President Paul Kagame yesterday said that Rwanda’s stand on the International Criminal Court (ICC) will remain unchanged based on the fact that its dispensing of justice is selective and politically motivated.
“When issues to do with ICC were being discussed, I told people that this was just another institution that is going to be abused, and at the end of the day, the victims are the Africans or weak countries that are still struggling with development.”
The Head of State continued: “This was the view I had about 10 years ago. And today I am able to ask people: ‘was I wrong?’ Because what I see today just tells the story of what I was talking about more than ten years ago. Nothing has happened that has convinced me to change my mind.”
According to the President, Rwanda is not for or against the ICC.
“Our argument is when there is need for justice anywhere, how will it be dispensed?” he asked adding, that universal jurisdiction had lost its meaning because it did not apply equally and was used selectively which was unacceptable.
“On matters of ICC therefore, what we are talking about is this question: why this world is divided into categories. There are people who have the power to use international justice to judge others but it does not apply to them. You find in some places it is used against people who they think do not serve their interests … how can we have a world of this kind of order? Or for that matter, why should we accept it? the President wondered.
On whether affirmative action that has seen women gain even more ground had done its job and was no longer necessary, the President said their increased representation in parliament should not be the only yardstick.
“The significant representation of women in parliament is offset maybe by lower numbers in other places. There is still work in progress, but nonetheless there is very good progress. So ,I think we need to do quite more and not just look at a single issue but rather look across the board, That is what balance means,” he said.
Media lack of professionalism
President Kagame came out strongly against some sections of the international media for their lack of professionalism when reporting on Rwanda and only depending on unverified or fabricated stories.
He was referring to a recent broadcast by BBC of an alleged person who had been forcibly enlisted by the Rwandan government to join M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“You play so much politics in reporting. There is a case of someone who was in Uganda who claimed how the government of Rwanda was trying to send them to DRC to join M23. He was on BBC making so many allegations,” Kagame revealed.
“Now this person is back here. I think they must have promised him something and they didn’t give it to him. Maybe they had told him that they would send him abroad and later on, I think there was no passport or visa, so he came back.”
The story this person is telling, according to the President, is very revealing. It shows the connivance of these human rights groups … United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) … how they take them, how they coach them. This fellow was first coached what to say on BBC, working with Human Rights Watch, UNHCR people packaging a narrative that does not exist and creating it.
“These plots that have been going on in this region and affecting Rwanda are just astonishing,” adding that the media needs “divine intervention”.
About the East African Community integration, Kagame pointed out that the fact that Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda had put into motion policies that did not involve the other two partner states (Burundi and Tanzania), was not unusual but was based on the principle of variable geometry that allows member states that were ready to implement certain protocols and not to be held back by others but to forge ahead.
“Some people are behind others on issues of implementation. The best thing is for all of us to move together at the same pace, if we can do that. But there is a danger that if we wait for everybody to get what they need to get it right, we may actually never move forward. But let us remain with the same objective of moving forward to a certain point as fast as we can.”
Beginning January 1, 2014, visitors to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will need a single visa to the three countries while their nationals will be able to use national or school IDs as travel documents.