I have read retired American diplomat Richard Johnson’s well-substantiated and easy to read analysis of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) unbelievable journey from a human rights advocate to a champion of genocidaires. It is no exaggeration to say that it is devastating. It really is the best proof of Lord Acton’s axiom that power corrupts.
As it might be expected, given the power and influence of Human Rights Watch and its long serving Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, (apparently term limits are only for others), a lot of bile is now being spit at Mr. Johnson for daring to point out what has long been obvious to the rest of us. Most of the screeches are of course coming from people who have been long associated with that organisation.
However, as is their usual practice, they fail to disclose such associations and therefore their lack of Mr. Johnson’s objectivity. Some of the most important points disclosed by Mr. Johnson are that the 2009 decision by the UK High Court to quash a lower court’s order to extradite Genocide suspects to Rwanda and to stay any further legal proceedings against them even in Britain relied almost solely on a HRW brief opposing the extradition.
HRW was similarly involved in the preparation of the DRC’s Mapping Report. It is no surprise here; most of its allegations had already been made in HRW’s 1997 eport, “What is Kabila Hiding?” prepared by Scott Campbell who would then move on to the UN Human Rights Commission where he would then dust off his old report, add a few more unsubstantiated accusations from anonymous sources, and then have the slightly changed HRW report released with a UN imprimatur - after first leaking it to accomplices in the French media to ensure UN bosses would find it politically difficult, if not impossible to tone down it’s wild and unsubstantiated claims.
HRW’s power and influence extends very far and deep in Western decision-making circles. It is also relevant to point out that Theodor Meron, the President of the ICTR Appellate Bench, has long and extensive associations with HRW. Given what Mr. Johnson tells us about HRW’s opposition to justice for the victims and survivors of the 1994 Genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi and Judge Meron’s close association with HRW, that Bench’s bizarre decisions reversing earlier convictions or radically reducing sentences of genocidaires become easier to understand.
There is clearly a glaring case of a serious conflict of interest between Meron’s HRW affiliation and his presiding of appeals of people whose cause has been enthusiastically and shamelessly adopted by HRW.
The question we should be asking ourselves is how people so closely associated with HRW and other anti-Rwanda activist organisations keep on being appointed to UN positions to work on Rwanda-sensitive assignments. Could our Government ask Mr. Ban Ki-moon to kindly edify us on this incredibly recurring phenomenon?
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali
Reactions to the story, “HRW’s credibility comes under scrutiny”, (The New Times, March 22).
UN should state position over regular falsehoods about Rwanda