Rwandan security forces have summarily executed at least 37 petty criminals since April of last year in the western part of the country according to a report by the Human Rights Watch.
The charges against these people ranged from accusations of them stealing motorcycles and cows to using illegal fishing nets.
The HRW as well claims that this is a strategy of the Rwandan government to “spread fear, enforce order and deter any resistance to government orders or policies.”
More than 100 witnesses gave their accounts of the events, some of these being friends and family members of the victims.
The findings were shared with government officials in the country but they deny that these executions happened.
According to Daniel Bekele, senior director of Africa advocacy for the HRW, authorities threatened anyone who asked questions regarding the executions and disappearances instead of providing aid.
Many families had to bury the victims in secret with some even leaving their villages over fear of being targeted themselves.
One witness states that the fate of one of the victims was decided in a community meeting and was then taken to a banana field where he was shot three times.
The HRW report even states that two of the men were killed by civilians with local authorities encouraging their executions.
Image of some of the victims from Human Rights Watch
More details to follow.
Published by: The New Union
Written by: Dante Lugo