By The Rwandan Lawyer
Me Lurquin Vincent who was assisting Paul Rusesabagina before Belgian courts was deported on 20 august 2021 by Rwandan migration service due to allegedly abuse of tourist visa by exercising profession of lawyer before Rwandan courts. What is really hidden behind such mediatized decision against this western lawyer?
According to Rwandan Migration Service, Me Lurquin Vincent Belgian lawyer of Paul Rusesabagina,hero of hotel rwanda, had come to Rwanda on August 16, 2021 as a visitor and had received a tourist visa which expires in thirty days but surprisingly was found on August 20, 2021 in the company of Paul Rusesabagina’s lawyers wearing even the lawyer gown when he was not authorized by the bar of lawyers of Rwanda to practice as legal counsel on Rwandan territory. The Migration Service decided to declare him a prohibited immigrant and deport him because he appeared to have started working without a work permit while he had been granted a tourism visa for just visiting different attracting places of the country of a thousand hills and not to plead in courts and tribunals. The migration service had previously checked with the Rwandan bar to ensure that he had been authorized to work in Rwanda as a lawyer and the officials of the bar replied that he had indeed requested such a permit which had had been refused.
A meticulous assessment of reasons underlying the deportation of the Belgian attorney may push any analyst to think beyond the official statements.
-Reasons behind the deportation
People who come in Rwanda and last more than 30 days are numerous and they are not disturbed by the migration service so that when they decide to leave the country they go without any complications especially as Rwanda tend to attract foreigners almost when they are from Europe or America.
This relentlessness is obviously due to the fact that he had come for the case file of Rusesabagina Paul, which reached the step of pronouncement of the verdict scheduled on 20 September 2021.
On the other hand, following a press conference held in Belgium on the Rusesabagina Paul case in which Me Vincent Lurquin took part, the Rwandan authorities, informed of his position, did not appreciate him to such an extent that his deportation was the direct effect, a kind of punishment.
-The pretexts of the Rwandan Bar Association
According to article 7 of the law n°83/2013 of 11/09/2013 establishing the bar association in Rwanda and determining its organization and functioning Where their national legislation provides for reciprocity and subject to international agreements, Advocates from foreign Bar Associations shall be granted the right to practice if need be, provided they observe the regulations governing the Advocates’ profession in Rwanda. The President of the Bar Association shall have the power to grant such authorization.
Advocates from States which have concluded a regional integration agreement with Rwanda shall be allowed to practice in Rwanda as provided for in such regional integration agreement.The Rwanda Bar Association (RBA) refused the authorization to this lawyer on the pretext that the reciprocity agreement concluded with the bar of Brussels does not allow Rwandan lawyers to plead there and that consequently the Belgian lawyers could not represent or assist clients before Rwandan courts and tribunals.
On the other hand, according to Roger Rusesabagina, son of the hero of Hotel Rwanda, the Rwandan lawyers and prosecutors who left to carry out investigations in Belgium within the framework of the same Rusesabagina Paul case were not hampered by such a legal device.
Worse still, Mr. Vincent Lurquin was unable to meet the president of the Rwandan bar, Mr. Kavaruganda Julien, because the latter cut off all communications and only made himself available just after his departure.
The representative of the migration service declared that Me Lurquin was deported because he used the tourist visa for his activities as a lawyer because he was found in the court sitting next to Me Gatera Gashabana Vincent and on top of that wearing a gown of attorneys. In this regard, he explained that he should have requested a work permit from the Rwandan bar to be able to appear in Rwandan courts and tribunals.
On the other hand, the concerned argues that he had declared to the migration officers that he was coming to Rwanda to meet his client Paul Rusesabagina and that he could apply to the Rwandan President of the Bar to regularize the formalities relating to the legal assistance of his client and they granted him the visa for this purpose.
-The pro hac vice practice in favor of Me Lurquin
Pro hac vice, Latin: “for this occasion” or “for this event” (literally, “for this turn”), is a legal term usually referring to a practice in common law jurisdictions, whereby a lawyer who has not been admitted to practice in a certain jurisdiction is allowed to participate in a particular case in that jurisdiction. Although pro hac vice admission is available in every American jurisdiction, civil law jurisdictions generally have much stricter rules for multi-jurisdictional practice. The term is used by the Catholic Church as well.
The origins of the doctrine of admission pro hac vice have been traced as far back as 1629 in the English Court of Common Pleas. The doctrine appeared in America as early as 1735 in the New York trial of John Peter Zenger for libel, when the Philadelphia attorney Andrew Hamilton was permitted to appear on Zenger’s behalf. By 1876, the custom had become “general and uniform” in the United States.
In most jurisdictions, an attorney appearing pro hac vice must continue to associate with a locally licensed attorney (referred to as “local counsel”), though the degree to which the local counsel is required or expected to participate in the matter varies widely; some courts may require local counsel to sign documents and appear in court, while others may grant the pro hac vice counsel more independence.
In addition to the motion, the out-of-jurisdiction attorney is typically required to provide the court with a statement from his local bar association indicating that he or she is a member in good standing and also pay a small fee to the court or its local bar association. For example, there is a $25 annual fee in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York charges a $200 fee to file a motion for admission pro hac vice.
Many considerations are implied in the case file of Rusesabagina Paul apart from the court trying it. Why does migration get involved?
A lot of people do not use the tourist visa properly and the migration service does not carry out a meticulous follow-up as it occurred in the case of Me Lurquin Vincent .
This humiliation of deportation of a western jurist proves the extent of the Rusesabagina case for the Kigali regime. Besides, on its side, Belgium, of which the latter is a national, instead of shamefully bowing under intimidation of Rwanda, a state which is enough renowned for violations of fundamental rights of its citizens should act appropriately in the face of this political and legal relentlessness sui generis and therefore protect the rights of its citizen on all political, diplomatic, economic, legal angles. Let’s wait for the verdict!