KIGALI - The Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, yesterday said that it would be naïve for Rwandans to think the legitimacy to pursue FDLR and their supporters is based on foreign lists, even if foreign cooperation is needed.
Ngoga made the remarks in reaction to comments by Charles Kambanda, a lecturer at St. John's University, in New York, that the FDLR is not on the US’s list of terrorist groups, and alleged that there is no UN resolution stating the fact.
FDLR is a French acronym for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a militia group largely composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
After perpetrating the Genocide, they fled into the DRC where they have since then wrecked havoc – killing, raping, plundering and breaking up families.
“There should be no ambiguity – FDLR is subject to numerous Security Council resolutions, with the ongoing prosecution of its leadership, and others on travel bans as well as their assets being subject to freeze,” Ngoga said.
“First of all, we need to understand that the point is not whether FDLR is on anybody’s list of criminal organizations or not, rather whether they are in fact a criminal organization or a legitimate political organization”.
Nonetheless, the Prosecutor General stressed that the FDLR is responsible for horrendous, past and ongoing, crimes and this is “not subject to any debate of any kind.”
The FDLR did not feature on the US’ November 2010 list of 47 Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO).
Most organizations on the list are extremist Islamist groups, while others are mainly communist groups, followed by separatist groups.
Previously known as the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR), in 2000, they amalgamated with other extremists groups to form the present FDLR.
According to Ngoga, the evolution of ALIR into FDLR is another unambiguous matter.
“As to what Kambanda said, in the past, the United States listed ALIR as a terrorist organization following the murder of American nationals in Bwindi Forest (in Uganda).”
“We know of no date when ALIR fighters surrendered to any authority that can account for them today. The change of names is of no importance as regards their pursuit.
If the list is of essence, the resolutions of the UN Security Council to which the US sits, are weightier than declarations of the State Department.”
“If the Americans wanted to annotate their list, they could do so, but the process has moved on from being a State Department list, to a Security Council resolutions agenda”.
Ngoga added that: “The Americans might have been moved by the murder of their nationals, then, to list ALIR as a terrorist organization, and FDLR’s terror is not perpetrated against Americans.”
“FDLR’s atrocities are a matter of international concern, and no one can succeed to minimize it at this stage,” Ngoga said.