Informe sobre el país: Rwanda

Ultima revisión: 10 Sep 1998
10 Sep 1998

In 1994 a genocide took place in Rwanda, in which an estimated 850,000 people were killed. The genocide ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), invaded Rwanda and defeated the government forces (FAR). The RPA are now the official Rwandan armed forces. [5] [9]

1 Conscription

conscription does not exist

Rwanda has no conscription. [8]


The minimum legal recruitment age is 18. [8]

The armed forces, like the former RPA, are predominantly composed of members of the Tutsi-minority. Most of them have been recruited when in exile in a neighbouring country. Several thousands of them have been fighting with the National Resistance Army (NRA) in Uganda and deserted to join the RPF. When the RPF invaded Rwanda in 1990, more than half of them were deserters from the NRA bringing with them arms, equipment and supplies. [1] [2] [3] [5]

In the past the RPA has recruited children by force, as was reported before the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1992. [2]

It is believed that 2,500 soldiers from the FAR, the former government forces have been incorporated in the RPA. [4]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no known legal provision for conscientious objection.

3 Desertion


Desertion is punishable under the 18 August 1977 Penal Code (Decree-Law no. 21/77).

Desertion is punishable by two months' to two years' imprisonment in peacetime. In aggravated circumstances the penalty is three months' to three years' imprisonment. In wartime the maximum penalty is given. (arts. 482-483).

Desertion of officers is punishable by one to five years' imprisonment (art. 479).

Desertion of more than two individuals is considered conspiracy and punishable by three months' to three years' imprisonment in peacetime; two to five years in wartime. The penalty for a leader of a conspiracy is much higher (arts. 484-485).

Desertion in the presence of the enemy is punishable by 5 to 10 years' imprisonment; 10 to 15 years for officers (art. 486).

Desertion to the enemy is punishable by execution (art. 487).


No information available.

4 (Forced) recruitment by armed groups

Hutu rebels organised in the Rwandan Liberation Army (ALIR), fight a guerrilla war against what they call the 'Tutsi occupation' of Rwanda. They probably consist of former members of the armed forces who fled when the RPA invaded Rwanda. They were lead by the head of the former Presidential Guard, who was killed in battle in July 1998. [11]

5 History

In the early 1960s, when the government was taken over by Hutus, the era of communal violence began. Members of the Tutsi minority killed members of the Hutu group and vice versa. The violence has escalated ever since and thousands of Tutsis have fled to the neighbouring countries, particularly to Uganda. Together with some Hutu refugees they formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front and started a guerilla war in 1990 against the Rwandan government forces. [5]

In 1994 the communal violence escalated to a huge genocide, in which between 500,000 and one million Tutsi's and moderate Hutu's were killed by members of the armed forces and death squads. The genocide was sparked off on 6 April 1994 when President Habyarimana died as his airplane crashed. The airplane was apparently shot down, most likely by the Rwandan armed forces itself. It was known that for some months the government had been preparing for the genocide by drawing lists of Tutsis that were 'to be extinguished' and by propaganda to create fear of the Tutsis amongst the Hutu majority. Hutu extremists accused the RPF of the death of President Habyarimana and used the accusation to launch their planned slaughter of Hutu opponents and Tutsi. [3] [5] [10]

At the time of the genocide, the Rwandan armed forces consisted of the FAR, the Presidential Guard and two militias, the Interahamwe ('Those who attack together') and the Impuzamugambi ('Those with a single purpose'). According to one source military service in the FAR was compulsory and between 1990 and 1994 the FAR increased its size from 4,500 to 12,000. Yet, another source even reports the size to be 30,000. [4] [3]

The armed forces have been widely involved in the genocide. The main executors of the genocide have been the Interahamwe, militias consisting of unemployed young men recruited by the political party of President Habyarimana. Another militia, the Impuzamugambi, was set up by allies of Habyarimana. Both militias were trained by the Presidential Guard in groups of 300 in three-week training programs in military camps. Furthermore, between 1991 and 1993 the government handed out guns for free to citizens in border zones. The militia were armed with grenades. [4] [5]

The genocide ended when the RPA defeated the government forces. More than a million Hutus fled the country, amongst them some 6,000 members of the former government forces. [5] [9]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces comprise 62,000 troops - about 0.76 percent of the population. [9]


[1] News from Africa Watch 1992. Rwanda: Talking Peace and Waging war, human rights since the October 1990 invasion. Human Rights Watch, New York. [2] Woods, D.E. 1993. Child Soldiers, the recruitment of children into the armed forces and their participation in hostilities. Quaker Peace and Service, London, UK. [3] Vassall-Adams, G. 1994. Rwanda, an agenda for international action. Oxfam Publications, London, UK. [4] Federal Office for Refugees 1995. Country Information Sheet Rwanda, FOR, Bern, Switzerland. [5] Human Rights Watch 1995. Rwanda: Playing the "Communal Card" - Communal Violence and Human Rights. HRW, New York. [6] Rädda Barnen 1995. Rwanda. Case study for the Grace Machel Study. Rädda Barnen, Stockholm. [7] Brett, R. & M. McCallin 1996. Children, the invisible soldiers. Rädda Barnen, Stockholm, Sweden. [8] UN Commission on Human Rights 1997 The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva. [9] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK. [10] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 7 May 1998. [11] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 25 July 1998.