The Duclert report commissioned by the French Government to investigate France’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is a fraud. On the one hand, the report documents France’s widespread role in the genocide by financially and militarily sustaining Rwanda’s genocidal regime. But on the other hand, the report denies that France was an accomplice in the genocide, claiming that France was “blind” to the massacres in Rwanda. This is outrageous. By aiding and abetting genocide crimes in Rwanda, France was an enthusiastic accomplice. Shamelessly, Rwandan head of state General Paul Kagame uncritically accepted the whitewashing report, confirming that he does not give a damn about the delivery of justice.
The Duclert report commissioned by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to investigate that country’s involvement in the Genocide against the Tutsi was published on March 26, 2021. Based on two years of investigation under the leadership of Vincent Duclert, the report provides vast details that demonstrate France’s support of then Rwandan regime that slaughtered between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu in 1994. Despite France’s deep involvement, however, the report concludes that France was not an accomplice in the genocide. The uncritical acceptance of the dubious report by Rwandan head of state, General Paul Kagame, is driven by opportunism.
The vast evidence of France’s support to the genocidal regime in Rwanda presented in the Duclert report
The evidence of France’s involvement in the genocide cited in the report includes the following:
- France’s President François Mitterrand was a close friend of the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana. The two men met no less than five times between 1990 and 1993. Their exchanges reflected “their privileged relations” that included numerous personal letters sent directly or transmitted by a third party. Mitterrand disregarded the warnings of his government of the pending disaster because of his attachment to Habyarimana.
- France accepted Habyarimana’s characterization of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) as the party of foreigners. This justified supporting the Rwanda regime against the RPF, depicting them external aggressors. This resulted in France’s delivery of large quantities of arms and ammunition to the Habyarimana regime. Equally important was France’s training of the Rwandan military.
- France turned a blind to the regime that encouraged ethnic massacres even long before the genocide, opting to ignore the preparations for genocide by the most radical elements of the regime.
- When France launched its Operation Turquoise purportedly for saving lives, the lives saved did not include the vast majority of the Tutsi who were exterminated in the first weeks of the genocide. Operation Turquoise instead provided the escape route to the perpetrators of the genocide.
The report’s denial of France’s complicity in the genocide is outrageous
Despite the vast evidence cited in the report to demonstrate France’s deep involvement in the Rwandan genocide, the authors insist that France was not an accomplice to the crime. Put another way, the authors’ conclusion is the opposite of what their evidence establishes.
France’s role in the Rwandan genocide amply demonstrated in the report is a classic case of complicity which is the act of assisting to commit a crime. Even when an accomplice does not commit the crime per se, his or her actions help the perpetrator in the commission of the crime. The key consideration is whether France assisted in the commission of the genocide crimes in Rwanda, or failed to prevent it. The evidence shown in the Duclert Report leaves no doubt that France assisted the Rwandan genocidal regime to murder thousands upon thousands of the Tutsi and moderate Hutu. It is illogical to assert that France was “blind” to what was taking place in Rwanda. As Martin Ngoga, the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly and former Rwandan chief prosecutor explains, the authors of the report “crafted an ambiguous term ‘blind” to evade ‘the criminal intent’ element of the crime but then it renders connection to the facts in the report illogical.”
Kagame’s uncritical acceptance of the dubious report is driven by opportunism
On April 9, 2021, General Paul Kagame received in his office French historian, Vincent Duclert, the lead author of the Duclert Report. To Kagame, this a public relations photo opportunity for showing that he has a new powerful patron in the west. Kagame is an opportunist looking for new friends among powerful global influencers. Kagame has been courting France in recent years, as his supporters in the US and the UK increasingly sidelined him. It is in this context that the world organisation of French-speaking nations, La Francophonie, elected Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo as its new head despite Rwanda’s shift to English a decade earlier and Rwanda’s horrendous record of human rights abuses. Kagame has traded the Rwandan genocide for a short personal political gain of President Macron’s support.
France’s acknowledgement of its complicity in the genocide is the only way to close the ugly chapter of its role
Any sober Rwandan would not accept the Duclert Report. The people of Rwanda need two things to put to rest France’s role in the Rwandan genocide. First, we need an acknowledgement of complicity by France via an apology to the Rwandan people. Second, the key French leaders who made the decisions that sustained the genocidal regime in 1990-1994 should be censured for assisting and abetting the crimes of genocide in Rwanda. The same reason why after two decades France still refuses to acknowledge its role in the Rwandan genocide will in future prevent France from doing so. By acknowledging complicity, France would under international law be liable to pay reparations to victims.