Great Lakes: IRIN Update 213, 7/17/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 213, 7/17/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 213 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 17 July 1997)

* A report released yesterday by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) claims the Rwandan army's counter-insurgency campaigns in the west of the country have killed 2,000 to 3,000 civilians in the last three months alone. The US-based rights group describes the situation in western Rwanda as an "under-reported civil war." The report also alleges the "killing of Rwandan refugees in Congo and of Congolese villages continues, with Rwandan soldiers often identified as perpetrators." PHR says the US administration "can use its influence with the government of Rwanda to stop the atrocities but only if it acknowledges that they are indeed occurring in both countries." It urges US government officials "to publicly acknowledge the presense of Rwandan army soldiers in Congo and to insist that those engaged in abuses there be removed and disciplined." Claiming that US special forces teams have provided "counter-insurgency training, including cross-border operations" the medical group calls for "a full disclosure of US security assistance to Rwanda" and the "suspension of all military aid to Rwanda and Congo until human rights abuses in both Congo and Rwanda have ended." The findings follow a two week mission to the DRC and western Rwanda by the PHR in June 1997, and were presented yesterday at a hearing convened by the House International Relations Committee.

* The Human Rights Field Office for Rwanda (HRFOR) concludes in a report into the status of genocide trials that "progress has been made" in terms of defendants' access to lawyers and the use of a confession proceedure, but safety threats continue to overshadow the trial process and, despite the widespread use of rape as an aspect of the genocide, charges of sexual crimes have only been brought against one defendant. The report, released yesterday and covering the first six months of the year, commends an improved performance in the following areas: prosecution witnesses have increasingly appeared in court to present their evidence; the appeal process has improved in the Kigali Court of Appeal; civil claimants are increasingly appearing in court to claim damages; detainees have had access to their files prior to trial and under improved conditions; in Byumba, Gitarama, Kibungo and Kigali Ville Prefectures, most accused have been represented by lawyers provided by the NGO Avocats sans Frontieres; defendants have complained less frequently of a lack of time to prepare their case, and; the Confession and Guilty Plea Procedure has begun to work "to some extent" with 25 confessions offered and accepted.

However, with respect to the trials, HRFOR has noted the following areas of concern: defence witnesses have rarely appeared in court, and some defence witnesses "have expressed fear as a reason for non-attendance"; legal representation of the accused and civil parties has been limited due to logistical and security constraints in the outlying prefectures; "in general", defendants were not granted the opportunity to question witnesses; lawyers, prosecutors, judges and witnesses have expressed fear for their personal safety; despite improvements in the effectiveness of the Confession and Guilty Plea Procedure, there have been instances of courts demanding "overly strict compliance", and; virtually no defendants have so far been charged with sexual crimes. By the end of June, a total of 142 judgements had been handed down. Those included 61 death sentences and eight acquittals.

* Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has "strongly supported the idea of Rwanda joining the East African Cooperation", Radio Rwanda reported yesterday following a one day meeting with Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame in Nairobi. The talks centred around bilateral cooperation and regional stability and the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, the radio said. The visit by Kagame, who is also Defence Minister, was the first high-level contact between the two countries since Kenya closed down the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi 13 months ago after Kigali refused to waive the immunity of a diplomat implicated in an attempted murder of an exiled Hutu politician.

* The Johannesburg-based Sunday Independent has claimed that Zimbabwe "possibly played the biggest foreign role in the liberation of the Democratic Republic of Congo". The paper alleged in its edition last Sunday that Zimbabwe's Defence Industries, under the direct orders of President Robert Mugabe, "supplied military weapons valued at US$38 million" to Laurent-Desire Kabila's forces. It claims that two Zimbabwean airforce planes, stationed at Lubumbashi, helped in the supply of the ADFL with ration-packs and equipment, and were also used to leapfrog ground troops as the rebels swept through the then Zaire. Zimbabwe's military contingent included "some of Mugabe's best pilots, paratroopers and intelligence men" and "Zimbabwe's considerable military expertise helped win the war," the paper says. Part of the rationale behind Harare's role in supplying the military equipment, it speculates, is that "future equipment would likely be ordered through Zimbabwe Defence Industries." The report also acknowledges the part played by soldiers from other African countries, alleging the participation of 2,000 Ugandan troops, 1,000 Zambians, with the largest contingents coming from Rwanda and Angola. * The Tanzanian government has launched an investigation into the deaths of three Tanzanians in the western region of Kigoma, allegedly shot by Burundian soldiers who mistook them for Hutu rebels, AFP reported yesterday. The victims - a couple and their child - were attacked as they worked on their farm in Mkingo on the border with Burundi. * Quoting "reliable army sources" the New Vision reports today that at least 26 rebels of an Allied Democratic Front (ADF) unit that attacked Kasese town, western Uganda, were killed in a clash Tuesday with their army pursuers at Kiyamirima in the mountains of Rukoki-sub-county. The reportedly 80-strong ADF group had raided the police barracks, an army detachment at Kasese airfield, and the town council dispensary Tuesday morning before escaping. At least 13 people were believed to have died in the attack, including six civilians. The same rebel group is believed to have torched 30 houses in another village in Kilembe sub-county as they fled, burning a man alive, according to AFP. The army caught up with the group in the afternoon. The news agency suggests rebel attacks in the area are aimed at halting the army's advance on their mountain hideouts in the Ruwenzori Mountains.

* Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and opposition leaders plan to meet next week to discuss constitutional reforms. The new spirit of dialogue began this week when Moi met religious leaders, followed by the head of the parliamentary opposition Kijana Wamalwa, facilitating the proposed talks. In another concession to opposition demands, Moi yesterday announced that permits would be issued automatically for public rallies - except for in special circumstances - pending debate in parliament on a new public order bill. The security forces' insistance on enforcing the former licensing regulation led to their violent suppression of pro-reform rallies on July 7 in which at least 13 people died, sparking more than a week of sporadic street protests. The opposition argues that elections due later this year cannot be free and fair without amending undemocratic and draconian aspects of the constitution. Moi has insisted that reform can only come after the elections. However, pro-democracy groups under the National Convention Executive Committee (NCEC) umbrella today threatened mass action to disrupt the polls unless reforms are implemented in the next four weeks. The presidential and parliamentary elections are due by the end of the year, but could technically be held early next year.

Nairobi, 17 July 1997 16:00 GMT [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 19:02:17 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 213 for 17 July 1997 97.7.17 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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