Rwanda hosts the refugee population from RDC, Burundi, and other nationalities due to different reasons. These refugees are hosted in different camps across the country. The refugees hosted in Rwanda have rights and obligations under national and international law.
Refugees enjoy special status, like any other citizen, they are under obligation to respect and abide by the law(s) of the country that hosts them, and also they have to enjoy the same protection from national institutions as other citizens. This means that on one hand different institutions, organs and staff have to be aware of the treatment and protection to be given to refugees according to international and national laws and on the other hand, refugees have to be aware of the laws in force within the host country and to avoid any acts or behaviors that contravene the law.
Since November 2015, LAF is in charge of providing legal aid services to refugees such as legal advice, legal representation, legal education, services related to birth registration, etc. In addition to these services, refugees seek and receive services from other institutions such as sectors, Police, District etc. In general, refugees receive services sought; in order to improve the services provided to refugees, LAF has started the advocacy throughout different partners. This advocacy has been conducted through meeting with local authorities and security organs, where participants met and discussed on the rights of refugees and their protection offered by different organs.
Left - Workshop in Gisagara on 25th July 2018 and Right - Huye District on 26th July 2018
The advocacy started in 2016 and 2017. Participants discussed on the rights of refugees provided under international and national laws; they exchanged also on identified challenges met by refugees to access some services and how to facilitate them to access such services provided by Rwandan institutions at central and local level. This year, the workshops have been organized from 25th July to 06th August 2018 in Gisagara, Huye, Gicumbi, Gatsibo, Kirehe and Nyamagabe districts. In total 213 participants (148 males and 65 females) attended the workshops.
The overall objective of the workshops was to bring together local authorities, security organs and representatives of refugees in order to discuss on the rights of refugees. Specifically, the workshops informed participants about the rights and obligations of refugees provided under international laws ratified by Rwanda and also under national laws. The workshops offered opportunities for participants to discuss on the challenges related to the legal services needed by refugees and also to discuss on the actions to be taken in order to help refugees in harmony with the host community.
During workshop in Gicumbi District on 31st July 2018
During these workshops different participants attended the workshop, Refugee executive committees, executive secretaries of the cells, staff in charge of civil status at sector level, RIB staff/ district level, RIB staff/ at sector and camp level, Labour Inspectors at district level, Immigration officers/ Camp level, MIDMAR representatives at camp level, UNHCR representatives and directors in charge of good governance unit at District level.
During workshop in Kirehe District on 2nd August 2018.
During all these workshops 4 topics were discussed on in every district:
Refugees’ rights and obligations in the international and national context
Presentation on Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) missions and functioning
Presentation on crime prevention
Presentation on the prevention and punishment of gender-based violence (GBV)
During workshop in Nyamagabe District on 6th August 2018.
In Conclusion, All participants to the workshops were happy and they recognized the importance of such activity which allow them to discuss as participants from different institutions. They ensured their partnership to LAF and promised to work together for providing good services to refugees living in Rwanda.