Human Rights

23 May 2012

Survivors Fund (SURF) today tabled a submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) in response to a new inquiry into the human rights work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2011, which is documented in its 2011 Report on Human Rights and Democracy.

Our response (which can be downloaded in full here) relates specifically to the content of the report, in particular as it pertains to omissions relating to issues of justice for survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. In summary:

  • Survivors Fund (SURF) applauds the fact that “the UK is increasing its aid to Rwanda”, though we call on the FCO to support the Government of Rwanda in assisting genocide survivors, a particularly vulnerable and marginalised population in Rwanda, in particular in enforcing their right to reparation;
  • Survivors Fund (SURF) challenges the assertion that the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is “bringing justice to the Rwandan people.” The survivor’s organisations we represent, assert that the ICTR has failed resolutely to deliver restorative justice to survivors of the genocide in the form of reparation and we call on the FCO to work to address this shortcoming;
  • The FCO’s failure to extradite suspected perpetrators of human rights abuses during the genocide living in the UK, or to prosecute them through UK Courts, is undermining the goal of ensuring that the UK is not a safe haven for such suspects;
  • These failures detract from and undermine the FCO’s positive work.

The submission concludes with three recommendations, that the FAC should:

  • call on the FCO to support the Government of Rwanda in assisting the survivors of the genocide in Rwanda through increase aid for this most vulnerable and marginalised target population, and foster the legislative and fiduciary environment for the enforcement of the rights of genocide survivors to reparation.
  • call on the FCO to support the delivery of the UN General Assembly resolution requesting the Secretary General to encourage relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to provide assistance in the areas of education, medical care, skills training and microcredit programmes aimed at promoting self-sufficiency for survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, which will deliver restorative justice for the Rwandan people denied to them through the limited mandate of the ICTR.
  • call on the FCO to actively support the extradition of the suspected genocide suspects back to Rwanda, or else call on the Crown Prosecution Service to open prosecutions to ensure that their cases are heard in UK courts, and in so doing making the UK a non-safe haven for suspected perpetrators of human rights abusers.

We now await a response to the FAC in due course, on which we will keep you posted.

The full submission is available to download here.