9th January, 2012
Several jurisdictions have recently made decisions authorizing deportation, transfer or extradition of genocide suspects to Rwanda. On 27 October 2011, a decision by a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dismissed an application by Slyvere Ahorugeze against extradition to Rwanda on the ground that “he would not risk a flagrant denial of justice ». In November 2011, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR confirmed the transfer of Jean Bosco Uwinkindi to Rwandan courts. On 6 December 2011, the Canadian Immigration Service served Leon Mugesera with notification that he can be deported from Canada in accordance with a previous order of the Canadian Supreme Court. The United States has deported some individuals to Rwanda to face trial on genocide related charges. These recent decisions allowing transfer or extradition of suspects to Rwanda reverse a long established approach, set by decisions of a diverse range of courts of countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany and Switzerland that had previously refused extradition or expulsion of Rwandan suspects for security or fair trial concerns.
We understand the difficult dilemmas that the international community faces in handling Rwanda’s extradition requests for genocide suspects. States have an obligation to prosecute or extradite persons responsible for international crimes. No state should be a safe haven for perpetrators of genocide or other international crimes. Rwanda’s own, reconciliation, peace and long-term stability require accountability of persons responsible for atrocities without discrimination.
At the same time, however, governments and courts of law have an obligation to ensure that states to which to which they deport, transfer of extradite criminal suspects respect basic human rights principles in general, and guarantee respect of the right to a fair trial and provide protection from torture or ill-treatment in particular.
We recognize that each judicial decision is based strictly on the evidence adduced by the parties before the court. We have no reason to doubt that the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights and the Appeals Chamber ICTR have been made in good faith. Nevertheless, we strongly believe that the decisions are wrong, as they are based on extremely erroneous assessments of the human rights situation in Rwanda.
The Rwanda government is controlled by a clique of suspected war criminals that has turned Rwanda into a criminal state. Rwanda exhibits the outward manifestations of a democratic state, but is in reality a ruled by a dictatorship that does not respect the rule of law. The civilian institutions of the Rwandan state, including the judiciary, are in theory independent, but in practice subject to the absolute direction and control of the ruling party, the security services and the President of the Republic. As a result, Rwanda’s justice system cannot guarantee respect of the right to fair trial in accordance with international norms. Additionally, persons who are transferred or extradited to Rwanda face grave risks torture or ill-treatment.
We stress that we do not take a stand on the guilt or innocence of the persons whose cases we discuss in this statement or other Rwandese who are risk of being deported or extradited to Rwanda. The guilt or innocence of the persons concerned should be established by independent and impartial judicial institutions.
We reiterate our condemnation of the crime of genocide, and our unwavering support for accountability on those who are responsible for it and for other international crimes that were committed in Rwanda during the 1990s, including some of those run the current Government of Rwanda.
We believe, however, that even persons accused of genocide, the most heinous of crimes, deserve fair trial. The situation in Rwanda does not allow for fair trial of prominent genocide suspects, or opponents and critics of the current government.
On the basis of the grounds set out above, we call upon all governments to which the Government of Rwanda has addressed extradition requests:
(a) To stop all extraditions, deportations and transfers of Rwandan citizens to Rwanda;
(b) To arrange for the trial of Rwandans sought by the Government of Rwanda in their own countries or in other countries whose courts have universal jurisdiction for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;
(c) To commission independent assessments of the human rights practices in Rwanda and to review their immigration policies and procedures in accordance with the prevailing human rights situation.
(d) To exert pressure on the Government of Rwanda to stop torture and persecution of government critics and human rights defenders, and to organize an open, inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue on how the country can transition to democracy.
We trust that mechanisms of administrative and judicial review of recent decisions relating to the question as to whether Rwanda is able to guarantee respect of the right to fair trial and protection of citizens from torture and ill-treatment will provide opportunities to redress the harm done by the decisions discussed in this statement.
Dr Theogene Rudasingwa
Coordinator, Interim Committee
Rwanda National Congress (RNC)
Washington , D.C