Genocide: New Zealand continues to set the bar high

New Zealand’s former envoy to the UN, Amb. Colin Keating hands over diplomatic archives to Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the UN, Valentine Rugwabiza. / Courtesy

Many countries usually seal their restricted and confidential documents for a certain length of time, depending on the sensitivity of the classified information, a caveat is put determining the number of years before they are unsealed.

The documents of any public organization or officer are supposed to be public property, but that does not mean access to them is granted immediately.


Every once in awhile, we hear of archives of former Heads of State being opened after 50 years under lock and key. Usually, it is to protect the incumbent or the information is only released when it cannot cause any harm. That is how Patrice Lumumba’s murder was solved.


Rwanda has for many years been requesting countries who were involved in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – in one way or another – to open their archives in order to get to the bottom of the crime of the century.


It is an open secret that top French military and political officials were implicated knee-deep in the Genocide, so by releasing them there will be not much to hide. But releasing them is an opportunity to understand the underlying factor, and if possible, give survivors some form of closure.

New Zealand is one country that has shown consistency in feeling the pain of the Genocide victims. It is on record that at the height of the Genocide, when it chaired the General Assembly, it was the lone voice that raised the alarm of what was happening in Rwanda. It was ignored but it continued soldiering on.

This week New Zealand passed another milestone when it handed over archives titled “Official diplomatic reporting relating to the United Nations peacekeeping Rwanda”. Hopefully, it will peel off another layer of secrecy.

In the meantime, survivors are still waiting for the others to do the same, if they have nothing to hide of course.

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