Genocide: France ought to stop blocking justice

A FRENCH court has once again rejected the request for asylum by former Rwandan First Lady Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana, a Genocide fugitive believed to have been a core member of the Akazu, the extremist inner circle of close confidants and relatives of President Juvenal Habyarimana in the days leading up to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

A FRENCH court has once again rejected the request for asylum by former Rwandan First Lady Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana, a Genocide fugitive believed to have been a core member of the Akazu, the extremist inner circle of close confidants and relatives of President Juvenal Habyarimana in the days leading up to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

At face value, the decision by Le Conseil d’Etat is a welcome development to Genocide survivors and indeed to anyone on the side of justice and accountability.

Nonetheless, no one should be fooled by the latest twist in this case. Indeed the fate of Kanziga now lies with the French Ministry of Internal affairs since she seems to have exhausted all judicial avenues to secure a residence permit.

 Not until the former first lady is extradited to Rwanda to stand trial or arraigned before French courts of law that Paris should be taken seriously with regard to its handling of Genocide cases.

Yet the verdict is significant with the court suggesting that Kanziga was suspected of playing a central role in the Genocide, which it unequivocally stated had been planned by the then extremist government in Kigali.

France is home to dozens of Genocide suspects, with a good number of them on Interpol Red Notice for their part in the killings but the authorities in Paris have shown little, if any willingness, to help bring them to justice. Some of them have previously been arrested, only to be released under unclear circumstances days later.

Even in instances where cases have been referred to France by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the former has practically made no effort to try those fugitives. One such cases involves Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, the former St. Famille cathedral priest who was sentenced to life in absentia in Rwanda, but continues to freely go about his priestly responsibilities in France.

It’s about time France stops perpetuating impunity with regard to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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