La demande faite par le régime de Kigali de se porter candidat pour adhérer au Commonwealth a été rejetée en raison des violations massives et continuelles des droits de l’Homme par le régime de Kagame, tant au Rwanda que dans la région de l’Afrique centrale et des grands lacs, notamment en République Démocratique du Congo.
By Derek Ingram The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) sent the eminent international lawyer Yash Ghai on a mission to Rwanda to discover whether it fulfils the Commonwealth requirements. His thorough report finds Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values. It says its government “has not hesitated to use violence at home and abroad when it has suited it.”The Commonwealth Conversation October 25, 2009 At the last Commonwealth summit in Kampala in 2007 heads of government endorsed a report that updated the rules for countries wanting to join the Commonwealth. So far the only country admitted that has no historic connection whatever with the UK or any other Commonwealth member is Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony, joined in 1995, and has been a successful model. Cameroon, also admitted in 1995, had before independence been part British and part Nigerian. Namibia, once German and then a trust territory under South Africa, became a member in 1990, even before South Africa’s return. The membership report, produced under the chairmanship of former Jamaica prime minister P.G. Patterson, laid out more explicitly, and even tightened, the qualifications for applicants without historical connections, but in accepting it the Heads added some leeway. They said that “in exceptional circumstances” applications could be “considered on a case-by-case basis.” However, applicants had to comply with the values, principles and priorities set out in Commonwealth declarations made over the years. They must show a commitment, inter alia, to democratic processes, free and fair elections and representative legislatures, the rule of law, protection of human rights, and freedom of expression. For many years now several countries have been knocking on the Commonwealth door. Even Algeria has shown interest. The most pressing case is Rwanda, which before independence was under German and then Belgian rule. It is adjacent to Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, is now teaching English in its schools and has even started playing cricket. But it hardly adheres to Commonwealth standards as required. It is not democratic and its people do not enjoy freedom of expression. Rwanda has a champion in neighbouring Uganda. Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda are longtime comrades in arms. Museveni, as host of the last CHOGM, is until the November one in Trinidad, chairperson of the Commonwealth. The most fervent supporter of Rwanda’s membership is the UK for reasons that are still not entirely clear. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) sent the eminent international lawyer Yash Ghai on a mission to Rwanda to discover whether it fulfils the Commonwealth requirements. His thorough report finds Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values. It says its government “has not hesitated to use violence at home and abroad when it has suited it.” The reaction of many people is to point out that some member countries of long-standing still do not measure up to these values. This is no answer. There is no point in the Commonwealth adding to its problems. In fact, Cameroon was admitted too early and for years now the Secretary-General’s envoys have been trying to get a more democratic situation there. (Paul Biya has been president for 27 years and wants to stand next year yet again). No member will every have totally clean hands, but there is only a handful such as The Gambia, Sri Lanka, Swaziland that present real problems. Recently years of Commonwealth diplomacy brought to the Maldives good elections and the end of a president who had ruled for 27 years. In this work the Commonwealth does a great job. On Rwanda it should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011. Related Materials: The state of governance and human rights in Rwanda does not satisfy Commonwealth standards Report on Rwanda’s Application for Membership of the Commonwealth Rwanda Still Failing in Human Rights Even in 2009 What they don’t tell you about Rwanda What Really Happened in Rwanda? Comment on the Law Relating to the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology of Rwanda