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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Republic of Rwanda

Both ordinary criminal suspects and political detainees are routinely subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody. Extrajudicial executions of suspected criminals by security personnel still occur with some frequency. Disappearances, physical assaults, and assassinations targeting journalists, opposition members, and other regime critics have been reported.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Rwanda

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Rwanda.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Rwanda

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 5 August 2021]


There were several reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities. In June Venant Abayisenga went missing. Abayisenga was a member of DALFA-Umurinzi, an unregistered opposition party under the leadership of government critic Victoire Ingabire.

The government failed to complete investigations or take measures to ensure accountability for disappearances that occurred in 2019 and 2018 such as those of Eugene Ndereyimana and Boniface Twagirimana.

There were reports the Rwanda Defense Force’s (RDF) military intelligence personnel were responsible for disappearances, illegal detention, and torture. Some advocates reported that RDF intelligence personnel took suspected political opponents to unofficial detention centers where they were subject to beatings and other cruel and degrading treatment with the purpose of extracting intelligence information.


Human rights advocates continued to report instances of illegally detained individuals tortured in unofficial detention centers. Advocates including HRW claimed that military, police, and intelligence personnel employed torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to obtain information and forced confessions, which in some cases resulted in criminal convictions. Some defendants in addition alleged in court they had been tortured while in detention to confess to crimes they did not commit, but there were no reports of any judges ordering an investigation into such allegations or dismissing evidence obtained under torture, and there were no reported prosecutions of state security forces personnel for torture.


Conditions were generally harsh and life threatening in unofficial detention centers. Reports from previous years indicated individuals detained at such centers suffered from limited access to food, water, and health care.

Conditions were often harsh and life threatening at district transit centers holding street children, street vendors, suspected drug abusers, persons engaged in prostitution, homeless persons, and suspected petty criminals. Overcrowding was common in police stations and district transit centers. Human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported authorities at district transit centers frequently failed to adhere to the requirements of a 2018 ministerial order determining the “mission, organization, and functioning” of transit centers.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Both ordinary criminal suspects and political detainees are routinely subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody. Extrajudicial executions of suspected criminals by security personnel still occur with some frequency. Disappearances, physical assaults, and assassinations targeting journalists, opposition members, and other regime critics have been reported in recent years, including in 2019.

UN anti-torture team cancels Rwanda visit, again

Ivan R. Mugisha, The East African, 16 July 2018

[accessed 17 July 2018]

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has cancelled its mission to Rwanda after suspending the visit last October.

The UN body accuses Kigali of lack of cooperation.

"In 11 years of exercising its mandate and more than 60 visits, it is the first time the SPT is terminating a visit before its completion. There was no realistic prospect of the visit being successfully resumed and concluded within a reasonable timeframe," the agency said in a statement on July 4.

Human Rights Commission given more responsibilities

Emmanuel Ntirenganya, The New Times, 21 January 2018

[accessed 22 January 2018]

The National Human Rights Commission has been given more responsibilities and power to access any place where torture against a person is assumed, under the draft law approved by cabinet on Friday. Such suspected places include prisons, psychiatric hospitals, courts, among others.

Speaking during a post cabinet press conference yesterday, Johnston Busingye, the Minister for Justice and Attorney General said the decision by the cabinet means that the Commission has particular rights, responsibilities and power to prevent, fight torture, protect, defend strive for people’s rights and ensuring that anyone involved gets punished.

Submission to the Committee Against Torture: Rwanda -- 62nd session of the Committee Against Torture

Human Rights Watch, 14 November 2017

[accessed 14 November 2017]

Human Rights Watch has closely monitored human rights in Rwanda for over 20 years. Torture and ill-treatment have been persistent problems in Rwanda and have been perpetrated with near impunity.   Between 2010 and 2016, scores of people suspected of collaborating with “enemies” of the Rwandan government were detained unlawfully and tortured in military detention centers by Rwandan army soldiers and intelligence officers. Some of these people were held in unknown locations, including incommunicado, for prolonged periods and in inhuman conditions.

