Country Report on Terrorism 2013 - Chapter 2 - Rwanda

Overview: Although Rwanda was not directly threatened by al-Shabaab and associated terrorist groups during 2013, fighting by armed groups along Rwanda’s borders created instability and generated the potential for terrorist transit. Improving the counterterrorism capacity of its security services remained a high priority for the Government of Rwanda; however, no new counterterrorism initiatives were launched in 2013.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Terrorism is subject to prosecution in Rwanda under the 2008 law on counterterrorism. The list of terrorism-related offenses was clarified and expanded in the 2012 penal code reform. Rwanda lacks a counterterrorism strategy and its security services are ill-equipped to detect, deter, or respond to acts of terrorism. It is also unclear which security organ (military, intelligence, or police) would have jurisdiction in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack. An Antiterrorism Unit exists within the Rwanda National Police (RNP); however, the officers have no specialized training, equipment, or mandate.

Relations between the RNP and its law enforcement counterparts in most of the East African Community (EAC) are strong, particularly with Uganda, but counterterrorism collaboration in 2013 was limited. After the Nairobi Westgate Mall attack in October, police chiefs from all EAC states convened in Kampala to discuss better ways to fight terrorism in the region. Measures agreed upon included the establishment of a counterterrorism planning desk, to be hosted and coordinated by Rwanda, and regular EAC meetings on ways to fight terrorism. These commitments had not been implemented by year’s end.

The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration has installed computer systems at Kigali International Airport (KGL), allowing for biometric screening upon arrival. The Directorate has also begun placing computers at its land-border crossings, but at year’s end there were no biometric capabilities; the computers were used strictly for electronic data entry only. Immigration screening systems and databases at points of entry were not able to communicate with each other, making border protection ineffective. The Directorate raised this issue directly with the United States, asking for assistance to implement a proper screening system at its borders and airports, and also asked about establishing a terrorist screening watchlist, which it did not have.

The Government of Rwanda prosecuted 13 Rwandan citizens for terrorism under Article 497 of the 2012 Penal Code in relation to grenade attacks and other alleged activities. Most notably, on November 13, the prosecution of Presidential bodyguard Joel Mutabazi for terrorism began. The United States and other international human rights organizations consider the charges politically motivated, aimed at stifling internal dissent.

A lack of trained and qualified personnel was the main impediment to effective law enforcement and border security within Rwanda. Government interference into investigations and legal proceedings is another major restraint.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Rwanda is not a member of a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The county’s financial system is capable of electronic funds transfers, including mobile banking. Rwanda’s 2012 penal code prohibits money laundering and terrorist financing by individuals and entities. The Government of Rwanda investigates and prosecutes terrorist finance under the 2008 Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act, which established the legislative framework to adhere to international money laundering standards. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Rwanda continued to play a leadership role in peacekeeping efforts in Africa. In November, the RNP deployed 140 officers to Mali in support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which is currently commanded by RDF Major General Jean-Bosco Kazura. Rwanda is a member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Rwanda continued to carry out programs to welcome returnees to Rwanda, including demobilized combatants from the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). Over 200 FDLR ex-combatants were reintegrated into Rwandan society in 2013, after receiving training and assistance through the Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission. Rwanda welcomed back over 20,000 refugees and other citizens expelled from neighboring countries during the year. For both civilian returnees and ex-combatants, the Government of Rwanda carried out extensive public relations campaigns to reach target audiences and encourage their peaceful return.