By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame may soon sing a different tune if the Global Magnitsky sanctions which the US government uses to punish regimes that abuse human rights are applied to Rwanda. The Lantos Foundation has filed a formal submission to the US government recommending Global Magnitsky sanctions against Rwandan officials for the extraordinary rendition of Paul Rusesabagina. Kagame’s fall from America’s darling to a pariah is unstoppable.
General Paul Kagame boasted about what he termed the flawless operation that lured Paul Rusesabagina to Rwanda. Then, Kagame’s justice minister Johnston Busingye announced to the world that the Rwandan government had paid for the plane that transported Rusesabagina from Dubai to Kigali without Rusesabagina’ knowledge. This, of course, is illegal. It is on these grounds that the Lantos Foundation filled for the Global Magnitsky Sanctions against the officials of the Kagame regime. As the Foundation’s President, Katrina Lantos Swett, explained, “for too long, the appalling actions of the Rwandan government under the leadership of Paul Kagame have gone without consequence.” She added that “a strong response by the United States is fully warranted and anything less would only embolden the Rwandan government to continue its abuse.”
The Lantos Foundation further argues that Rusesabagina’s kidnapping is a clear violation of the United Nations’ International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Foundation’s submission was simultaneously transmitted to officials in the United Kingdom and the European Union for consideration of their own respective sanctions.
General Kagame has met his match. The Lantos Foundation has moral authority to advocate for Rusesabagina. The Foundation was created to sustain the legacy of Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the US Congress and a leading human rights champion. The Foundation works with other influential partners and often in cooperation with the US Government on human rights issues around the world. General Paul Kagame is in an unusual territory – his American allies will not protect him from due process this time around. Kagame’s fall from being America’s darling to a pariah is unstoppable. Stay tuned.