Severe beatings, electric shocks, asphyxiation and mock executions were used to force suspects to confess, or to incriminate others. Former detainees were held for up to nine months in extremely harsh and inhuman conditions, with insufficient food and water to meet their basic needs. Human Rights Watch received allegations that some detainees were killed, but we were unable to verify these reports.   In many cases, after several months of illegal detention—and often only after detainees had signed a statement under torture—the Rwandan authorities transferred them to official detention centers, including civilian prisons, and they were then charged and put on trial. The period of their detention in military centers was erased from the public record.

Unlawful Military Detention, Torture

Beatings, Asphyxiations, Electric Shocks, Mock Executions to Extract Confessions

Human Rights Watch, 10 October 2017

[accessed 23 November 2017]

In most cases, victims were interrogated, ill-treated or tortured, and forced to sign confessions, often based on fabricated allegations, while they were victims of an enforced disappearance. They were then eventually taken before prosecutors, who often pressured suspects to confirm their confessions and, to the best of Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, did not investigate alleged abuses during detention. Some detainees were released as suddenly and as arbitrarily as they had been arrested, often in groups, without any charges or judicial procedure.

Many said that torture sessions began immediately when they arrived at the military detention center. Many were handcuffed while soldiers slapped and punched them or beat them with sticks. “[When we arrived] at Kami, I was still blindfolded,” one former detainee said. “They told me to lie on the ground. Two soldiers stood on me, one on my head and one on my feet. They stood on me and beat me. Then they made me curl up into a ball, tied me up, and pulled my legs and arms. They did this for hours and kept telling me to confess.”

If the suspect failed to give the soldiers the answers they wanted, the beatings continued, often several times a day. Other detainees described asphyxiation, electric shocks, mock executions, and tying objects to men’s genitals. Some detainees’ hands were handcuffed to their legs for months on end, with soldiers only taking the handcuffs off so the men could use the toilet. Many former detainees told Human Rights Watch, prosecutors, or judges that they signed false statements because they could not stand the torture or believed they would die.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


UNLAWFUL DETENTION AND ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - Dozens of people were held unlawfully, incommunicado in the military Camp Kami and other detention centers, some for several weeks or months. Some were tortured and pressured to confess to alleged crimes or to incriminate others. Some of these detainees were later tried on security-related charges. From March to time of writing, at least 30 people were reported missing, many in northwestern Rwanda. Some were arrested by state agents and taken to unknown destinations. After several weeks, some of the disappeared reappeared in police detention and were transferred to civilian prisons. Some were among a group of 16 people who appeared before a court in Rubavu in June, accused of endangering state security and collaborating with the FDLR. Government authorities did not acknowledge their unlawful detention or account for their whereabouts during the preceding period, failings which render their detentions enforced disappearances. In a speech on June 5, President Kagame said authorities would continue to arrest suspects and, if necessary, shoot in broad daylight those intending to destabilize the country.

Throughout the year, hundreds of men, women, and children—many of them street children, commercial sex workers, or street hawkers—were detained unlawfully, without charge or trial, in very poor conditions in an unrecognized detention center commonly known as Kwa Kabuga, in the Gikondo area of Kigali. Many were beaten by police, or by other detainees in the presence of police.

Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy - Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence [PDF]

Amnesty International, International Secretariat, UK, 2012

[accessed 9 April 2014]

[accessed 29 August 2016]

Amnesty International AI, 8 October 2012, Index number: AFR 47/004/2012

Download the Report at

[accessed 13 January 2019]

SUMMARY - This report details unlawful detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment and enforced disappearances, mostly of civilians, at the hands of Rwanda’s military intelligence, known as J2. It is based on information gathered during more than two years of research, including seven visits to Rwanda. The report documents more than 45 cases of unlawful detention and  18 allegations of torture or other ill-treatment by Rwandan military intelligence in 2010 and 2011. Some individuals who were disappeared remain in secret detention in 2012.  Amnesty International believes that the actual number of people who were detained and who were at risk of, or subjected to, torture and other ill-treatment during this period is higher than those documented here.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/RWA/CO/1 (2012)

[accessed 5 March 2013]

Allegations of torture and ill-treatment

10. The Committee expresses its concern about allegations of torture that has occurred in some detention facilities in the State party, in particular reports of 18 cases of torture and ill-treatment (such as severe beatings and electric shocks) during interrogations by Rwanda military intelligence in the Kami and Kinyinga camps, and by other security personnel in “unlawful places,” including the mistreatment of political prisoners, notably Bertrand Ntaganda, Célestin Yumvihoze, Dominique Shyirambere and Victoire Ingabire (arts. 2, 11, 12 and 13).

