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26.11.2009 Rwanda

Commonwealth Greens Parties Against Rwanda 's Entry to Commonwealth

By The Statesman
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Commonwealth Heads of Government Leaders meeting in Trinidad this week are being urged to closely examine Rwanda's human rights record before considering its Commonwealth membership.

A coalition of Green Parties from 6 Commonwealth nations is calling for an independent review of the Rwandan Government's commitment to human rights. The coalition believes that this needs to happen before CHOGM formalises any decision to admit Rwanda to the Commonwealth.  

The Green Parties from Australia, New Zealand , Pakistan , England & Wales, Mauritius and Canada are concerned that the ruling RPF party works against alternative parties from developing in Rwanda. One recent example is the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda who has made five attempts to formally register as a party and have been frustrated by Government officials each time.

A number of Human Rights organisations and observers have implicated the ruling party in electoral irregularities, restrictions on press freedom and intimidation of opposition parties . The most recent was an expert report published by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative which concluded it was too early to approve Rwanda's membership to the Commonwealth.

Admitting an application to join the Commonwealth without due concern for the countries Human Rights record devalues the standards agreed to by the Commonwealth's 1991 Harare Declaration . These principals state very clearly that a commitment to human rights is a condition of Commonwealth membership.

Commonwealth Greens Parties believes it would be prudent for the Commonwealth to:

·          undertake an independent review of the human rights situation

·          require the RPF to report on its efforts to encourage an environment where opposition parties and democracy can flourish in Rwanda .

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