on Monday that his government considers the termination of the visit an act of bad faith.
“For five days, the committee conducted field visits to several institutions including prisons, police stations, transit centers, and a psychiatric hospital, interviewing staff, inmates, and patients,” the Minister said.
By abruptly terminating the mission and turning to the media before discussion with the host government, the committee violated its own guidelines as well as the pre-agreed schedule of the visit.
He said any technical issues that arose during field visits were immediately resolved.
“Allegations of reprisals for anyone interviewed are baseless and inflammatory. While we will continue to uphold the Convention against Torture, we will consider our options in respect of the Optional Protocol,” Busingye added.
He said Rwanda voluntarily ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, part of the minority of states-parties to have done so, adding that the Subcommittee on Torture Prevention (SPT) existed to reinforce national institutions, not replace them.
During its mission to Rwanda, the SPT visited institutions across the country specifically chosen by the committee itself.
These included Rilima and Muhanga Prisons; Nyamata, Kimihurura, and Nyamirambo Police Stations; Gikondo Transit Centre; Kami Rwanda Defence Forces 1st Division Headquarters; and Ndera Psychiatric Hospital.
The subcommittee also interviewed a cross-section of people chosen by the committee, including prisoners, detainees, psychiatric patients, soldiers, rehabilitation centre inmates, and staff at all places visited.