The notion of collateral victims according to Rwandan authorities

By The Rwandan Lawyer


A genocide would have taken place in the heart of the Congolese equatorial forest, hundreds of thousands of men and women would have been massacred with indifference “. In reality, the real issue is to discredit the United Nations report documenting the unpunished mass crimes of which the Congo has been the tragic theater. For the Kagame position, the Mapping report is bias and if there are Congolese who died they are just collateral victims of the war against Hutu genocidaires who were destabilizing the region. Is it thinkable that 6 million of DRC citizens are collateral victims when the Rwandan army was chasing only 300 thousands of Hutus who refused to return home after the destruction of refugee’s camps in 1996? The present article strives to legally discuss the issue.


MONUSCO reaffirms that “the Mapping report speaks for itself and very clearly documents serious human rights violations from 1993 to 2003.” Responding to a question from a journalist on the remarks made in Paris by the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, MONUSCO spokesman Mathias Gillmann, said on Wednesday May 19 that these serious violations had continued and even continue to be committed. in the DRC.

“The Mapping report documents very clearly serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law over the period it covered, that is to say, from 1993 to 2003. So, for us, this report speaks for itself. We have worked here with the Congolese authorities to document all these violations, ”said the spokesperson for the UN mission.

According to Matthias Gillmann, it is the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office that documents and shares all this information with the Congolese authorities. And just like the Mapping report was also handed over to the then Congolese government.

Before starting his journey, the investigative journalist prepares his investigation in the company of the senior Rwandan officer who led the AFDL / APR military operations aimed at dismantling the camps and tracking down Hutu refugees across Zaire. , and who is therefore one of the alleged perpetrators of the mass crimes committed during this “crossing”. Its “investigation” continues with “witnesses” met in 4-5 localities. Among them, only seven speak vaguely to him about the massacres, as none of them witnessed the events firsthand. From these few “testimonies” and an alleged absence of traces, he disqualifies the Mapping report. Unable to deny the atrocities, he presents them as regrettable consequences of the vagaries of war or of the collateral damage of the fighting.

He even tries to make it appear that the Mapping report itself concludes that there was no clear intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group. In fact, the report very cautiously makes only one hypothesis: “The question of genocide against the Hutus remains unresolved to this day. It can only be decided by a judicial decision based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. “

As you will have understood, we cannot equate La Traversée with the Mapping project report. On the one hand, a few conversations with 4-5 expatriates and a dozen Congolese. No direct witness, no Rwandan refugee met and questioned. No questions about the very many mass graves that could contain evidence of mass crimes. On the other hand, the work of a team of 33 Congolese and international experts who examined more than 1,500 documents and obtained information from 1,280 witnesses in order to corroborate or refute the violations listed.


From ignominious crimes committed against the Hutu refugees and citizens of DRC and the position of people suspected to have perpetrated those murders, gender based violence, thefts of minerals and other criminality, the debate risks to be endless.

1)Why this attempt to denigrate the Mapping report?

The Mapping report is a sword of Damocles on the heads of the leaders of the countries implicated in the mass crimes perpetrated in Congo-Zaire and it entails for those most responsible for these atrocities obvious risks of questioning. The first is to have to appear in court one day and be prosecuted for war crimes or, worse yet, possible crimes of genocide against the Hutu ethnic group.

The second great risk is that, if it is established that mass crimes were committed in the Congo in 1996-1997, some come to wonder whether the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a political organization to which the RPA belongs, has not previously committed the same kind of crimes in Rwanda. All the “dissenting voices”, who unambiguously recognize and condemn the genocide against the Tutsis but who, for the sake of objectivity, dare to speak of these “other” crimes, are often qualified as “revisionists”. or even “deniers”, with the obvious aim of discrediting or silencing them.

The third risk is that the end of this blindness, voluntary for some, involuntary for others, on these mass crimes does not lead to a radical questioning of the official historical narrative, propagated for 25 years, which presents Paul Kagame and his armed movement like the “saviors who put an end to the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda and the liberators who drove Mobutu from power”. This narrative is widely accredited around the world, disseminated by most of the media, and received as the gospel word by much of the public.

Paradoxically, and fortunately, La Traversée is likely to produce the opposite effect to that sought. Critical journalists and readers may well be drawn to this Mapping report and discover for themselves the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2)An accused pleading not guilty

In an interview with RFI and France 24 the day before, Paul Kagame said “there were no crimes. Absolutely not. It is the double genocide theory that is at work. “

Still reacting to these comments, Jean-Marc Kabund, first vice-president of the National Assembly writes on his twitter account:

“The denialist posture of the Rwandan PR vis-à-vis the crimes committed in the DRC is an attitude of an accused pleading not guilty. The essential thing for us is institution on the basis of the Mapping report, of an International Criminal Court for the DRC so that the authors whoever they are and wherever they are to answer. “

The Mapping report, published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2010, lists in chronological order and by province 617 “incidents”, war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible crimes of genocide committed between 1993 and 2003. This period covers the two wars in the DRC, which involved up to nine foreign armies, including Rwandan troops.


It is illogical that to capture about 300 thousands of Hutu refugees who refused to go back home during the bombing of refugees camps in 1996, you kill more than six millions of Congolese and ironically if not cynically you qualify this massive pogroms as collateral victims! The Mapping report is accused of being bias, partial and influenced as if people who lost their parents and relatives are not there. Understandably, those who reject the UN report are pushed by the reason that their role in the crimes is evidenced and fiercely fight it to eventually escape from judicial prosecutions. DRC authorities have to play their diplomacy to finally get form the UNSC the institution of a criminal court for DRC.