Prosecutor - General, Martin Ngoga, has described the last minute intervention of a Quebec court to further delay Leon Mugesera’s deportation as a “stinging insult” to survivors of the Genocide.
The Canadian Government was set to deport Mugesera on Thursday, but the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Committee against Torture (OHCHR-CAT), requested for the delay to investigate torture claims.
Ngoga described the torture argument as “cynical and baseless” pointing out Rwanda’s strong relationship with the UN across a range of justice and human rights issues.
He cites the fact that the UN entrusts Rwanda to house war criminals from Sierra Leone and the UNHCR’s declaration last week that the country is safe for returning refugees.
The Federal Court had on Wednesday ruled that Mugesera, who had been battling deportation for 16 years, was unsuitable to remain on the Canadian soil.
The Canada Border Services Agency had set January 12 as the date for deportation but it has since delayed following a couple of events, mainly the UN intervention and the subsequent hospitalisation of the 59 year old, after a suspected drug overdose.
Despite the Spokesman for Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews’ pronouncement, that Mugesera would be removed as “soon as possible in accordance with Canadian law”, the Quebec Superior Court extended his stay in Canada for a week to allow time to look into the UN’s concerns.
Reacting to the decision, Ngoga said that the Canadian Government should not follow the decision of the Quebec Court and should instead go ahead to carry out the deportation as earlier planned, saying that the UN move is meant to delay the process.
“The Canadian Government is not obliged to follow the decision of the Quebec Court. The decision of the Court is very disappointing. The intervention by the UN Committee is meant to further derail the process of justice.
“This Committee should know what other UN bodies, more competent than it is, have said on Rwanda’s justice and governance in General,” Ngoga told The New Times.
Ngoga noted that Rwanda hopes Canada would go ahead to deport Mugesera and not attach any credibility to the claims which are baseless and unacceptable.
“On our part, we definitely will not engage in the time-wasting exercise of the Committee. We abolished the death penalty and ratified the convention against torture the year after. We won favourable decisions from the ICTR and European Court of Human rights,” Ngoga observed.
He said that next week, a genocide suspect will arrive in Kigali to face trial after a referral from the ICTR, the UN Court charged with prosecuting genocide-related crimes.
“None of these things would be possible if Rwanda was suspected of engaging in torture of any kind,” Ngoga said.
Mugesera’s lawyers were able to obtain the injunction in Montreal, hours before the suspect, who was lying in a hospital bed in Quebec City, could be deported.
“The Mugesera team is obviously scrambling to find any remaining sympathetic ear for their client. It is disappointing that they seem to have found one,” Ngoga lamented.
Mugesera is wanted for crimes related to inciting violence and propagating crimes against humanity, through an incendiary speech he gave in 1992, when he called on Hutus to kill Tutsis and dump them into Nyabarongo River.
Ngoga reaffirmed that if extradited, Mugesera will receive a fair trial like thousands of genocide suspects before him.