Reacting to the accusation that Kagame recruits and arms Burundian refugees in Rwanda, whom Kagame latwr deploys to destabilize Burundi, Kagame junta ordered that Burundian refugees must leave Rwanda ” with immediate effect” for a third country. This ” order” is illegal.
First, Kagame junta’s ” response” to the accusation is neither a solution to the problem nor a rational public policy option; it’s none responsive. In legal terms, Kagame is accused of serious crimes namely: aggression ( the international Criminal Court now has jurisdiction over the crime of aggression), recruiting children into armed forces and all the crimes Kagame’s armed group is commuting in Burundi – including terrorism. At issue is not whether or not Rwanda received Burundian refugees or whether Burundian refugees should be in Rwanda. At issue is that Kagame recruits and arms Burundian refugees, in Rwanda, and he deploys those armed people to destabilize Burundi.
Second, the international convention for the protection of refugees imposes an independent duty on Rwanda to receive refugees running away from ” trouble” in Rwanda’s neighboring countries, including Burundi.Kagame junta appears to think that receiving and protecting refugees from neighboring countries, as the country of first entry, is a favor to the refugees and/or the international community. Kagame junta is wrong. This is distinguishable from the current standoff on Syrian refugees trying to enter other countries of Europe and the US through Turkey and other neighboring countries. A third country which receives refugees has discretion to accept those refugees; the first country to which a person finds herself immediately after crossing his country’s border does not enjoy discretion on whether or not to receive and protect a refugee. Rwanda is not at liberty, under international law, to kick out Burundian refugees. The International Convention for the protection of refugees provides for ” resettlement” to a third country. However, the Convention provides for specific conditions for, and execution of, resettlement for refugees. Kagame junta decision amounts to illegal expulsion of refugees and ” resettlement ” of refugees to a third country.
Third, Kagame’s violation of the territorial integrity of Burundi has consequences. Burundi, by itself and/or with help from friendly nations, is entitled to preemptive strike and/or retaliation as provided for under the UN Charter.
Ideally, there no country should have issues that lead to instability that forces people to flee. However, when people flee their country, issues that touch and concern refugees may not be resolved by violating the international convention for the protection of refugees.
Dr Charles Kambanda