On August 31, 2020, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) announced the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina, who was subsequently charged by the Rwandan prosecution with 13 counts relatingto activities of the National Liberation Front (NLF) terror group – the armed wing of his political coalition MRCD –that targeted civilians in Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe Districts, claimingnine innocent lives and destroying property. The arrest sparked all the wrong controversies as if it was Rwanda, rather than the suspected terrorist, in the dock. Rwanda’s institutions were targeted for smear, mainly around the ability of Rwanda’s justice system to provide a fair trial. Just like the debates before, amplified by international media, this one is also unwarranted and diversionary. An interesting turn in the claim that Rwanda’s institutions cannot oversee a fair trial involved a conversation between Phil Clark, a professor of International Politics at SOAS University of London, and Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director atHuman rights Watch, a largely discredited corrupt organisation that is run like a drug mafia. The Twitter exchange exposed the nature of HRW advocacy and reflected a call for cautiousness for those who relay its unfounded allegations. But on what basis is HRW, to put aside the fact that it is a corrupt entity with no credibility, making accusations against the Rwanda justice system that it cannot hold a fair trial? In its now discredited report, “Rwanda: Rusesabagina Was Forcibly Disappeared”, HRW’sallegations of political interference in Rusesabagina’s trial aremainly based on a quote of President Kagame’s comments “Rusesabagina heads a group of terrorists that have killed Rwandans. He will have to pay for these crimes. Rusesabagina has the blood of Rwandans on his hands.” The comments were made in a 2 hours interview with the Rwanda Broadcasting agency (RBA)in which President Kagame addressed a wide range of issues, including the arrest of Rusesabagina. HRW’s contemptuous view with regard to the independence of the Rwandan judiciary alleges that “The president’s statements, made before any independent judicial process has determined Rusesabagina’s guilt, undermine the prospects that he will get a fair trial in Rwanda.”Mudge’s assertion is alsoheld by Brian Endless, a close friend of Rusesabagina who said in an interview with VOA, “What we do know is with the highest-profile people, it always goes the way that the government wants it to go and the [way] Kagame’s government wants it to go.” When pressedby Phil Clark on HRW’s assertion, especially in light of previous high-profile cases such as those of Diane Rwigara, which were fairly conducted and resulting in an acquittal, Mudge had this bizarre response “many analysts say it (the acquittal of Diane Rwigara) came as a result of international pressure, including from the US congress”. Interference okay as long as it’s foreign Its bizarre because, as Phil Clark rightly noted “there is zero evidence the Rwigara acquittal was about international pressure but it’s consistent with the white savior narrative to argue that whenever a trial produces a result palatable to external observers it must have been because of the US congress (read foreign pressure)”. “The other beauty here (in Lewis Mugde’s argument and HRW’s view) is that apparently political interference in a Rwandan trial is fine as long as it’s foreign interference,” Phil Clark continued to expose Mudge as a mediocre analyst peddling white supremacy-laced beliefs about the imaginary powers of foreign pressure over the Rwandan courts’ decisions. In line with Clark, the question that needs an answer is this: Why didn’t ‘foreign pressure’ allow Victoire Ingabire to evade accountability since the outcry from the same uninformed and ill-intentioned groups with no regard for justice was similarfollowing her arrest, during her prosecution and after her conviction? Why did she write to the President pleading to him to grant her mercy when she could have written Human Rights Watch to “pressure” the President? Mudge is mediocre as an analyst because in the case of Diane Rwigara, President Kagame made similar commentsas those that HRW calls political interference. Inan interview with French paper Liberation while Rwigara’s trial was ongoing, the president said, “She (Diane Rwigare) is notably accused of having wanted to stand for election last year by falsifying the list of signatures to validate her candidacy. Obviously, she believed herself untouchable, because she enjoys a lot of support abroad.” These comments, which emphasized Rwanda’s resolve not to yield to foreign pressure, contrary to what is suggested by Mugde, didn’t prevent Rwandan courts from acquitting Rwigara. If Mudge had any good faith left in him, he would use that as yet anotherpiece of evidence of the independence of the Rwandan judicial system. Most importantly, for the Rwandan judiciary, resistance to foreign pressure was neither a reason to condemn unfairly Rwigara, which if it really practiced political interference it could have done in a show of defiance against foreign interference; nor was it a reason to give her preferential treatment. In other words, in a fair trial, justice was served without rendering to external pressure or even “pressure” from the President. If such high-profilecases, with the usual unwarranted scrutiny surrounding them, couldn’t convince western Human Rights organizations of the independence of Rwandan courts, one would have to agree with the view that their advocacy has nothing to do with Human Rights but a bully pulpit for those they think they can push around or those who cannot afford to pay up the bribes – in other words, human rights is a tool for extortion. In the case of HRW, the unscrupulous and politically motivated advocacy was succinctly explained by former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of StateRichard Johnson in The Travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda. One of the subjects discussed by Johnson was HRW’s persistent opposition to transfers and extraditions of genocide suspects to face justice in Rwanda. This fact was confirmed by Professor Clark in the aforementioned twitter exchange: “One day, HRW might have to explain why it has lobbied for genocide and other atrocity suspects to avoid trial altogether (i.e enjoy impunity) rather than be extradited to Rwanda,” Clark tweeted. To date, five genocide suspects are still enjoying impunity in the UK as a result of HRW’s advocacy. In this instance, too, Phil Clark assertion is supported by Johnson’s view that “one can only conclude that HRW would have preferred impunity for the large majority of perpetrators.” As a matter of fact, in an amicus submitted in January 3, 2008 to the ICTR, HRW advocated forthe Trial Chamber to deny the Prosecutors request for the referral of the case of FulgenceKayishema, a genocide suspect, to Rwanda for trial, insisting that the Rwandan judicial system was not independent. In 2011, when the ICTR finally accepted to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda, other countries started to approve extraditions despite repeated objections from HRW. How much in extortion HRW needs before it advocates in favor of the pursuit of genocide suspects is the only question that’s unanswered. Otherwise, this is an organization that has betrayed the ideals it pretended to defend. I subscribe to Prof Clark’s view that “The HRW amicus submissions in these extradition cases must be pretty tough reading for a supposedly anti-impunity organization”. This aspect of fighting impunity is the only time Clark might have been wrong during the exchange with Mudge because Clark’s view would hold if he were dealing with people with a conscience but not HRW. Perhaps those who founded the organization had conscience driven human rights advance in mind, but this is a far cry from what it is now.