KIGALI - Hardly a week after French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, appointed a new government, on November 14, rights groups have written to the new French minister of justice, Michel Mercier, drawing his attention on suspected Genocidaires living in France.
In the latest petition dated November 19, three international human rights groups – African Rights, the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), and REDRESS, underline that they previously tried to alert Mercier’s predecessors on the presence in France of suspects linked to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“We are particularly concerned by the delay in proceedings concerning the suspects present in France and the lack of resources made available to judges so that they can conduct such investigations,” reads part of the petition.
The trio requested the Minister for time to discuss their concerns.
CPCR’s head, Alain Gauthier, African Rights’ Rakiya Omaar and REDRESS’s Carla Ferstman, signed the letter which was also copied to the French president, Prime Minister Francois Fillon and new foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
In the letter, they remind Mercier that on October 28, last year, his predecessor Michele Alliot-Marie announced and expressed the desire to create, in France, a unit of specialist investigators for the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity.
This, they state, was welcomed as a sign of France’s commitment to not provide a safe haven to perpetrators of international crimes.
They argue that 20 files are currently before four judges in Paris but despite their apparent good will, the four judges, including two appointed recently, cannot juggle everything.
As revealed, in 2009, two judges requested to be excused from their other duties so that they could concentrate on the Rwandan cases but the request was denied.
They also request that, since France does not want to extradite all Genocide suspects on French soil, they should be investigated, and if necessary, be prosecuted in French courts.
“This is the only way for France to fulfil its obligations to end impunity concerning these crimes. We also demand that the Justice of France follows the example of other European countries – and establish a specialized body to support the work of judges in charge of these affairs.”
In October, the same groups urged countries, including France, Belgium, The Netherlands, UK, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, DRC, USA and Canada, to support and cooperate with the ICTR until all proceedings are closed and all Genocide fugitives are brought to book.
Some European countries have slowly picked up momentum against suspected masterminds of the 1994 Genocide and their accomplices
In October, Callixte Mbarushimana, the FDLR Executive Secretary was arrested by French police in response to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing him of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the eastern DRC.
However, the rights groups and government say he also played a central role in organizing and executing the killings of the 1994 Genocide.