KIGALI - Three international human rights groups; African Rights, the Collectif des Parties Civile pour le Rwanda (CPCR), and REDRESS, Tuesday issued a joint statement highlighting what they called “wider implications of the arrest of Callixte Mbarushimana in Paris.”
Mbarushimana, the Executive Secretary of the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was arrested on Monday by French authorities, in response to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in September.
He is accused of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year.
The groups, despite welcoming the arrest, have emphasized that “there appears to be more to Callixte Mbarushimana than the crimes which have been attributed to him by the ICC with respect to North and South Kivu.”
“Like many other figures at the helm of the FDLR, Mbarushimana has long faced accusations that he played a central role in organizing and executing the killings of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda,” reads part of their Tuesday joint statement.
“Specifically, Mbarushimana is alleged to have been involved in atrocities committed in Kigali. When the Genocide began on 7 April 1994, Mbarushimana was a computer technician with the UNDP in Kigali. After the evacuation of most of the foreign staff, Mbarushimana appointed himself as the officer in charge from 10 April until 4 July 1994.”
The ICC has indicted Mbarushimana on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, torture, rape, attacks against civilians, destruction of property, inhuman treatment and persecution, but doesn’t mention Genocide.
This bothers the rights groups.
They state that even though it is necessary and important that he answer the charges levelled against him by the ICC, he must also answer the charges of Genocide.
As revealed, in 2001; the UN conducted its own investigation and linked Mbarushimana with the murder of 32 people, including Tutsi colleagues at the UNDP, during the Genocide.
“Lawyers with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) prepared an indictment on charges of Genocide, but the Prosecutor at the time sidelined the case. In 2005, the UNDP asked the French government to initiate proceedings, but little was done,” the rights groups say.
As further noted, on February 5, 2008, the CPCR submitted a criminal complaint to French authorities, detailing individual acts of Genocide Mbarushimana was alleged to have committed.
“While French investigative judges have visited Rwanda many times in recent months, Mbarushimana has not featured as one of their priorities. This failure to act allowed him to continue to use his safe haven in Paris for the benefit of the FDLR,” the statement reads.
“However, because of the ICC’s limited jurisdiction, Mr. Mbarushimana will not be held responsible for crimes he is accused of during the 1994 Genocide.”
The rights groups note that about 20 complaints against Genocide suspects are currently pending before French authorities.
“The late arrest of Callixte Mbarushimana should, at the very least, serve as a wake-up call for French authorities to follow up on these complaints without further delays.”
Mbarushimana arrived in France in 2003 and has been living there ever since.