On the occasion of the celebration of this June 20, 2024, World Refugee Day, theFollow-upCommittee of Rwandan Refugee Issues (CSPR) would like to remind all actors of the international
community in general, and particularly the countries hosting refugees, of the obligationtoprotectrefugees and offer them more means of relief. That is, finding solutions that resettle refugeesandhelp them rebuild their lives with dignity. Resettlement to third countries or integrationof refugeesinto communities where they have found safety after fleeing conflict and persecutionhavebeentested and proven to be the most effective way to help them restart their lives and enablethemtocontribute actively and positively to the lives of the countries that host them. International
protection bodies also recognize that this is the best way to prepare refugees to returnhomeandrebuild their country, when conditions allow them to do so voluntarily and safely, or to prosperandlive in dignity if they are resettled in another country. Unfortunately, very few refugees haveaccessto resettlement in a third country or local integration solutions. Regarding the nagging problem of the Rwandan refugees, the search for durable solutions, whichhadled to the premature invocation of the cessation clause applicable to refugees from1959to31December 1998, had only exacerbated the precariousness of the refugees. It is true that thesituationhas not unfolded as the Rwandan Government, which was at the root of this prematureinvocationwould have liked – a big thank you to the host countries who have shown humanism- but therealityis that many refugees have lost protection and are currently plunged into a legal vacuumofundocumented or stateless persons. People who find themselves in such a situation cannot enjoyall
human rights, let alone participate fully in society and achieve the self-sufficiency of basic needssodesired. Why are Rwandan refugees afraid to return home? The answer is that the obstacles tovoluntaryrepatriation are identical to the reasons why the flow of would-be exiles does not decrease. Haditnot been for the fact that Rwanda under the control of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) hasbecome a veritable open-air prison, the country would have already been emptied of most of itspopulation. Reports from renowned impartial institutions such as the US State Department, HumanRights Watch, Amnesty International, and many others, regularly paint a bleak picture of thesituationin Rwanda in terms of lack of democratization of institutions and separation of powers, violationofhuman rights, violation of freedom of association and expression. These reports refer to arbitrary or unlawful executions, including extrajudicial executions, harshandlife-threatening conditions of detention, arbitrary arrest or detention, of political prisonersordetainees, transnational repression against individuals in another country, kidnapping of opponents,

arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, punishment of family members for allegedoffencescommitted by a parent, enforced disappearances or abductions, severe restrictions onfreedomofexpression and media freedom, including threats of violence against journalists, arrests, killingsorunjustified prosecutions of journalists, and censorship, severe restrictions on internet freedom, substantial interference with freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, includinghighly restrictive laws on the organization, funding or operation of non-governmental organizationsand civil society, severe and unreasonable restrictions on political participation, severe governmental
restrictions or harassment of national and international human rights organizations. Recently, journalists from the organization Forbidden Stories investigated the hidden faceof Paul
Kagame’s regime and revealed in Rwanda Classified how the Rwandan government intends tosilencecritical voices, both within its borders and abroad. Similarly, with regard to the saga of asylum seekers that the British government would liketosendtoRwanda, lawyers representing UNHCR in court have stated that sending asylumseekers fromBritainto Rwanda, as the government plans to do, “puts them at risk of being sent to another countrywherethey risk death or torture, known as refoulement”. Rwandan refugees also have other specific reasons that prevent their voluntary return, suchas:
 The fear that their safety and human rights will not be protected if they return to Rwanda. Theauthorities responsible for their exile are waiting for them on the pretext that they wouldreturnto take away the power they manage with methods that are as cruel as they are authoritarian;
 A justice system that is extremely instrumentalized and security organs won over to theviolenceof Paul Kagame’s authoritarian regime;
 failure of a true national reconciliation, because of the ethnic tensions slyly maintainedbythegovernment in place under the false pretext that ethnic groups no longer exist in Rwanda. Theresult is that the Tutsis control all the levers of knowledge, power and possessions, tothegreatdispleasure of the Hutus;
 The spoliation of the property of refugees as well as that of other peaceful citizens andeconomicoperators;
 The armed conflicts initiated and maintained by Rwanda that follow one another on theterritoryof the Democratic Republic of Congo and which have extremely serious consequences fortheCongolese populations and Rwandan refugees;
 Rwandan embassies, instead of carrying out their mission as defined in the Vienna ConventiononDiplomatic Relations, have been transformed into bastions of death squads where schemesof all

kinds are hatched with the aim of harassing, destabilizing, or even murdering Rwandan refugees.In this regard, the regime of President Paul Kagame does not hold back on the financial meansintended for the accomplishment of such a disastrous mission.
All things considered, the CSPR recommends:
To the international community in general, UNHCR and host countries in particular to bear in mindthat Rwandan refugees have well-founded reasons to fear for their lives and to:
a. reinstate the protection of those rejected by the Cessation Clause applicable to refugees from1959 to 31 December 1998 who have become virtually stateless; and to grant protection toRwandan nationals who are new asylum seekers.
b. protect Rwandan refugees from acts of extra-territorial persecution by the Rwandangovernment through its diplomatic representations;
c. exercise caution when signing bilateral agreements containing the extradition clause that theRwandan government often offers to countries hosting Rwandan refugees to be able to harmthem “legally”.
To the Government of Rwanda to:
a. end its campaign of harassment and destabilization of refugees and political opponents;
b. create conditions conducive to the voluntary repatriation of refugees in complete safety anddignity, including but not limited to: the establishment of institutions independent of theexecutive power, respect for the values of democracy, human rights, freedom of expressionand association, the dismantling of repressive laws, the organization of a highly inclusive interRwandan dialogue, the opening of political space, the end of destabilization activities in thecountries of the subregion and promote the policy of good neighborliness.
Done at Lyon, June 20, 2024
Theobald Rutihunza
Coordinator of The Follow-up Committee of Rwandan Refugee Issues (CSPR)

written by Obed Ndahayo (priest’s son)

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