Rwandan Authorities Accused Of Killing 37 ‘Petty Criminals’

Rwandan Authorities Accused Of Killing 37 ‘Petty Criminals’

State security forces in Rwanda have summarily killed at least 37 suspected petty offenders since April 2016, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The report says it appears to be an officially sanctioned strategy to execute suspected thieves.

Witnesses told HRW the fate of one man, accused of stealing a cow was decided in a community meeting. Fulgence Rukundo was questioned about the stolen cow, and then taken to a community meeting with the district mayor. One witness described what happened next:

“When the meeting was finished, the soldiers walked Fulgence to a small field near a banana plantation. There were many of us following; some were primary students. We wanted to see what would happen… A soldier told him to stand up and walk, and another soldier told us to leave. At that moment, I heard three shots.”

Other witnesses told HRW that others who were killed had been accused of stealing bananas, a motorcycle, smuggling marijuana, illegally crossing the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo, or of using illegal fishing nets.

Rwandan officials denied to HRW that any extrajudicial executions had happened.

HRW said in 2015 that it had also documented the illegal detention of thousands, including street children and sex workers.