Monsieur Vincent Lurquin, it is not about you!

The first lesson you learn in a good law school is that it is not about you. That the life of your client is at stake, that your ‘one-man show’ might get them sentenced to death or made to spend the rest of their life in jail. 

That your erratic behavior such as antagonizing judges or making sensational declarations in the media isn’t in the best interests of your client. That after you have had your five minutes of fame, you get to go home, but your client doesn’t. 

 

That’s what they teach in a good school. Vincent Lurquin, Attorney at the Brussels Bar association, clearly did not go to a good school of law.

 

Vincent Lurquin entered Rwanda on 3rd October 2020 on a visitor’s visa. The Rwandan home affairs issues visas upon arrival to all citizens of the world. They expect visitors to tell the truth, in good faith, on the purpose of their visit. 

 

Unhappily, that is not always the case.

When Lurquin got here, he visited the secretariat of the Rwanda Bar Association and asked what it takes to practice law in Rwanda. 

The secretariat took him through the process; they explained that according to article 7 of the Law No 83/2013 of 11/09/2013, establishing the Bar Association in Rwanda and determining its organization and functioning, foreign advocates shall be allowed to practice law in Rwanda on the basis of reciprocity between their Bar association of origin and the Rwanda Bar Association. 

Little did they know that Me. Lurquin had violated migration law by lying on the purpose of his business in Rwanda, whereas he had entered the country on a tourist visa instead of a work visa, that would have allowed him to process a work permit. 

They learned this when the Bâtonnier of the Brussels Bar Association wrote to the Rwanda Bar Association, recommending his member, Me Vincent Lurquin to his Rwandan counterpart. 

So the Bâtonnier of the Rwanda Bar Association responded, inquiring if the recommendation marked a new chapter in the relationships between the Rwanda and Brussels bar associations.

Can Rwandan advocates be allowed to represent clients in Brussels’ courts on my recommendation? The Rwandan learned friend asked.

The response came three days later, after Me Lurquin had left the country on 10th October 2020 and confirmed that it was impossible for Rwandan advocates to represent clients in his jurisdiction. 

One has to be a Belgian or a citizen of the European Union. Non-European lawyers can only be allowed to practice law in Brussels on special arrangements of reciprocity between their Bar Association and that of Brussels, or if a treaty to that effect has been signed between their respective states. No such treaty exists between our two countries.

The Rwandan bâtonnier then replied to his Belgian counterpart expressing his regrets. He explained that Rwanda had similar laws and a protocol among East African states, allowing regional lawyers to represent clients in each other’s countries. 

He however looked forward to such arrangements to be made in the future, to allow lawyers of both countries to practice law, unhindered.

We all thought that was the end of it, but we had underestimated the narcissism of our Belgian learned friend. Upon his return to Belgium, Me Lurquin took to the media to claim that he had been prevented from seeing his client and that that meant there was no fair trial in Rwanda. 

Vincent Lurquin, an impostor who had lied to the migration officials, turned back and complained that he wasn’t granted special privileges in Rwanda. He was lucky that he wasn’t detained at the Kigali International Airport for attempting to violate migration and employment statutes in Rwanda.

Paul Rusesabagina already has two lawyers paid by the Rwanda taxpayer. More than anything else, I take issue with this. For a defendant to benefit from legal aid, paid by the Rwandan government, they have to present a certificate of indigence, showing that he or she is in the first category of ‘Ubudehe’ (eligible for social welfare in Rwanda) and can therefore not afford a lawyer. 

Paul Rusesabagina is rich, but the man is enjoying our taxes, yet his victims who were left orphans and widows by his terror organization the MRCD and FNL have not benefited from such government favors to sue him for compensation. I hope the ministry of justice sees to it that they too get justice.

But I digress, there was another case of an American woman who entered Rwanda on a tourist visa, then demanded to see Rwandan populist Victoire Ingabire in jail. 

When the American lady was dismissed, she too cried foul. We are unfortunate to have to deal with such arrogant characters. Individuals, who believe upon their arrival in Africa, the trumpet must sound and all doors open. 

We are all regularly baffled here when young interns turn up and demand to meet the President. I have lived in Rwanda for 26 years, and I never met him on a one on one occasion, I can’t even dare to ask for such privilege, yet I frequently elect him. 

Of course, when I travel to the West, I convince everyone that the president is my first uncle on speed dial…

White privilege is a disease, the other day Rusesabagina’s American spokeswoman Kitty Kurth was even more categorical: ‘if Paul Rusesabagina is not released within a week, we will boycott Rwanda and call the international community to do the same’, the woman threatened. 

Weeks have come and gone, Rusesabagina still in the fridge and humble peasants like myself have been waiting on the sky to fall on our heads…

There are people out there who want to make a name for themselves on poor souls’ fates. They are dancing in his future and that of his progeny. I believe defendant Paul Rusesabagina, who seems to have made peace with his fate should be left alone to face justice in his country. 

Some lawyers have no shame in telling their clients: ‘sorry we have lost, you might spend the rest of your life in prison, but do not worry, your case has greatly contributed to the jurisprudence and future generations will gain immense learning from it’.

A client only cares about their freedom and about winning, they do not take kindly to being used in their lawyer's ego trips.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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