The Canadian Immigration Appeal Division has rejected a refugee status request by a Rwandan fugitive and instead recommended that Jean Berchmans Habinshuti should be deported.
Under Canada’s war crimes law, senior officials in the Rwandan government between 1990 and 1994 are not permitted to enter the Canadian territory.
Habinshuti, 58, served as the private secretary to the prime minister around August 1993, a time when the Genocide against the Tutsi was building up.
According to the Canadian authorities, Habinshuti is alleged to have attended and helped plan an April 2, 1994, meeting that was “a turning point in the history of Rwanda as it led to the assassination of Prime Minister Agathe Uwiringiyimana and the Genocide.”
It is understood that Habinshuti was a member of the extremist party, Mouvement Democratique Republicain (MDR), before and after the Genocide. He served the transitional parliament from 1999 to 2003. However, when MDR was dissolved, he joined the Liberal Party on whose ticket he unsuccessfully contested in the parliamentary election of 2008.
PL had only four seats in Parliament yet he was number 18 on the list.
Habinshuti arrived in Canada in July 2011 and claimed refugee status, but was recently ordered deported after the Immigration Appeal Division found he had been a senior official in Rwanda when the massacres began.
Information from Canada indicates that Habinshuti had been trying to immigrate to Canada since 2005, but was advised by immigration officials at the Canadian High Commission in Kenya he might be inadmissible because of his alleged involvement with the Rwandan government before the Genocide.
Canada states facts
The Canadian immigration tribunal found that he “had authority and responsibilities in the Rwandan government and exerted power and influence” in the regime.
The tribunal also said the meeting in which he was involved shortly before the Genocide was “a very important one in Rwandan politics.”
“The respondent has been credibly identified as having been the originator of such meeting in conjunction with a military officer. In light of such information, the tribunal concludes that the respondent was influential in policy making and his role was politically significant as he had the potential to exercise significant influence on the exercise of government power,” the Immigration Appeal Division wrote on its web site.
Habinshuti has filed an appeal in the Federal Court. According to Canadian authorities, he risks being deported if he loses the appeal.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni