Noel Zihabamwe has filed a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in relation to the enforced disappearance of his brothers in Rwanda.
In conjunction with Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute, Corrs is currently acting on a significant pro bono human rights matter for Mr Noel Zihabamwe in relation to the enforced disappearance of his two brothers – Mr Jean Nsengimana and Mr Antoine Zihabamwe – in Rwanda.
Mr Zihabamwe is an Australian Citizen who moved to Australia on a humanitarian visa in 2006. Since then, he has become a highly regarded human rights advocate and leader, working with new migrants, refugees and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in community development and advocacy. In 2016, Mr Zihabamwe was approached by agents of the Rwandan government in an effort to recruit him to become an agent of influence in Australia for the government. Upon his refusal, he was subject to ongoing harassment from the Rwandan government and its representatives.
In August 2019, Mr Zihabamwe shared the story of this harassment anonymously with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as part of a broader article on Rwandan informants operating in Australia. A month later, Mr Zihabamwe’s brothers were abducted by Rwandan police while on a bus in Nyagatare District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Mr Zihabamwe’s brothers have not been seen since the day of their disappearance, 28 September 2019.
Corrs’ 2020/2021 Sydney clerks assisted with Mr Zihabamwe’s matter, preparing a factual brief of Noel’s story and the political context in Rwanda, as well as identifying the applicable Australian and international legal frameworks under which this case can be pursued. The work undertaken by our clerks provided the foundation for the development of a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) that was filed in July 2021.
The complaint alleges that the enforced disappearances represent a clear violation of fundamental rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to liberty and security, the right to life and the right to be free from arbitrary detention, and calls on the WGEID to transmit the allegations to the Rwandan government to clarify the fate or whereabouts of Mr Zihabamwe’s brothers.
Corrs continues to act on the matter alongside Doughty Street Chambers and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute. More information can be found here.