12. Politics and justice
One of the reasons or rather pretexts AI uses to refuse the transfer of Rwandan genocide suspects to Rwanda is that the justice system in Rwanda is not independent of politics.
In reality the western world does not do much better than us as regards separating justice from politics; this may be shock to some. They are only better at disguising the dependence of justice on politics from those who are not critical enough. This dependence sometimes breaks out of control and comes to light.
A book written by Florence Hartmann, a former spokesperson of Carla del Ponte when she was the prosecutor of both the ICTY and ICTR, sheds more light on this matter. We see that Milosevic was torn between justice, represented by Carla del Ponte and big political powers that were using Milosevic as a chip in peace negotiations.
Milosevic was no doubt an abominable champion of ethnic cleansing, but this does not seem to have been the main concern of the prosecutor or enthusiasts of “Realpolitik” They had other stones to grind and held the purse strings.
We see the prosecutor with an inordinately large ego, trying desperately to convict Milosevic without the idea crossing her mind at any moment, that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
This subordination of justice to politics can also be seen in a book about the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière. It was written by a French journalist Sébastien Spitzer, and the title is also quite enlightening.
Politics gives free rein to justice only in matters of little or low importance, which do not threaten the essential fabric of society. This allows politics to hoodwink the simple minded into believing the illusion that justice is independent.
We can also say that this is normal. It is politics that ensures the existence of human societies. It is politics that gives justice a role to punish those who break the laws in a society.
In a society, politics rules supreme; it manages the socioeconomic links among members of the society. It plays what Aristotle called an architectonic role; it is what allows cohesion and coherence of the whole social structure.
Other sciences in society, like judicial science, law, are branches of political science.
13 The proof of the pudding is in the eating
“Amnesty International is calling ….. not to do so until Rwanda demonstrates that it can and will conduct the trials fairly and impartially and that victims and witnesses will be protected. The organization believes that so far it has failed to do so”
It is a fact that Rwanda has fulfilled objectively verifiable, of internationally recognised conditions that AI seems to ignore. These conditions are there for everybody to see. It would have been better for AI to show with concrete examples what Rwanda has failed to do and needs to improve on. Otherwise, one can subjectively claim the same thing about all the countries in the world (that they are not able to judge “justly, fairly and effectively”); that depends on the point of view from which one looks at it.
On the other hand, any baseless assertion, even from AI, can be rejected without need for an explanation.
A big part of the “international standards of justice” that AI demands from Rwanda to demonstrate are not easy to demonstrated. Evidence cannot be demonstrated or, at best, very hard to demonstrate. Rwanda judges people, some are condemned, others acquitted.
It is not that Rwanda does not recognise or respect, as AI and others claim, the principle of “presumption of innocence”. We can apply the principle, but how can it be “demonstrated”?
14. Rwanda refuses to classify war and acts of genocide in the same category.
AI is committing a gross error of judgment by concluding that, because Rwanda DOES NOT PUT THE RPA in the same category with genocide suspects, it CANNOT judge the genocide suspects “justly, fairly and impartially”. On the other hand Rwanda has already judged a big number of RPA members for various crimes, sometimes with harsher verdicts than for civilians. The evidence is there to see.
Rwanda is ready to put others to trial where necessary. But it refuses to classify acts of war and acts of genocide in the same category. To conclude from this that Rwanda CANNOT judge acts of genocide is stretching logic too far, no doubt inspired by a demagogic interpretation of impartiality.
It is also important to add that like all other institutions the ICTR should not, under pressure from AI and HRW, neglect the elementary rules of common sense.
It goes against common sense, in the name of egalitarianism, to want to judge the RPA for acts of war before judging even half of the genocide cases.
The ICTR was created to support Rwanda, so they say, in trying the most important cases, the masterminds of the genocide and let the under developed judicial system try those who actually carried out the acts of genocide. Here we see, as remarked earlier, a problem of impartiality and equity with regard to democratic equality; this, however, if we are well informed, has not caused AI any concern.
Final part in our Monday’s edition