This morning I am ashamed to be an adherent of the Conservative party. How can this great party have so taken leave of its collective senses that it has chosen to invite to address it a man who is, by many accounts, as steeped in blood as any of the worst dictators of Africa?

I write of one Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, who, as a result of the disastrous visit of Conservative Leader David Cameron to Rwanda over the summer, was invited to address the party Conference this autumn.

On three counts this man is not a fit and proper person with whom the Conservative party ought to associate itself for he is associated with a string of bloody crimes in his own country and in one of his neighbours.

The first two of these concern the events of 1994 in Rwanda which saw the outbreak of the worst act of genocide since 1945 and the subsequent war in which Paul Kagame swept to power in the country as Vice-President in the government of President Pasteur Bizimungu, a man he was to depose in 2000 without going through the usual democratic norms of having an election. Since then it is true that there have been ‘elections’ in Rwanda: Mr. Kagame got 95.1% of the vote on a turnout of 96.6% of the electorate, which tells you all that you need to know about Kagame’s adherence to the concept of ‘free & fair elections’ and the concept of ‘good governance’. Given that 84% of the population, which is Hutu, hates his guts, this ‘landslide’ victory was a remarkable achievement. Doubtless he will give advice today to the Conservative Party on how to win elections.

The flame of the 1994 genocide was lit on 6th. April 1994 when the private jet of Rwanda’s Hutu President Juvenal Habayarimana was shot down by a surface-to-air missile as it approached Kigali Airport outside the capital of Rwanda, killing Habayarimana and his counterpart in Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu. What followed was, as I have described it, the worst act of genocide since 1945 in which many hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, who form the minority in Rwanda, were massacred by Hutu extremists.

It is this incendiary incident which ought in the first place to concern the Conservative Party. Although it is right to say that the circumstances of the shooting down of the two Presidents have long been surrounded in controversy and many theories have been advanced as to who it was who carried it out, there has only been one enquiry into it which has come to anything like fruition.

That is the enquiry conducted by Jean-Louis Bruguière, Vice-President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, whose report into the matter was published in 2006, the nexus with France being that the crew of the President’s private jet were French. As a result of that report Paul Kagame and several other prominent adherents of his were indicted for the murder of those on board the jet. The motive ascribed to the act is that Kagame and others intended to provoke the Hutu majority into attacking the Tutsi minority so that Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front could legitimately itself start fighting in order to gain power in Rwanda.

The Bruguière enquiry has been attacked as being more to do with France trying to deflect attention away from its own rôle in the genocide than the truth. That is as may be, but who are we to gainsay the legal processes of a friendly foreign power and ally?

Although as Head of State he may not be extradited to France in respect of these matters, the fact of the matter is that a power with which the United Kingdom is allied through both NATO and the European Union has charged him with grave crimes of the most heinous sort and will try him if he ever becomes available once he loses his Sovereign immunity. Put the boot on the other foot for a moment: suppose that Andre Lugovoy, wanted for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian journalist murdered in London in 2006, became President of Russia and was invited to Paris for a State visit. The British press and the British public would be justifiably outraged by France’s disgraceful conduct and the noise of denunciation would be deafening. Why should it be any different in this case?

The second matter concerning the events of 1994 revolves around Paul Kagame’s rôle as commander of the military forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front( RPF). As such he commanded those forces throughout the military campaign which led to the overthrow of the majority Hutu government that was in office during the period of the genocide and the installation of Pasteur Bizimungu as President and the takeover of Rwanda by the 15 % Tutsi minority once more.

Throughout 1994, whilst the war was going on and throughout the rest of that year, the forces of the RPF committed crimes against humanity within the ambit of Article 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (see here for text), were guilty of violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II justiciable under Article 4 of the ICTR Statute. In addition the activities of Kagame’s RPF primâ facie fall within the definition of genocide according to the jurisprudence of the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

That this was so was made clear from the very beginning with reports made to the United Nations in anticipation of the establishment of the ICTR. Those were the reports S/1994/879 and S/1994/906 of the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General, the report S/1994/1157, annex I and annex II , of the Special Rapporteur for Rwanda of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the preliminary report S/1994/1125 of the impartial Commission of Experts.

