His Excellency Mark Rutte
Brussels September 25, 2015
Please find attached the Memorandum on the visit of President Paul Kagame to the Netherlands.
We the undersigned political organisations, civil society organisations and human rights defenders are writing to you to express our grave concern about the visit of President Paul Kagame, President of the republic of Rwanda to The Netherlands, from 3rd to 6th October 2015. We strongly believe that a warm welcome to President Paul Kagame would be a mockery of the international justice system and would undermine the moral authority of The Netherlands in the world and the values it holds so dearly. He should be coming to The Hague to answer questions from the International Criminal Court and not to get a red carpet reception from the Dutch authorities.
We highly exalt the decision taken, in pursuance of the commitment to the rule of law, in the famous case of Mr Jorge Zorreguieta, barring him to come to Holland to attend the wedding of his daughter Maxima Zorreguieta. He served as the Minister of Agriculture during the military dictatorial regime of former Argentine President Videla, from 1976 to 1981 accused of grave atrocities against civilians.
In the case of President Paul Kagame, we request that the same rules be applied. Here we are faced with a case of the overall commander of an army accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and potentially crimes of genocide where more than 200,000 Hutus refugees were slaughtered. He is someone with a case against him pending at the International criminal court at The Hague. Furthermore, President Paul Kagame is leading a regime that was involved in a war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has claimed more than 6 million lives, the biggest loss in human lives since the 2nd world War.
Paul Kagame is also leading a totalitarian regime accused of gross violations of human rights including forced disappearances, torture, extra judicial killings in his country and abroad. Here is a President who calls publicly on his security agents to shoot people in broad day light and warns critics that he can get them eliminated where they are.
Contributing to the promotion of a leader of a repressive regime accused of gross violation of human rights undermines the moral authority and long-term Netherlands’ economic and political interests in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region. It is the very considered view of our organisations, that there is a moral and strategic imperative on the Dutch Government to help bring justice to all Rwandans and hence promote genuine national reconciliation to allow the dawning of a new era of peaceful change and sustainable development underpinned by democracy and the rule of law.
While we thank the Dutch Government for its support for the people of Rwanda, we request the government to avoid any form of welcome to their oppressor. The Dutch Justice system should help President Kagame introduce himself to the International Criminal Court at The Hague if he ever sets his foot in the Netherlands.
(Signatories in CC)