Dáil Éireann - Volume 484 - 09 December, 1997
Written Answers. - Government Policy on Rwanda.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
128. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his policy towards the current Government of Rwanda. [21978/97]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews) David Andrews
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): Since the genocide that occurred there in 1994, the Government's policy on Rwanda has been to encourage the Rwandan Government to achieve stability and national reconciliation between the opposing Tutsi and Hutu sides. The Irish Government firmly believes full observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms and a policy of inclusiveness for all groups is essential to overcome ethnic divisions and to achieve meaningful progress in building a stable society. Ireland is working towards this end through its direct contacts with the Rwandan authorities on a bilaterial level and in concert with our partners in the international community.
The recent escalation of violence in north-west Rwanda, including armed attacks, the forced release of genocide suspects from detention and the killing of civilians reflects the fragility of the situation in the country and underlines the paramount necessity of increasing stability in Rwanda. The achievement of national stability in Rwanda necessitates the bringing of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide and other human rights violations to justice, as well as safeguarding the rights of returnees, genocide survivors and the country's huge prison population. It also requires ongoing support from the international donor community in order to help ensure that the Government of Rwanda takes concrete steps towards the implementation of a sustainable, fair and inclusive programme of national reconciliation and economic and social development.
The objective of the Government's programme of assistance to Rwanda is to help to rebuild a complex society in a way that leads towards national reconciliation and sustainable development for all its people. The programme is two-fold. It aims to meet the basic needs of both the returning refugees and the survivors of the genocide in such areas of shelter, water and sanitation. At the same time, we are supporting the rehabilitation of the system of justice which was almost completely destroyed as a result of the conflict. This is essential if Rwandan society is to develop in a fair and equitable way.
National reconciliation and reconstruction in Rwanda will facilitate the establishment of an  inclusive democratic society in that country with full respect for human rights and the rule of law. We consider that efforts to this end should draw upon the principles of power sharing between Rwanda's Hutu and Tutsi parties which were agreed by them under the 1993 Arusha Accords. We will continue to press the Rwandan authorities on the need for an urgent debate between all parties on the modalities of a transition to democracy in their country. All parties in Rwanda must realise that political objectives cannot be obtained by using military means.
The Government is keeping the political and human rights situation in Rwanda under close review, in co-operation with our EU partners. The EU special envoy to the Great Lakes, Mr. Ajello, intends to explore with the Rwandan authorities, in his forthcoming visit there, how to deepen the dialogue between the EU and Rwanda. EU heads of mission in Kigali have been asked for their assessment of the security situation in north-west Rwanda and at the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
I understand that the reports of increasing violence in Rwanda were also a matter of serious concern to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson, when she visited Rwanda last week.
Dáil Éireann 484 Written Answers. Government Policy on Rwanda.