Rwanda: a roadmap for OPCAT implementation

Friday, September 16, 2016

As party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) since June 2015, Rwanda must now designate a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). A number of initiatives have already been undertaken to guide and support this decision-making process.

The latest in a series of consultations took place on 5 and 6 September 2016, when the APT and the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) and the Human Rights Implementation Centre of University of Bristol, gathered stakeholders to take stock of where the NPM designation process is and to identify the next steps.

Revision of legal basis

The meeting brought together some 40 participants, including representatives from the government, State institutions, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and correctional services, and civil society organisations.

It was agreed that the NPM will be a unit within the national human rights commission. This will require revision of the current legal basis of the commission, reforming its structure, governance, functioning and methods of work. The Ministry of Justice will put in place a working group to work on a draft legislation to revise the current NCHR law. The working group will be made up of representatives from the following institutions: MINIJUST (lead institution), the NCHR, the Rwanda Law Reform Commission, the Parliament, the National Public Prosecution Authority and Legal Aid Forum. The APT will serve as technical adviser to the group.

"Operational NPM by July 2017"

The meeting also adopted a roadmap for the designation process, which foresees the adoption of the law by March 2017 and the NPM to be established and operational by July 2017. It also includes awareness raising activities and the development and dissemination of promotional tools.

These consultations build on several previous activities. In May 2015, the APT organised a meeting with the National Commission of Human Rights to discuss the ratification and implementation of OPCAT. Other workshops were organised in November 2015 and March 2016 to take the discussions forward, and more recently, the APT facilitated a study visit to Mauritius for representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the NCHR, to learn from the experience of Mauritius' NPM.