Report on secret detention centres

11. The Committee, though noting the statement by the delegation denying the existence of detention in secret places, nevertheless expresses its concern about reports of detainees held in “unofficial detention centres” without having been charged of a crime or brought before a court, nor having access to independent lawyers and to a doctor. The Committee is concerned at the reported 45 cases of unlawful detention in military camps and other alleged secret detention facilities in 2010 and 2011, where the time of detention ranged from 10 days to two years without the provision of legal safeguards (arts. 2, 11 and 12).

Fundamental legal safeguards

12. While noting that fundamental legal safeguards for detainees are provided for in the legislation of the State party, the Committee is concerned at reports that with regard to detainees held in police stations, prisons or other detention facilities, fundamental legal safeguards are not systematically applied in accordance with international standards. The Committee is particularly concerned that detainees can allegedly be held for a long period in pretrial detention without appearing before a judge, and that they do not have access to a lawyer or a doctor of their choice or to an independent medical examination, in accordance with international standards. In addition, they do not have the right to notify a family member or a relative. The Committee is further concerned at the lack of a centralized registration system of those deprived of their liberty (art. 2).

Coerced confessions

23. While noting information in the State party’s report that evidence obtained through torture or any cruel or degrading method is prohibited, the Committee is concerned about reports that individuals charged with threatening national security and detained at Kami or Mukamira military camps as well as in “safehouses” in Kigali had made confessions due to beatings and torture. The Committee is particularly concerned that judges did not require investigations into such cases but placed the burden of proof on the persons charged (art. 15)..

World Report 2012: Rwanda

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 11 February 2013]

TRIALS LINKED TO 2010 GRENADE ATTACKS - Twenty-nine people were tried in connection with a series of grenade attacks in Rwanda in 2010 and previous years. Most of the defendants plead guilty. Several stated in court that they had been illegally detained in military detention for several months and tortured.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

IMPUNITY – The government failed to investigate and prosecute cases of illegal detention and allegations of torture by Rwandan military intelligence. In May and October, Amnesty International published evidence of illegal and incommunicado detention and enforced disappearances. The research included allegations of torture, including serious beatings, electric shocks and sensory deprivation used to force confessions during interrogations, mostly of civilians, in 2010 and 2011.

In May, the government categorically denied all allegations of illegal detentions and torture by Rwandan military intelligence before the UN Committee against Torture. In June, the Rwandan Minister of Justice acknowledged that illegal detentions had occurred, attributing them to operatives’ “excessive zeal in the execution of a noble mission”. On 7 October, the government issued a statement reaffirming that illegal detentions had taken place, but made no reference to investigations or prosecutions.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 13 January 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits torture; however, during the year a local NGO reported that an official committed acts of torture in the Nyamirambo Sector of Kigali City's Nyamirambo District. In addition another local NGO reported that it received approximately 96 clients each month who requested assistance for torture victims; however, an undetermined number of these victims may have been tortured during the genocide. During the year there were fewer reports of police officers abusing suspects; however, police officers sometimes reportedly beat suspects at the time of arrest. In addition the National Human Rights Commission, created by the National Assembly in 1999, reported that the government operated secret, illegal detention centers (in Kibungo Province, for example); however, although the Senate was expected to investigate these reports, they had not been confirmed by year's end.

There were numerous reports that police arrested, detained, and beat members of Jehovah's Witnesses because they refused--on religious grounds--to participate in nighttime security patrols (see section 2.c.). During the year police reportedly beat at least 12 Jehovah's Witnesses while they were in police custody. However, according to the Jehovah's Witness National Executive Council, prison and detention center beatings of Jehovah's Witnesses were less numerous than in the previous year.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Rwanda",, [accessed <date>]