- Rwanda has suffered yet another blow after its application to join the 53-member English-speaking Commonwealth bloc was questioned over its alleged bad human rights record and media repression.
According to a report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Rwanda’s recent military intervention in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, strict laws baring genocide ideology and harassment of independent journalists are some of the issues in question before its accession.
Rwanda's application to join the bloc will be considered at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago in November, with its bid being strongly supported by the UK and its African neighbours.
Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame believes Commonwealth membership will offer economic, cultural and political benefits to his country.
The CHRI has however, acknowledged that Rwanda's government investment on health and education over the past 15 years, including bridging the gender parity and having half the legislature as female, as a positive move.
It further commended the country for low corruption and the work ethic of government officials which has put neighbouring countries to shame.
But the initiative, whose report was prepared by Professor Yash Pal Ghai, a Kenyan constitutional expert, said Rwanda's governance was wanting and its human rights record was "very poor".
It said Rwandan troops had carried out abuses during three incursions into Congo, and that the Gacaca (community justice) courts established to try genocide suspects violated international standards.
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