THE constant accusations against the Government of Rwanda over allegations of human rights abuse, lack of political space and press freedom have been part of campaigns to discredit the credibility of recent presidential elections. These accusations show how the international community is manipulated by some organizations that are eager to assume state powers in this era of globalisation.
In every media report or statement, one thing is repeated; that the Government of Rwanda expelled Ms. Carina Tertsakian a researcher for Human Right Watch (HRW). Without showing the reasons behind the problem, it is left to be interpreted by readers, viewers or listeners as an act of suppressing fundamental freedoms.
The issue of Carina Tertsakian was discussed extensively and reasons behind the cancellation of her work permit are true facts. It seems the facts presented were ignored, being the reason this issue is a constant factor in every statement. It is for that matter that I would like to shade more light on the issue.
1. Ms Carina arrived in Rwanda on 25th January 2010, she claimed she had come for a short visit but that later in March she would come for a long stay as a resident HRW researcher,
2. On the same day, Carina submitted application for work permit. One may wonder the reason behind such a hurry, especially on a British citizen who had up to 90 days of stay.
3. The employment contract in the application documents was dated 27 October 2009 signed on 29th October 2010 and submitted on 25th January 2010. It could have been an error if it was the other way around. However, it is highly unusual for a person to sign a document on 29th October 2009 and put 29th October 2010. The logical explanation is that the document was signed in 2010 although it was meant to be signed in 2009.
4. One of signatures on the contract was totally different from the signature signed by the same person (Maria Pignataro Nielsen) in 2007! The explanation given by HRW officials was simply that the two signatures although different were authentic. HRW officials could not explain why a senior Human Right Watch official has two different signatures on official documents.
5. The original application letter dated on the time of her arrival (25 January 2010) had a signature of another senior Human Right Watch official called Georgette Gagnon which is different from another signature of the same person signed on the employment contract. The explanation given was that the signature was the same despite the fact that forensic experts had proved otherwise. Regarding the dates it was explained that the letter was forward dated to coincide with her arrival in Rwanda! Again no substantive reasons were given.
All the facts were presented to the applicant, and Human Right Watch officials could not refute them except only to explain that the documents presented were authentic without giving any reason for the discrepancies.
These explanations provided by HRW officials were not sufficient enough to make the documents acceptable. Can such flawed documents be accepted by any immigration service anywhere in the world especially in developed countries? Are we supposed to turn a blind eye on such glaring faults simply because the suspected defaulter is a researcher in Human Right Watch?
Interestingly, in all the media reports or statements not even a single one mentions the reasons shown by Immigration on the case. Instead the statement made by Human Right Watch was swallowed wholly, while facts presented by Immigration were completely disregarded.
In another angle, Human Right Watch officials deliberately did not reveal that another Human Right Watch researcher who had been in the country since 2007 was given a work permit to carry out her duties.
This researcher called Ms Leslie Haskell was in the country some days before Ms Carina left. Her work permit application documents were accepted, but Human Right Watch prefers to present a picture of their person being expelled in Rwanda deceiving the world to believe that there is no other employee in the country to do their work.
In addition to Ms Haskell, there has been another HRW researcher called Ms Eugenia Zorbas claiming to be visiting but working for HRW. If the world was honest, this deliberate omissions and manipulations would have been called “intellectual dishonest”.
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Rwanda Directorate General of
Immigration and Emigration