As Rwanda urges nations, Interpol to ignore warrants
KIGALI - The Spanish government has equally expressed shock at last week’s indictments by a Spanish judge against 40 senior Rwandan military officers for alleged mass murder and crimes against humanity after the 1994 Genocide, Kigali has said.
In a statement condemning Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles’s indictments, the Rwandan government said it received assurances from Madrid that it was not party to what officials here described as “bogus and ridiculous indictments.”
‘The Government of Rwanda is encouraged by assurances from Spanish authorities that the Spanish government is not party to this misuse of universal jurisdiction and that they too are genuinely perplexed by the turn of events,’ a February 9 statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affaires and Cooperation, reads in part.
The government urged Spain, Interpol and the UN member states in general to ignore the arrest warrants, which, according to reports, have 10 days to be affected. The indictments were issued on February 6.
‘Government would like to make it categorically clear that there is no basis whatsoever to support those allegations. The political timing of these indictments is not accidental. They come at a time when the credibility and the image of the Government of Rwanda, both locally, regionally and internationally are gaining tremendous momentum,’ says the two-page statement.
The government said the indictments are mathematically designed to destablise the nation, coming just as the country is preparing to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Genocide and parliamentary elections scheduled later this year.
Each year, the nation mourns at least a million of its nationals who perished in the 100-day 1994 Genocide from April 7-14.
The government accuses judge Merelles for not bothering to visit Rwanda and DR Congo, the supposed scenes of the alleged crimes, and to seek the views of those implicated in the purported crimes.
‘He just sat in Madrid, listened to well-known detractors of Rwanda and based on their falsehoods, which he never tried to crosscheck, just went ahead and issued indictments.
‘According to the media extracts we have received, his so-called judicial file is full of hate and racist language, Genocide denial and absolute falsehoods.
This is very ridiculous and an abuse of judicial process and puts to question the Judge’s intentions,’ the communiqué says.
It adds that the universal jurisdiction ‘under which the judge purports to proceed does not absolve him from conducting a judicial process in an impartial, professional and judicial manner.
‘It does not authorize him to deny the Rwanda Genocide, a fact established by the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court for Rwanda. It does not allow him to act irresponsibly and recklessly. Universal jurisdiction is not a license for any judge or other judicial officers to violate the basic principles of judicial conduct.’
The communiqué goes on: ‘It does not allow him the freedom to accept to be manipulated by well-known forces hostile to the intended victims to the extent of transforming Genocide perpetrators into heroes and those who stopped Genocide into ‘Villains.’
‘It is absurd that a foreign judge could issue an indictment against officials of a sovereign state for crimes committed on the soil of that sovereign state without going through either Diplomatic channels or judicial institutions of that sovereign state. This political game and drama in judicial matters is a dangerous path and spells doom to international law and order. Those involved in it are advised to desist,’ it adds.
The government further gave assurances for safety to Spanish citizens living and working in Rwanda.
The Spanish judge’s indictment document targets almost all top former officers of Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), a rebel force led by President Paul Kagame during a 1990-94 liberation war.
Merelles said he also has evidence implicating President Kagame in human rights crimes, but could not indict the Head of State because he has immunity.
He claimed to have gathered testimony from 22 people, most of them in exile and now in witness-protection programmes.
The government has on several occasions said that a group of Genocide fugitives is at the centre of a coordinated campaign to tarnish its image, with intention to return to power and accomplish the Genocide.
The post-Genocide government has since widely been credited for bringing about peace and security, and fostering unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, while at the same time propelling the country’s economy to unprecedented growth levels.
The Genocide is blamed on the then government, which largely used the services of members of then Rwanda Armed Forces (FAR) and Interahamwe, a militia it formed in the run up to the slaughters.
Remnants of FAR and Interahamwe are until today still active, with their military base in the neighbouring DR Congo, and its political leader Ignace Murwanashyaka resident in Germany.