U.N. pulls human rights mission out of Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — The United Nations said Thursday it will pull its human rights mission out of Rwanda by the end of this month after failing to agree with the government on a new mandate.
Four days of talks ended when the sides could not agree on a formula for monitoring human rights abuses, something the United Nations considered key to the mission set up after a 1994 genocide left a half-million people dead.
The mission was the first of its kind. In the past, human rights monitoring always had been done by peacekeepers; this was the first civilian operation dedicated entirely to human rights. Originally, it had been touted as a model for monitoring ethnic disputes.
In May, the Rwandan government suspended the mandate of the mission, saying it placed too much emphasis on alleged reprisal killings by the army rather than on attacks by Hutu rebels.
The government said it wanted the mission to help set up national rights organizations and educate people about human rights. It also said the group was not giving officials adequate time to respond to its reports.
The government, which took power in July 1994 after a victory by Tutsi-led rebels stopped the Hutu government slaughter of more than 500,000 people, has been sensitive about its human rights record.
Many of the former Hutu government soldiers and militiamen responsible for carrying out the genocide of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were among the 1 million Hutu refugees who fled into exile. Many of them returned to Rwanda in November 1996.
Since then, thousands of people — Hutus and Tutsis — have died in rebel attacks on schools, bars, buses and homes.