The Commission of Experts concluded in its preliminary and final reports that:

” individuals from both sides to the armed conflict in Rwanda during the period from 6 April 1994 to 15 July 1994 perpetrated serious breaches of international humanitarian law, in particular of obligations set forth in Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions and relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts of 8 June 1977 ”

The Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights identified inter alia “RPF organs, particularly those in charge of military operations”, now ruling Rwanda, as the perpetrators of such crimes.

Dr. Phillip Reyntjens of the University of Antwerp, an acknowledged expert on the Rwandan conflicts of the 1990s and beyond, long ago provided the Prosecutor of the ICTR with abundant credible evidence that would more than pass the test for the foundation of a primâ facie case leading to Indictment by the ICTR of Paul Kagame and other leaders of the RPF. Professor Reyntjens was, in the early days of the Tribunal, retained as a potential expert Prosecution witness. But after he started to make noises about the failure to indict Kagame and others, he was dispensed with.

The principal basis for such an Indictment against Kagame is twofold:

(a) The commission by RPF units of widespread and systematic acts of murder, extermination, imprisonment, torture, rape and persecution on political or religious grounds. That such acts, many of them involving the murder of thousands or hundreds of Hutus, took place is not seriously disputed, save by devout adherents of Kagame and his RPF;

(b) The fact of his position as a commander of the armed forces of the RPF.

Whilst it may be that he personally ordered and commanded troops who carried out crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICTR, it is as a commander that his principal liability to prosecution arises. This is so because of Article 6 (3) of the ICTR Statute:

The fact that any of the acts referred to in Articles 2 to 4 of the present Statute was committed by a subordinate does not relieve his or her superior of criminal responsibility if he or she knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof.

This is an explicit rendering of the concept of “command responsibility” which goes back to the jurisprudence established by the Nuremburg Tribunals in the late 1940s. In essence the law lays a duty on those in command or having superior authority (which can be civilian authority) to take all reasonable steps to ensure that, within their sphere of command or authority, no crimes against humanity, war crimes (serious violations of the laws and customs of war) or violations of Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II thereto take place and if such crimes or violations do take place, that all reasonable steps are taken to investigate such crimes, to identify the perpetrators thereof and to prosecute and punish them for the same.

The duty is an extensive one, as Field Marshal Ritter Wilhelm von Leeb was to find out in The High Command Trial , where he was convicted for offences committed by troops under his command in Russia when he was commander of Army Group North of the German Wehrmacht in 1941-42. Although he was far from the scene of crimes which were committed, he was convicted on the basis of his failure to prevent or punish such crimes.

The evidence which is in the possession of the Prosecutor concerning Kagame, not just from Reyntjens but from a variety of other credible sources as well, clearly establishes a case which, if the Prosecutor was to do his job properly, would fall squarely within the Prosecutor’s duties as set out in Article 17 of the ICTR Statute, to wit:

17 (1) The Prosecutor shall initiate investigations ex-officio or on the basis of information obtained from any source, particularly from governments, United Nations organs, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The Prosecutor shall assess the information received or obtained and decide whether there is sufficient basis to proceed.

…..

17 (4) Upon a determination that a primâ facie case exists, the Prosecutor shall prepare an indictment containing a concise statement of the facts and the crime or crimes with which the accused is charged under the Statute. The indictment shall be transmitted to a judge of the Trial Chamber.

To date, no indictment has been issued. You might ask, if that is so, is that not an indication that no such case exists against Kagame? It is a fair question the answer to which lies in the murky world of international politics and diplomacy. For Kagame is trying to extend the suzerainty of Rwanda over a huge area of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wherein there are thought to be huge reserves of oil, large economically viable deposits of precious gems and huge quantities of minerals. The United States and the United Kingdom have determined to try and wrench Rwanda away from its traditional adherence to the Francophone world in general and France in particular and to curry favour with Kagame as a result.

For a long time, therefore, pressure has been brought on successive Prosecutors to drop any idea of prosecuting Paul Kagame, notwithstanding the egregious nature of his alleged crimes (for which he could expect a life sentence if convicted).

This is a sample of what has been taking place:

AN AUSTRALIAN former UN war crimes investigator has revealed documents exposing a UN cover-up of its inquiry into the events that triggered the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Adelaide lawyer Michael Hourigan says the UN shut down his investigation in 1997 into the shooting down of a plane carrying the extremist Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and the president of Burundi.

The investigation implicated ethnic Tutsi rebel leader Paul Kagame, who is now the President of Rwanda. The 100-day genocide, in which Hutu extremists murdered Tutsis and moderate Hutus, began hours after the plane was shot down.

Late last year, President Kagame was publicly blamed for the crash by French anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Brugiere.

A never-before released memo reveals that Mr Hourigan’s team of UN investigators had received detailed information from three well-placed sources about the plane attack. The sources all implicated Mr Kagame and offered to provide further information, including documentation.

Mr Hourigan wrote the memo in early 1997 for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s senior judge, Louise Arbour.

Mr Hourigan told The Age that after he gave Ms Arbour the memo, she told him to end his investigation.

“She was aggressive and negative. She had done a 180-degree turn. She effectively told me that my inquiry was at an end,” he said.

Late last year, Mr Hourigan prepared an affidavit for the tribunal. “I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere pressured judge Arbour to end (Hourigan’s team’s investigations) into the shooting down of president Habyarimana,” it says in part

Mr Hourigan said the informants told him a “foreign power” was linked to the attack.

The exposure of Mr Hourigan’s memo and affidavit, along with Mr Brugiere’s findings, places fresh pressure on the UN to explain why it stopped its investigation.

A spokesperson for Ms Arbour, who is now the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, did not respond to questions sent by The Age.

The UN has released few details about Mr Hourigan’s investigation, although some UN officials have said it was outside the UN’s mandate.

But Mr Hourigan’s affidavit says Ms Arbour and other senior UN figures had initially supported the investigation. “It was made clear to me that our investigations into the rocket attack upon the president’s aircraft was an act of international terrorism which clearly fell within the (tribunal’s) statute.”

Mr Hourigan’s memo to Ms Arbour describes, but does not name, the three sources who approached the investigators. It says they revealed the existence of a covert attack unit, called the “network”, which was under the control of Mr Kagame.

In 1994 he was the leader of Tutsi rebel force that invaded Rwanda and ended the genocide.

The memo says the sources claim the covert unit “was advised to put in place a contingency plan to eliminate president Habyarimana on or about 15 Mar 94 …”

The sources say the network under the command of then General Kagame planned and executed the rocket attack on the presidential plane.

Mr Hourigan, who quit the tribunal following the meeting with Ms Arbour, said he did not know where the sources were or whether they were still alive.

When Mr Brugiere released the findings of his inquiry last November, Mr Kagame dismissed them as “politically motivated”. France supported the Hutu government at the time of the genocide.

Mr Kagame cannot be prosecuted by the French because he is a head of state. Only the tribunal can prosecute him.

[Source: The Age and also see the additional documents linked to this report]

See also HERE and HERE.

Further evidence of US interference with the course of justice is this report by the Fondation Hirondelle:

THE ICTR PROSECUTOR SURPRISED BY HARTMANN’S REVELATIONS

Arusha, 27 September 2007 (FH) – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is unaware of possible negotiations on the abandonment of the prosecution against the RPF (former armed rebellion currently in power in Kigali) affirmed Thursday his spokesperson, questioned during a press conference in Arusha.

In a book recently published, Florence Hartmann, former spokesperson for Carle del Ponte, prosecutor of the ICTR until 2003, tells how in the spring of 2003 the United States pressured it to not take action on the investigations opened into the possible war crimes committed by the RPF.

“The prosecutor was surprised by the things that are mentioned in the book because he has no knowledge at all of those discussions or deal” affirmed Timothy Gallimore. According to him, “that is not something that he knows about or he was a part of “.

For the past two years, Hassan Jallow, the ICTR prosecutor and successor to Mrs. Del Ponte, stated that he is studying the results of these investigations which targets the RPF and that he will decide on prosecuting or not on one or more indictments.


To be fair to Carla del Ponte, who was removed as Prosecutor of the ICTR in 2003 (though she remains, pending taking up an Ambassadorial post in Argentine) Prosecutor of the ICTY, she was believed to be very keen to prosecute Kagame and the RPF and her removal as Prosecutor had everything to do with that enthusiasm.


Thus we strongly suspect that dirty deeds are being done at the crossroads, in the hope that Kagame, in return for being protected from prosecution by the US and the UK, will, in the event of discoveries of oil and mineral riches in areas within his control will allow US and UK companies to be the ones to exploit them.


There is also the slight problem that, if the ICTR did indict Kagame, that would almost certainly end the operations of the ICTR since it depends entirely on the cooperation of the Rwandan Government for its continued effective functioning (in the sense of hosting the prosecution’s investigative teams and allowing them to function in Rwanda and in the production of witnesses for the Tribunal’s trials, almost all of whom live in Rwanda under RPF control).


Thus Kagame is, on the face of it, up to his elbows in the blood of those murdered by troops and militias under his command and control. Is he the sort of person we want at the Conservative Party Conference?


There is a third element to this man’s alleged criminality.


Since 1994 Kagame has, for two reasons, one of which, concerning oil and minerals we have noted above, sent his Army into eastern DRC. In that area there are extensive refugee camps containing huge numbers of Hutu refugees. Into these areas Kagame regularly sends the Rwandan Patriotic Army to conduct a series of opérations de ratissage in which the RPA seeks to exterminate any last remaining flicker of resistance from the Hutu Interahamwe militias that contested the 1994 war with his RPF. While they are at it the RPF also conducts operations against citizens of the DRC, especially if they are of Hutu extraction, but in order to clear the area of a population which might stand in the way of any seizure of the oil and mineral resources which exist in eastern DRC. In conducting these operations, the RPA does not trouble itself with such trifles as the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity but routinely carries out mass killings of not just men but women and children at all. These units come under the superior authority of Paul Kagame and he is under a duty to prevent or to punish such crimes. He does no such thing.


This man has been the guest of Tony Blair and, it is said, will again meet the UK’s Prime Minister during his present visit. This is extraordinary given his involvement in the death of many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Rwanda and DRC. We would not invite Robert Mugabe to a Party Conference. Whatever the temptations of oil and mineral wealth are, nor should we countenance inviting Kagame to a Conservative Party Conference, this year or any year.


I recognise that in this world we sometimes have to deal with people who have blood on their hands. There is a long history of our so doing: Milosevic, Kenyatta, Menachem Begin, Gerry Adams come to mind. It may, in cases such as that of Milosevic, be necessary because without it no progress towards peace and the end of conflicts can be made, But in the case of Kagame, I beg to suggest, no such considerations exist and he should not be our guest, honoured and feted by the party as some sort of hero.


I watched Kagame’s lionisation by the party which I have supported for nearly forty years with shame and utter distaste. I watched Hague invoke the cases of Burma and Mugabe and call for African Leaders to play their part in bringing peace and prosperity and the promotion of human rights to Africa without a hint of irony with amazement at the breathtaking hypocrisy of it all. This was an appalling invitation which has brought disgrace and dishonour upon us.


We are not the only ones. This is a speech by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt in 2004 upon a visit by Kagame:

Mr President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We already had the opportunity to meet on several occasions, but today it is an honour and a pleasure for me to welcome you on your first official visit to Belgium. It is now almost 90 years since the paths of Belgium and Rwanda first crossed ‘ an encounter that has not always been without difficulties. Throughout the colonial and post-colonial era, relations between our two countries have sometimes been tense but the bond between us has held fast through good times and bad. This visit shows our dedication and common goal to further develop and strengthen the ties between our nations.

We are all very much aware of the fact that this visit is taking place on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the 1994 genocide. Four years ago, in April 2000 in Kigali, I was given the opportunity to participate in the commemoration of the genocide. Next month, I shall be returning to Kigali with the Belgian ministers for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation not only to remember those who perished, but also to reflect on the future.

Mr. President,

By electing you to this high office, the Rwandan people have entrusted you with the responsibility of defending and respecting the values of democracy, pluralism, and human rights. Be assured of Belgium’s commitment to support you in this challenging task. For full democracy and freedom of expression are the true guarantees of sustainable reconciliation.

We are very pleased that the reconciliation process in Rwanda over the past year has been accompanied by equally encouraging developments in its neighbours Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past ten years, these countries have also been engulfed in a spiral of violence which, has unsettled the entire region and which has resulted in several more million victims. Given Belgium’s historic links with these three countries, my government has spared no effort in lending its continuous support to the peace process throughout the region. It is my strong belief that today central Africa is on the right track. We encourage you to push ahead and to strengthen Rwanda’s ties with its neighbours. The current drive for peace must be fostered and made to flourish. Only regional integration can prevent renewed conflict and Belgium is prepared to fully support you in this approach.

We cannot deny that reconstruction and reconciliation in Rwanda, but also in Burundi and the DRC will require continued efforts and perseverance of its leaders. Such process demands time and determination. I am thinking here not only of socio-economic developments but also of strengthening the rule of law, ensuring justice with respect to war crimes, as well as demobilisation of the military and the construction or, indeed, reconstruction of civil society, the education system and healthcare. These are also the sectors where Belgian development cooperation can help and make its expertise available.

Central Africa is a top priority of Belgium’s foreign policy and we are proud of it. We put this policy into practice through bilateral state-to-state aid, multilateral aid, and through our support of a variety of non-governmental initiatives. Belgium is also playing a pioneering role in defending central African interests in international organisations, particularly within the European Union. For no one should be indifferent to the reconstruction of Rwanda and of central Africa as a whole, which demands that we pool all our efforts and capabilities.

In line with this conviction, my government has opted firmly for substantially greater financial contributions to assist Belgium’s three key bilateral partners in central Africa in terms of international cooperation. Our focus is threefold: (i) supporting the peace and reconciliation processes, (ii) strengthening the rule of law, and (iii) helping the most vulnerable sections of the population to overcome poverty. But we recognize that such development policy cannot be imposed from outside but must be borne by the Rwandan people themselves as they remain the master of their own fate.

Mr President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Throughout the region, the prospects for peace and reconciliation are better now than at any point in the past ten years. The international community is ready to support and consolidate all developments that will help drive this process forward. Now, more than ever before, Rwanda should take this opportunity, build its future, develop prosperity and safeguard stability. Rwanda can count on Belgium to achieve these goals. Rwanda remains one of Belgium’s key partners. It can count on our support and our solidarity in a spirit of dialogue and transparency.

And on that note, may I ask you all to raise your glasses to President Kagame, in a toast to peace and security for Rwanda and to friendship and cooperation between our countries.

Thank you.

When it was first mooted that Kagame would be invited I wrote to Mr. Hague cautioning him concerning this man and directing him to Professor Reyntjens as a source of chapter and verse about Kagame. I also posted on ConservativeHome expressing the wish that he not be invited.

I regret to say that the email went unanswered. I mind not the Post being ignored but in matters of correspondence of this kind I am rather old-fashioned. Not to reply to a serious email of this kind was simply rude. It is a matter of regret that Mr. Hague should have to add to the charge of hypocrisy that of discourtesy as well.

If you want some evidence that the Conservative Party knows only too well that this invitation was one of which to be ashamed, look at the published agenda for today.

Bear in mind that a Head of State was due to speak at this event, yet there is no mention whatsoever of his visit to the Party Conference. Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger have all had their moment: why hide Kagame’s light under a bushel if he is a fit and proper person to address the Conference?

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