For Rwanda’s sake, the Commonwealth must get relevant | Rwanda

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For Rwanda’s sake, the Commonwealth must get relevant

The President of the Opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza has travelled to Australia to share with the Commonwealth family what is happening in Rwanda, because in his own country he cannot speak out. Mr Habineza's Party Vice-President was murdered in suspicious circumstances before the 2010 election.

"For Rwanda's sake, the Heads of State must support the Eminent Persons Group recommendations this weekend to ensure that the Commonwealth can speak out when its values are violated in Rwanda," said Frank Habineza, President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

"After two days of participation in workshops at the Commonwealth Peoples Forum, I can confidently say that if the recommendations from the Eminent Persons Group are not implemented then neither Australia nor any other Commonwealth nation will be able to ensure democracy and human rights in Rwanda," said Mr Habineza.

"Without reform the Commonwealth will loose the respect of the community if it just watches rogue member governments oppress their people. People will only stay engaged in the Commonwealth if they see it taking credible action when members are undemocratic – and this means reforms have to occur to the way the Commonwealth does business"

"Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in 2009 despite serious concerns being expressed about intimidation of opposition parties and the independent media. Since joining the Commonwealth the oppression and violence against opposition and media has got worse not better !" said Mr Habineza.

"Back in 2009 Commonwealth members like Australia said that granting Rwanda membership would help to entrench the rule of law and support democracy. But without reforms to the way the Commonwealth acts, it will not be able to deliver on this promise and the Rwandan Government's practises will bring down the reputation of the Commonwealth. " said Amy Tyler, Spokesperson for Friends of Rwandan Greens.

"The Rwandan people deserve democracy and a free media and the Commonwealth can help deliver this, if the Heads of State agree to the core recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group, including the reform of the Ministerial Action Group and the appointment of an independent human rights commissioner,"

"The Commonwealth must acknowledge the responsibility that they have assumed by accepting Rwanda into the Commonwealth family. I am very concerned that the Commonwealth membership is being used as a public relations cover for the Rwandan Government while they engage in extremely undemocratic behaviour at home." said Ms Tyler.