The UN’s Rwanda Tribunal : an exercise in partial justice
and well-lubricated gravy train?

The Rwandan Parliament has come up with a novel variation on the wheeze which is deployed by some black people, invariably those on the left of politics, whereby, if assailed for some impropriety or venality, the immediate cry is raised: “This is racism!”. The Rwandan version is to accuse assailants of ‘denying a genocide which has been recognized by the UN’.

The wheeze has recently been deployed in defence of Ken Livingstone’s chum Lee Jasper who, having been caught beyond a peradventure in breach of the rules, has finally been off-loaded by the world’s best known reptile. The Israeli version is not unlike the Rwandan one. Their means of defence is to brandish the word ‘Holocaust’ whenever anyone has the temerity to criticize them, even legitimately (much criticism of Israel tends to be of the spurious kind), and to wallow in their perpetual victim status.

The Tutsi-dominated Rwandan government has been quick to learn the lesson and uses the 1994 genocide as a shield to ward off any complaints about the activities, past and present, of anyone now in authority there.

So when Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles issued forty international arrest warrants against military officials of the Rwandan Patriotic Front for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism committed between 1990 and 2002, the Rwandans went beserk.

The Hirondelle News Agency report sets out the basis for the indictments in an account which is not in the best English but which conveys the gravity of the offences charged.

Many of the offences charged took place in 1994 and thus fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Article 7 of the ICTR Statute) and as such fall to be prosecuted by the ICTR. Whilst the Prosecutor of the ICTR, Hassan Jallow, is not bound by the conclusions of the Spanish Courts, this is but the most recent examplar of a clear policy on his part not to prosecute anyone connected with the regime of Paul Kagame, a decision which many believe is motivated by two desires: one, to enable some countries in the West to keep in with Paul Kagame because of his de facto control over minerals, gems and oil in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and, secondly, to avoid offending Kagame in such a way that he withdraws co-operation with the ICTR.

Hassan Jallow: is his partiality for Kagame
misfeasance in a public office?

It is the latter issue which much animates the mostly Hutu prisoners in the United Nations Detention Facility at Arusha, as it does all fair-minded people. Time and again the prosecutor has been seized of material which plainly establishes a prima facie case that falls within the ICTR jurisdiction against Kagame himself and this or that Rwandan Patriotic Front worthy. Time and again the prosecutor fails in his duty in such circumstances which, under Article 17 of the Statute is to issue an indictment against those named. It is this failure which renders the ICTR subject to a complete lack of legitimacy in the eyes of many and which undermines confidence in the impartiality of such Tribunals.

The Rwandan response has been a furious one. The Lower House of its Parliament has demanded that the government prosecute the Judge for denying the 1994 genocide. The request was made to the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, during a plenary session on the indictments issued by the Spanish judge.


According to Rwandan radio, Karugarama claimed that these arrest warrants should concern the Rwandan population because they were issued in violation of the law. Whether that was Rwandan law or Spanish law or international criminal law, he did not say.


Formal allegations of crime by Kagame and his henchmen continue to pile up. Though the scale of their offences is not by any means on the scale of the 1994 genocide, they do nevertheless involve many thousands of victims. Yet Kagame continues, shamefully, to be lionized by the likes of Gordon Brown and, to its eternal shame, the Conservative Party. The continuing refusal of governments and, in particular, the Prosecutor of the ICTR is an affront to justice. The latter’s prevarication has gone far beyond the realm of inefficiency and has entered the realm of grave misfeasance in a public office. What is so wicked about this is that he tars with the same brush those present and former members of his staff who take a much more sanguine view of Mr. Kagame and who would love to have a crack at him in Court. It is partly the Prosecutor’s dereliction of duty which has led many able recruits to the ICTR Prosecutor’s office to leave.


Meanwhile the ICTR gravy train rumbles on in Arusha Tanzania, its African employees desperate to spin out its life as long as possible that they might squeeze the very last dollar out of it, legally or otherwise. Trials that are supposed to be commenced and completed expeditiously meander on in a flagrant abuse of the Defendants’ rights to a fair trial. In one trial, for example, known as Government II, four erstwhile members of the Rwandan government were arrested as long ago as 1999, yet Messrs. Bizimungu, Mugenzi, Bicamumpaka and Mugiraneza remain on trial to this day, with little real prospect that they will have judgement rendered on their cases this year. The ICTR has ruled that there is nothing wrong with this sort of delay, a decision which most would regard as capricious and insulting to the intelligence and a grave affront to justice.


The charade goes on with the present Rwandan regime defying the world with its shameful protection of criminals who it ought to surrender to the Tribunal for justice. After all, when anyone is convicted by the Tribunal, they are the first to praise it for its work. If their people are innocent, let them be surrendered and justice take its course.


This will not happen, however, because the present regime has much to fear from an impartial examination of its record. So much that were a proper enquiry to take place even the French would be embarrassed to deal with them any more.


Meanwhile a second friendly power has issued indictments against Kagame cronies and still Her Majesty’s Government sits firmly on its hands whilst continuing to cosy up to the vicious and criminal Kagame regime. That it dose so is a matter which covers Brown and Miliband with shame. But, as we know only too well with these two, they do shameful things daily without batting an eyelid, so why should we expect them to trouble themselves about the killing of a few thousands here and there?

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