The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) joins Rwanda, African Union (AU) member States and the international community in the commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, pursuant to Assembly/ AU / Dec.695 of July 2018, designating 7th April of each year as the African Union Day of Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the UN General Assembly Decision 72/550 of 26 January 2018 designating 7th April as the International day of reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
In remembrance of the most catastrophic tragedy in recent African and human history that claimed the lives of nearly a million mostly Tutsi Rwandese, the African Commission pays tribute to all those who lost their lives and expresses its solidarity with and honors the resilience of the survivors of the genocide.
The African Commission commends Rwanda for the remarkable progress it has achieved rising from the ashes of genocide and urges the necessity for preventing reversals by fighting against the ideology of genocide and genocide denialism and upholding the rights and freedoms enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter).
The African Commission recognizes that the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide also serves as a reminder that genocide, as the most gross and systematic violation of human and peoples’ rights, entails the complete negation of nearly all the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the African Charter including, among others, the right to non-discrimination under Article 2, equality under Article 3, inviolability of human beings and the right to life and integrity of every human being under Article 4, respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and protection from torture under Article 5, the right to the security of the person under Article 6, the right to free association under Article 10, the right to physical and mental health under Article 16, the right to culture under Article 17, the right to family under Article 18, the right of peoples to equality and to be free from domination by other people under Article 19, and the right of all peoples to existence under Article 20.
The African Commission notes with deep regrets that the 1994 genocide was made possible by, among others, the failures of African and international actors to take preventive measures before the mass violence started or to stop it once it has started, as documented by the Organization of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events report, ‘The Preventable Genocide’.
Heeding the lessons of the 1994 genocide requires that the AU and the international community do not allow themselves to be spectators in the face of gross violations of human and peoples’ rights and international humanitarian law in various conflict situations on the continent.
In commemorating this day, the African Commission expresses its alarm by the spread hate speech, xenophobia, religious radicalism and extremism, violent nationalism, the propagation of inter-communal violence, and denialism of the 1994 genocide, which create the conditions for mass violence including genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
On this solemn occasion, the African Commission reminds states parties to the African Charter that they bear primary responsibility for taking legislative, institutional and educational measures to prevent the conditions that lead to genocide and other forms of mass atrocities and for enabling both the investigation of reports of mass atrocities and the provision of accountability and remedial measures, including through instituting transitional justice processes as envisaged in the AU Transitional Justice Policy and the African Commission’s Study on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights