Rwanda Classified: Vincent Duclert’s Support for Kagame Discredits His Previous Work on Rwanda

Vincent Duclert and Paul Kagame

Last week, Forbidden Stories, in collaboration with 17 media outlets, published a series of investigations titled “Rwanda Classified”. This remarkable journalistic endeavor involved more than 50 journalists from around the world, continuing the investigations of Rwandan journalist John Williams Ntwali, who was assassinated in Kigali in January 2023, in what Rwandan authorities described as a road accident.

Over 30 international researchers and writers, known for their support of Paul Kagame’s government, including the French historian Vincent Duclert, criticized the professionalism of the 50 journalists who published the “Rwanda Classified” series. These articles, which began to be released last week, accuse the Rwandan government of human rights violations, suppressing press and political freedoms, and deploying troops to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rwandan government denounced this campaign, stating that the journalists involved in the “Forbidden Stories” consortium aim to disrupt the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for July 2024 and to undermine national unity. The government asserted that their goals would not be achieved.

Vincent Duclert, historian, researcher, and former director of Cespra (EHESS-CNRS), along with numerous notable figures such as Joëlle Alazard, Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, Mehdi Ba, Annette Becker, Boubacar Boris Diop, and many others, published a lengthy statement in “Le Point” and “Jeune Afrique.” They claimed that the journalists of “Rwanda Classified” rushed to publish these stories without substantial evidence, labeling this as “laziness” and a deterioration of investigative journalism standards.

This statement sparked considerable criticism. Filip Reyntjens, Emeritus Professor of Law and Politics at the University of Antwerp, commented on his X account, highlighting that most international experts on Rwanda did not sign the statement. He noted that Paul Kagame continues to find apologists, particularly in France, and that the list of signatories was very revealing.

British journalist and author Michela Wrong stated: “It’s almost as if the signatories decided to present themselves to the public as ‘useful idiots’ on behalf of Rwanda. Why would any sensible person do this? This article is embarrassing. I believe you will regret publishing it. France’s shame over its history in Africa does not oblige it to support bloodthirsty dictators like Kagame today. It’s a shame you can’t understand that.”

Rwandan opposition figure Emmanuel Mwiseneza, living in France, reacted: “We knew of Boubacar Boris Diop’s pro-Kagame activism, but the surprise comes from Professor Vincent Duclert. Seeing the professor stoop to propaganda, copying reactions from Rwandan officials, adds suspicion to his famous report, whose biases and inaccuracies have been long discussed. This article shows he acts not as a scientist but as an engaged propagandist for Kagame’s regime.”

Jean-Luc Habyarimana, son of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyalimana, criticized Duclert, accusing him of being a pro-Kagame activist who disregards acknowledged political assassinations as “accidents.”

Norman Ishimwe, president of Jambo asbl, declared: “Vincent Duclert has completely discredited and delegitimized himself! He can no longer be considered an independent and legitimate voice on Rwanda.”

In 2019, Vincent Duclert led a French commission of historians tasked with analyzing France’s role in Rwanda between 1990-1994. The commission aimed to contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of the Rwandan genocide based on archival research. However, his recent actions have cast doubt on his impartiality and credibility, suggesting that his previous work may also be biased.