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UN rights committee urges Rwanda to investigate post-genocide killings

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) [official website] on Friday called on the government of Rwanda [JURIST news archive] to investigate reports of killings during and after the uprising by the Rwandan Patriotic Army to end the 1994 genocide [HRW backgrounder]. In its concluding observations [text, DOC] after reviewing Rwanda's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [text], the committee praised the nation's abolition of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] but called for an end to life sentences in solitary confinement. The UNHRC criticized Rwanda's prison conditions, while calling for greater availability of free legal defense and an end to arbitrary prosecutions of members of vulnerable groups. The committee claimed that even though Rwanda's constitution calls for gender equality, discriminatory statutes are still in place, and girls and boys do not have equal educational opportunities. The UNHRC also said Rwanda should ease restrictions on the media and allow human rights organizations to operate without interference. As it concluded its session in New York [materials; press release], the UNHRC also commented [text, DOC] on problems with Australia's 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act [text, PDF] and expressed concern [text, DOC] over violence against women in Sweden [JURIST news archive].

In March, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] pledged his ongoing support [JURIST report] for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [JURIST news archive] (ICTR) and stressed that the international community must continue to combat genocide. In July, a report [text, PDF] released by Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said the Rwandan government [official website] had made substantial progress [JURIST report] in reforming its justice system but fallen short in several key areas. In July 2007, HRW urged [JURIST report] Rwanda to conduct an "independent and impartial" investigation [press release] into an increasing number of alleged extrajudicial killings, saying in a report [HRW materials] that Rwanda National Police officers had killed at least 20 prisoners in seven months.

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