Several countries on Monday called on France to speed up the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on its territory.
This was at the start of the 29th session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, underway in Geneva from January 15 to 26 during which the next group of 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined under the same mechanism.
“UPR29 States recommend to #France to expedite the prosecution of suspected #genocide perpetrators residing in the country,” the UN Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world, tweeted.
The human rights record of France was being examined for the third time.
The New Times understands that UPR States including Guyana, Kenya, Iran, Israel, Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda explicitly made recommendations to the Government of France about the truth and justice for Genocide against Tutsi.
Rwanda recommended to the Government of France to, among others, take active steps to either prosecute or extradite suspected Genocide perpetrators residing on its territory; take active steps to declassify and make public all documents that contain government and military information related to the pre, during and post-Genocide period; and to take steps to investigate allegations emanating from various sources of France’s role and involvement in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
No reason to decline recommendation
Genocide researcher Tom Ndahiro says it is difficult for France to extradite the suspected mass murderers as it is “not ready to abandon their friends.”
A trial of a genocidaire, he says, is a reminder of France’s own involvement in the Genocide.
He added: “On the other hand, France would be reducing the burden of being reminded of this role every time Rwandans and friends of Rwanda claim justice referring to those hiding in France. Keeping them there is a sign of their tragic role.”
“Rwanda has proven and continues to demonstrate the will to promote justice and human rights. France has no reason to decline this recommendation.”
Last June, Genocide survivors and a France-based civil society organisation, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), separately asked the UN to examine France’s role in the 1994 Genocide.
The two submissions were handed over to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council ahead of France’s current third Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Genocide survivors made their submission through their umbrella association, Ibuka. Meanwhile, the CPCR, a non-governmental organisation which has spent nearly two decades advocating for the prosecution of suspected génocidaires residing in France, maintained that its sole goal is to obtain the truth and seek justice for the victims of the Genocide.
The CPCR denounces what it sees as systematic refusal by France to extradite génocidaires to Rwanda to face trial. It maintains that 30 individual extradition requests have been rejected by France’s Cour de Cassation.
Soon after making their submission last year, CPCR president Alain Gauthier, said they were focused on the refusal by France to acknowledge its role in the Genocide, in which more than a million people were slaughtered between April and July 1994.
He said, by choosing not to extradite or delaying the prosecution of suspected génocidaires residing in France, Paris has blocked efforts to establish the truth and bring about justice.
Kigali would like to see immediate steps taken by Paris to cooperate and bring to justice the likes of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a Rwandan catholic priest implicated in the 1994 Genocide, and former prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta, another Genocide suspect, among others.
The CPCR continues to question deliberate delays by France to prosecute Genocide suspects on its soil. These failures, it says, amount to a breach of international law by France. Ibuka shares and endorses the concerns raised by CPCR.
Ibuka, in its own submission to the UNHRC, appealed to the UN Human Rights Council and UN member states to give the concerns raised due consideration and take necessary action regarding CPCR recommendations.
New revelations last year put the spotlight on a French bank, BNP Paribas, which was sued for financing the Genocide as well as top French officials for issuing re-armament orders for the genocidal regime in breach of an UN arms embargo.
About the Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
It is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries.
It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.
The documents on which the reviews are based are: information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”; information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; and information from other stakeholders, including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations.
Reviews take place through an interactive discussion between the State under review and other UN Member States.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can participate in the UPR process as they can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report which is considered during the review.