Treatment of Hutu clergy (in particular, the Seventh Day Adventists) by the Rwandan authorities and the general public (2002-2003) [RWA41961.FE]

No information on the treatment of the Hutu clergy-in particular, the Seventh Day Adventists-by the Rwandan authorities and the general public could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Nevertheless, according to the Euro-Africa News Network, a publication of Euro-Africa, an affiliate of the Seventh Day Adventist Church based in Bern, Switzerland,

[Euro-Africa News English version]
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has some 350,000 members in Rwanda and operates three schools, one hospital and nine clinics around the country. An estimated 10,000 Adventist Church members lost their lives in the inter-tribal conflict of 1994 (19 Feb. 2003).

However, a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, whose rank [translation] "is more or less equivalent to that of a bishop" in the Catholic Church, and his son Gérard, [translation] "a former doctor from the Bisesero hills in Kibuye Prefecture," were reportedly implicated in the 1994 genocide (Diplomatie judiciaire 15 Sept. 2001). There were two indictments issued against them. In the first indictment they were charged with

genocide, aiding and abetting in committing genocide, intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of article 3 common to the Geneva conventions and of Additional Protocol II (ibid. 13 May 2002).

In the second indictment, they were charged with [translation] "genocide, aiding and abetting in committing genocide, intent to commit genocide and crimes against humanity" (ibid.). Elizaphan Ntakirutimana was arrested in Texas in December 1997 and transferred to the Criminal Tribunal in Arusha on 24 March 2000 (ibid.). In February 2003, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced Elizaphan Ntakirutimana to 10 years in prison and his son to 25 years in prison for the roles they played in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 (Euro-Africa News Network 19 Feb. 2003).


[Euro-Africa News English version]
. . . the United Nations tribunal said that Gérard Ntakirutimana, 45, a medical doctor practicing at the Mugonero Adventist Hospital was convicted of genocide and of crimes against humanity (murder) and Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78, was convicted of aiding and abetting in genocide.
. . .
The ICTR said that the judges delivered a unanimous verdict, and, subject to any appeal, the father and son will serve their sentences in the prisons of one of the countries with which the tribunal has an agreement for the enforcement of sentences. The tribunal has now convicted 10 accused and acquitted one (ibid.).

In addition,

[Euro-Africa News English version]
Since allegations against Ntakirutimana first surfaced, Adventist officials have urged a resolution of the charges through appropriate legal forums. The church has cooperated fully with both the United Nations tribunal and with defense lawyers for Ntakirutimana and his son (ibid.).


[Euro-Africa News English version]
Adventist world church leaders and the church in Rwanda have made reconciliation-both within the general community and among church membership-one of their highest post-civil war priorities. In March 1998, a series of major "reconciliation conferences" were sponsored by the Adventist Church, and were aimed at promoting frank discussions and rebuilding trust between rival tribes. Adventist minister Esdras Mpyisi, once advisor to the former king of Rwanda, led out in the talks in which representatives from warring factions determined to work together toward mutual tolerance and understanding (ibid.).

According to Country Reports 2001,

Unlike in the previous year, local officials did not detain persons who, on religious grounds, refused to participate in nighttime security patrols or cooperate in other government programs, including adherents of "Temperance" and "Abagorozi." Both groups are said to be offshoots of the Adventist Church and Jehovah's Witnesses (4 Mar. 2002).

The International Religious Freedom Report 2002 noted that freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the government generally respects this right in practice, but does impose some restrictions (7 Oct. 2002).

However, the International Religious Freedom Report 2002 and the Amnesty International 2003 annual report agree that the respect for religious freedom deteriorated during 2002 (International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002; AI 2003, 212).

For its part, Amnesty International reported that seven members of a congregation belonging to the Association of Pentecostal Churches in the Gikondo district, city of Kigali, were arrested and detained for 15 days in November 2002 (ibid.). Members of this congregation were also attacked by the security forces in November 2002 (ibid.). According to Amnesty International, "[n]o one had been held to account for these attacks by the end of 2002" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 2003. Amnesty International Report 2003. London: Amnesty International.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. 4 March 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. [Accessed 5 Sept. 2003]

Diplomatie judiciaire [Mugonero]. 13 May 2002. "Elizaphan Ntakirutimana : Pasteur de l'église adventiste." [Accessed 3 Sept. 2003]

_____. 15 September 2001. "Bon prédicateur, oui, bon pasteur, moins certain." [Accessed 3 Sept. 2003]

Euro-Africa News Network [Bern]. 19 February 2003. "Un pasteur rwandais déclaré coupable par un tribunal des Nations unies."çais/2003/files/004.html [Accessed 3 Sept. 2003]

International Religious Freedom Report 2002. 7 October 2002. "Rwanda." United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. [Accessed 4 Sept. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Research Bulletin:

Political, Cultural and Social Series


Amnesty International. Annual Reports

L'Autre Afrique

Country Reports 2000-2002

General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists

Keesing's Record of World Events

New African

Resource Centre country file. Rwanda

Rwanda Research, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley

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Africa News

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