1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: During 2019, the overall human rights situation in Rwanda remained unchanged. While the Rwandan government continues to show its strong developmental ambition and performance in the areas of economic and social rights. It also continues to face allegations of the most serious human rights violations – excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings, and enforced disappearances. Over the past 18 months, several members or followers of unregistered opposition movements, primarily FDU-Inkingi, either have disappeared or were killed. Representatives of this party and some human rights activists suspect official involvement in such cases, but authorities deny that and say that these cases are investigated as any other cases. Human rights advocates continue to report on arbitrary detentions and use of torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment in detention facilities and in centres where destitute individuals, including minors, are allegedly held without due process. Freedom of expression remains limited, but room for debate is expanding through online media. On rights of LGBTI persons, Rwanda remains the only country in East Africa that does not criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts, but lacks provisions in its legal code to protect LGBTI persons from discrimination, nor does it recognise unions and partnerships between same-sex.
2. EU action – key focus areas: The EU and the Member States have continued to focus on two main priority areas: (i) the area of the most serious violations of human rights – i.e. enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and use of torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment in detention facilities, and (ii) the area with the most significant restrictions of human rights – i.e. the politically related rights, freedoms of expression, association and assembly. EU missions have also attended court hearings of political opponents. The EU delegation and EU Member States in Rwanda carried out a number of public diplomacy activities with the aim of promoting specific issues related to human rights. For instance, the EU, the Netherlands and Sweden promoted the rights of LGBTI persons through various initiatives. The rights of children were promoted throughout the year, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: The EU continued to engage on human rights and democracy with Rwanda within the framework of regular political dialogue as well as on other occasions. General concerns regarding the length of pre-trial detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings were raised with government and relevant authorities, as were individual cases. The EU and Member States missions have also undertaken several human rights-related demarches during the year, particularly with respect to the Human Rights Council agenda.
4. EU financial engagement: At the operational level, the EU delegation and EU Member States supported projects or initiatives that contribute to the achievement of EU human rights priorities for Rwanda. The year 2019 saw a call for proposals related to the main priorities. The four projects to be financed under this call relate to freedom of expression and the rights of journalists; the reintegration of prisoners as well as the rights of mentally and persons with intellectual disabilities. These projects will begin implementation in 2020. In 2019, five Rwanda journalists carried out a fellowship with the Danish Union of Journalists through the EU's Media4Democracy facility.
5. Multilateral context: Rwanda was a member of the UN Human Rights Council until the end of 2019. The country largely voted along the lines of the EU and remained a reliable partner in the African group. Rwanda has shown strong engagement by the responsible authorities, in particular the Ministry of Justice, with respect to the UPR process by organising meetings and retreats with the civil society platform and diplomats. The third UPR review is scheduled for 2020.