The OHCHR’s involvement in Mugesera’s deportation encourages impunity

It is extremely unfortunate that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights-Committee Against Torture (HCHR-CAT) has chosen to involve itself in the case of Leon Mugesera, a genocide fugitive who fled to Canada.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights-Committee Against Torture (HCHR-CAT) has chosen to involve itself in the case of Leon Mugesera, a genocide fugitive who fled to Canada.

After spending almost two decades fighting his removal from Canadian soil all the way to the Supreme Court, his victims finally believed that he would soon face justice, this week. Unfortunately, his defence team has successfully petitioned the HCHR-CAT on the pretext that he would be tortured in Rwanda.

What is most bewildering to Rwandans is the fact that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have all shown their confidence in the Rwandan legal and political process.

In its judgment to allow the transfer of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi to Rwanda, the ICTR Appeals Chamber, on December 16, 2011, ruled that “Rwanda had made material changes in its law and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by ICTR adhering to internationally recognized fair trial standards”.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on October 27, 2011 that "if extradited to stand trial in Rwanda, Sylvère Ahorugeze would not risk a flagrant denial of justice". Mr. Ahorugeze had filed a complaint before the ECHR to dispute Sweden's decision to extradite him to Rwanda, on grounds that he would not be guaranteed a fair trial. Include the fact that the UNHCR invoked the cessation clause early this year, after it came to believe that there was no need for Rwandans to be refugees, and what one see’s is a pattern of international acknowledgement of Rwanda’s strides since 1994.

Why a UN sister agency would go against all these cases is without reason. The HCHR-CAT is being used by Leon Mugesera to avoid justice; they should hold their heads in shame.

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