KIGALI - The highly controversial UN Mapping Report which accuses Rwandan troops of committing genocide against Hutu refugees in the DR Congo, was at the heart of critical scholarly analysis at a high-level conference, yesterday, with renowned local and international academics, researchers and diplomats, all branding it ‘illegitimate and fundamentally flawed’.
The authors of the report, released on October 1 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, were under spotlight as delegates challenged the technical procedures of the investigation, credibility of the sources and impartiality of the investigators.
Notable among the fierce critics of the report were; the long-serving international diplomat and former EU Special Envoy to DR Congo, Ambassador Aldo Ajello; the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Ambassador Liberata Mulamula; former FDLR commander, Maj. Gen. Jerome Ngendahimana; Brig. Gen. Richard Rutatina, the Defence and Security Advisor to the President; several renowned Rwandan, American and European international law experts, among others.
The two-day conference, organized by the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG), coincided with the 62nd anniversary of the UN Convention against Genocide.
Amb. Ajello said that the report “surprised” him, adding that it does not describe the true context of the DR Congo conflict. The long-serving diplomat explained that the FDLR rebels were holding Rwandan refugees as hostages, and that Rwanda was under constant threat. The rebel group, at that time, attacked Rwanda at least four times a week, he said.
Ajello, who made frequent visits to the region, blamed the international community, particularly the UN and EU, for ignoring numerous calls from President Paul Kagame (then Vice President and Minister of Defence) to resolve the security threat posed by the FDLR, a group largely comprised of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“The camps were so close to Rwanda, which was a violation of international law, and there was a clear intention on the part of genocide perpetrators to violently return and complete their genocidal agenda,” he added. ‘Rwanda was constantly under siege.”
Prof. Michael Sharf, a US law professor, said it was dangerous for a non-judicial organ to allege that “genocide” had been committed, and suggested that the UN report had such fundamental flaws that it cannot be legitimately used in any court of law.
Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, a Rwandan international law expert and university lecturer, explained at length the procedural errors of the Mapping Exercise. He cited examples of well-known Genocide deniers who were interviewed by the authors of the report. Bizimana further noted that the failure to seek comments from accused parties, including Rwanda, questions the motive behind mapping exercise.
Amb. Mulamula described the report as a major threat to regional stability, and called for a collective response.
“The report lacks credibility; we need to condemn it and question its motive and timing of its release,” she said. “The report was a great disservice to the region that is committed to peaceful coexistence, cooperation, improving relations, reconstruction and development.”
The report also accuses armies from at least six other African countries of committing human rights violations in the Congo between 1993 and 2003; most of them have since condemned the report.
The former Ex-FAR Spokesperson and Intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Jerome Ngendahimana, gave a detailed account of how the genocidal regime and the army (Ex-far) fled into the DR Congo taking millions of civilians with them as hostages.
He explained how the genocidal regime operated inside Congo and gave details of how ex-FAR used refugee camps to recruit and train young fighters.
Ngendahimana, who voluntarily returned to Rwanda in 2003 alongside, among others, then overall ex-FAR commander, Gen. Paul Rwarakabije, recounted the ex-FAR’s numerous insurgency attacks on Rwanda, adding that a plan had been finalized for a major assault early 1997.
Brig. Gen. Richard Rutatina, the Defence and Security Advisor to the President, pointed out that the report was an attempt to legitimize their double-genocide theory.
While opening the two-day conference, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Tharcisse Karugarama, said: “Rwanda, having been the victim of one of the most intense modern genocides, cannot allow the crime of genocide to become a political tool in the hands of individuals who seek to manipulate it.”
He added: “The UN Mapping Report sacrificed truth and fairness to further a political agenda. It is flawed in every manner; from its historical interpretation to its methodology and evidence collection.”
The conference is held under the theme: “The 1948 UN Genocide Convention under Siege? The Cases of the UN Mapping Report on the DRC and Darfur.”