STRATEGY #6: Reform of the Security Sector

Dictatorships, in Rwanda and elsewhere, rely on the coercive machinery of the state to suppress citizens‟ aspirations for democracy. Similarly, President Kagame has turned the military and security institutions of Rwanda into instruments to promote and protect his personal financial and political interests. Rwanda‟s security institutions lack transparent management and democratic oversight. The military and security services are all controlled by President Kagame, his former body guards and personal assistants. The formal leaders of Rwanda‟s military structures often have no real power within the institutions they ostensibly lead. The command of military institutions is composed almost exclusively of members of President Kagame‟s inner circle and come from the Tutsi community, resulting in the exclusion of Rwanda‟s ethnic majority in the military and security services. Further, as Rwanda‟s government is essentially a military government with a façade of a democracy, Rwanda‟s military and security institutions do not have any civilian oversight.ave into this copy include: awards won, distinctions given, number of products sold, company philosophy (just keep it short), interesting company history bits, and anything that makes a reader think you'd be awesome to do business with.

President Kagame uses military and security institutions to prevent political groups other than the RPF to organize, recruit campaign or carry out activities to promote their policies and political agenda. Military and security institutions, instead of being used to guarantee the peace and security of the people, are abused and serve as instruments of repression and fear. The military and security institutions of the state enjoy impunity against human rights abuses, as these abuses are committed to keep President Kagame in power.

The military justice system of Rwanda does not meet the requirements for an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and bound by the rule of law. The system lacks the capacity and independence to ensure respect for fundamental human rights of both military personnel as well as civilian victims of human rights violations committed by state institutions. Currently, most military judges have no legal training; indeed, a large number of judges in the military justice system have minimum formal education. Military judges and prosecutors have no security of tenure and 13 members of the military personnel are themselves frequently victims of the shortcomings of the military justice system. Further, the military justice system is sometimes used to cover-up and hide crimes committed by military personnel for the purpose of persecuting the regime‟s political opponents. Reform of the security system is a prerequisite for democratization in Rwanda, as in other societies seeking political change.

The Rwanda National Congress advocates far-reaching reforms of the security sector, including the following:

  • Ensuring democratic civilian (parliamentary as well executive) oversight over military and security institutions
  • Ensuring collective management of military and security sector institutions through establishment of a National Security Council responsible for determining national security and defence policy; and making appointments and promotions in the military and security services proposing appointments to senior positions in the military and security services that require Parliamentary approval
  • Ensuring fair representation of all communities in the military and security services, including at all levels of command
  • Integration into the armed forces of members of exiled armed groups who are not responsible for, or linked to, genocide or other gross human rights violations
  • Dismantling the informal security networks that are used by the current government to frustrate the exercise of fundamental freedoms
  • Screening-out and removing persons responsible for gross human rights abuses from the Rwanda Defences Forces
  • Strict prohibition of military, police and security services involvement in partisan politics
  • Prohibition of the army and security services from carrying out law enforcement functions, other than in exceptional circumstances approved by Parliament
  • Professionalizing the military justice system to ensure that judges are independent, have the professional capacity to administer the law and that they respect fundamental human rights in performing their functions; providing for appeals to civilian courts for serious cases tried by military courts, to ensure the military does not cover-up human rights violations by its members; and abolishing military jurisdiction over civilians
  • Reduction of the army to a size that the country can afford and is commensurate with rational security and defense needs
  • Establishing Parliamentary control over the declaration of war


Strategy #7: Opening Space for Political Participation and Good Governance