By The Rwandan Lawyer
Last week on YouTube Mrs. Adeline RWIGARA was expressing her sorrow at the genocide survivors among whom her late husband RWIGARA Assinapol murdered by the RPF regime and regretted that the state was soon planning the genocide remembrance which she considers as a paradox exacerbating their suffering, a political propaganda game which only benefits to the criminal power.
on 07 April 2021, the 27th celebration time of genocide remembrance was an occasion for the Rwandan president to react against some politico- judicial situations which are prevailing in Rwanda.
1.The salient points of the speech
1)The immensity of what has been achieved is almost miraculous.
2)Like every country, Rwanda has the right to use all legitimate and lawful means to counter attacks on our people — no question about it —
3)Now, what is interesting again, is that… a couple of them are now serving sentences in those countries. They are prison for actually having done some of the things we told these people these criminals have been known for.
4)Among those who are undergoing trial, there are those who have been living outside, protected, one way or the other….he issue is not what they did which they are being tried for, the issue is how they got here. Fine. If they got here the wrong way, we can talk about that. There is no problem.
5)some of these people are out there in places where they have a lot of lessons for us, as to what is democracy, freedom, all kinds of political and civil rights. At the same time, they embrace these people, protect them, defend them, speak for them. Because, they are saying, these are people who want to civilize Rwanda and bring it closer to that level, where we are not.
6)Disgraced former officials, motivated by petty resentments, have spent years cultivating influential foreign gatekeepers with a flimsy campaign of lies
7)Do you remember the famous interview in the old days, in 1994, where people had problems naming what was happening at that time? Some people were struggling to call it ‘genocide
8)History was falsified by promoting the lie of the so-called double genocide, including with the Mapping Report. Fraudulent court cases were launched in Europe against our officers and officials. Genocide suspects were granted safe haven, and Rwanda’s extradition requests refused.
9)So when these genocide suspects are granted safe haven and extradition requests are refused, it has a direct consequence, and we have seen a massive increase in genocide denial and revisionism, which will take years to reverse.
10)When we were still young and going to primary school, I remember being told a story of the lion and the sheep.
2.Critical analysis of the legal and political implications of the speech
This speech tackled a series of issues which deserve to be commented in one way or another as following.
2.1.Aut dedere aut judicare: genocide or hostile political position?
in law, the principle of aut dedere aut judicare (Latin for “either extradite or prosecute“) refers to the legal obligation of states under public international law to prosecute persons who commit serious international crimes where no other state has requested extradition. However, the Lockerbie case demonstrated that the requirement to extradite or prosecute is not a rule of customary international law. The obligation arises regardless of the extraterritorial nature of the crime and regardless of the fact that the perpetrator and victim may be of alien nationality. It is generally included as part of international treaties dealing with an array of transnational crimes to facilitate bringing perpetrators to justice.
Seemingly making a reference to this rule of international criminal law, the president was regretting that countries which hosted the suspects of genocide are not extradited nor judged in their courts and complains about legal obstacles on eventual extradition notably the lack of bilateral treaty thereon.
the issue is that most often the state is just tracking people basing on the fact that they created or are adherent of opposition political parties or made declarations criticizing their bad governance. The crying illustration is the case of Dr MUNYAKAZI Laurent who was lecturing in Kigali Institute of Education and sought asylum to USA;when he expressed political opinions against the regime. an international warrant of arrest was addressed to the hosting country and extradited he is now prosecuted for genocide.
2.2.Genocide generally imputed to all Hutu
The president talked of people who are now serving sentences in foreign countries(US, Europe, etc) sentenced to prison for having committed genocide. He then made an analogy assimilating other opponents to them deploring that the same countries which jailed their fellows are simultaneously supporting them to fight the regime. In other words, all Hutu are just genocide and any political enterprise they may dare to plan is already a genocidal plan and must be automatically fought without any prior assessment.
Specifically, in his view the fact that RUSESABAGINA Paul was contesting the violations of human rights in Rwanda is downright qualified as genocide if not genocide denial basing on just his ethnic origins. The other tangible example is the case of Dr NIYITEGEKA Théoneste a medical doctor who run presidency in 2003 elections. During the gacaca sessions, quite all charging witnesses retracted and innocented him; caught off guard, the panel members of that controversial trial consulted the management of gacaca at the national level who ordered to sentence him without motivation to 15 years of imprisonment.
2.3.Remembrance as tool of ethnic divisions
while politically ethnics of Tutsi, Hutu and Twa were banned in favor of umunyarwanda(Rwandese) ,the 100 days of commemoration of genocide are marked by messages addressed to the public which reinvigorate the ethnic hatred so that Hutu people are scared, threatened, isolated and to prevent eventual arrest and prosecution for genocide denial they are compelled to retreat to their homes and not speak when they meet Tutsi outside because any word coming from them is undoubtedly a genocide ideology and attracts against him arrest and prison and why not the disappearance. With speeches pronounced during these days, extremism is visible and publicly expressed unrestrained. Before COVID-19 some people with financial means were travelling abroad to avoid traumatism and came back afterwards.
besides, this practice put aside all constitutional principles because names of ethnics are overtly revealed in a perfect impunity and this it makes the triumph of the winner’s justice on the vanquished given that invocation of Tutsi ethnic equals genocide denial and divisionism sentenced to more than 10 years of jail while the reversal is just a joke and a Hutu individual who dares complaining for that is badly is frowned on by the neighboring Tutsi and must leave the village if he wants to remain unscathed
2.4.Mapping report..lies..double genocide….issue of qualification of facts
l’arroseur arrosé in French ; the sprinkler becomes watered in a literal English ;na nyina w’undi abyara umuhungu in Kinyarwanda. The ancient regime is accused of having killed Tutsi and moderate Hutu and RPF regime succeeded to get the UN to qualify those crimes as genocide. On the other side, APR during battles assassinated thousands of Hutu facts which legally constitute war crimes and the Rwandan state succeeded again to prevent their prosecution before ICTR obtaining the exclusion of the Helvetic prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from this international court. Worse, during 1996-1998 years, the same RPA crossed the boards with DRC and merciless slaughtered Hutu refugees and Congolese attaining about 5-6 millions of victims. The mapping report is the product of the investigations about these killings and the author in chief of those massive crimes is disturbed fearing the prejudicial effect on diplomatic and why not judicial.
Four politico-legal issues can be raised. Primo, the regime fears that those facts should be qualified as genocide one day and then the base of their politics would be then undermined. Secundo,the international community is distinguishing killers and victims recognizing one side and putting aside the other one.Tertio,by fiercely fighting the qualification of double genocide the Rwandan regime fears to lose its legitimancy.Quarto,accusing the opposition politicians of lying to foreign states, the president is challenged by not probing what those superpowers think of him and his governance. The question thereon is who lies and who does not? Fortunately for him that about the pretended lies, Pierre Pean is dead but his works are still there…scripta manent.
The 100 days of commemoration are a burden for all Rwandans inside the country given that ethnic divisionism against Hutu is then a motto and for survivors do not earn nothing as their relatives who tempt to oppose the ruling power are daily killed in a sort of masquerade of suicide, poisoning, attempt to escape from police even if handcuffed.
Besides, these days ignore all those political ideologies of unity, reconciliation, Rwandan citizenship and all empty demagogies ignore all these ideas swung in the eyes of foreign countries. Were those diplomatic officials and superpowers aware of the dark side of the Rwandan power convinced by that this incendiary speech? let’s wait and see.