Rwandan NPM set to start work

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Following the designation of the National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda as the country’s national preventive mechanism (NPM) in June, a six-person NPM team within the Commission will soon start work to conduct independent monitoring of places of detention.

The composition of the NPM – which includes a director and five officers – was officially adopted on 14 August 2020 when the government published the staffing details in its gazette.

“This is an exciting time for everyone connected with the NPM,” said Ben Buckland, APT Senior Adviser, Oversight and Learning Development.

“In addition to prisons and police stations, the team will be responsible for inspecting juvenile detention centres, psychiatric institutions and other places across the country where people are deprived of their liberty,” he said.

“It is vitally important to ensure that people in detention are safe and treated with dignity, but even more so during the current pandemic.”

The NPM was established by law in August 2018.

Mr Buckland said the APT had provided significant support to national stakeholders during the process to decide on an NPM model and when the legislation was being prepared.

The APT also assisted the Commission to revise its internal structure to accommodate the independent monitoring unit within the organisation, as well as prepare a draft operational and strategic plan for the NPM.

“The work of an NPM is complex and it’s important there is organisation-wide support and understanding of its role and mandate,” Mr Buckland said.

“We also provided training on conducting inspections, interviewing detainees and preparing reports and recommendations for detaining authorities so the NPM would be ready to go from day one.”

In 2019, the APT convened a meeting of all 12 functioning African NPMs in Rwanda.

“Just five years ago, there were only a few NPMs across all of Africa, Mr Buckland said. “It is incredibly encouraging to see more NPMs emerging, as well as sharing their experiences and insights with each other.”

“In the past, the good practices we would talk about so often came from NPMs in Europe or Latin America. It is exciting that African NPMs are now sharing these good practices among themselves, as well as informing the work of NPMs outside the region.”