The Rwandese community of potters is known as the poorest and most vulnerable group of Rwanda. Because of their attachment to their history, their environment and their culture the potters are still suffering from numerous forms of injustice like the confiscation of their ancestral lands and other resources. For this community the challenge is to defeat these injustices and to preserve their specificities.
Since there is a disproportional high level of poverty and illiteracy in this community, the potter people are probably not able to pay the costs for legal services or to be informed about their rights or to have access to legal aid when it exists.
To improve this situation the Department of Human Rights which exists since 1995 pursues different strategies: On the one hand COPORWA pleads for the recognition of the specific vulnerability of the potter community and tries to rehabilitate the potters’ violated rights. On the other hand the Department of Human Rights reinforces the potters’ knowledge as regards their rights and at the same time strengthens their participation in decision making on a decentralized level. Besides, the sensitization of the potters about the importance to participate in these processes is an essential topic which is accompanied by supporting the potters’ candidatures in electoral campaigns.
In the past years 325 judicial cases have been solved and about 750 potters have been sensitized on human rights. In the past year (2010) 134 people in the Districts of Nyamasheke and Gicumbi recovered their land. All in all there are 350 potters who have recovered their land since the beginning of the Human Rights Program. In addition to this the Department of Human Rights has plead for the construction of houses for 50 potter families and has achieved that 60% of the potter community take part in mutual health insurances.