This week the Minister of Justice released the much awaited Mucyo Report. The report, a product of a two year investigation into the role of France in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda, made international headlines minutes after it was released.
The report implicates more than thirty members of the French political, military and diplomatic elite. Minister Tharcise Karugarama told BBC that the report should be analysed by the French so that they may take necessary action against their leaders.
It is however perplexing that one French parliamentarian speaking to BBC said that the RPF was fighting a democratic government and that is why they decided to offer military, political and diplomatic support to the Habyarimana dictatorship that planned and implemented the Genocide.
Many have argued that the French authorities opted to support the genocidal government because they saw the RPF as a group of English speakers who would serve to erase French hegemony in a Franco-phone country.
The French have been known to allege that they protected lives and others did not. What they did was to shield the perpetrators of the Genocide in the vanquished government and evacuate them out of the way of justice. Even now, most wanted Genocide suspects remain at large due to the protection and patronage they receive from France.
It is and has long been common knowledge that they provided training to the interahamwe and the ex FAR. What the report has done is to accuse the listed French officials of the crimes.
But what will be the consequences of this report? Ideally, the thirty three French officials will be prosecuted, even posthumously for those who have since died, like the former French President François Mitterrand.
But will this be possible and if so which courts will preside over such trials?
According to reports, Rwanda is studying the possibility of according municipal law international jurisdiction. This, if passed by the legislature, would be a radical but welcome addition to the legal regime in Rwanda.
It will help to bring to justice international actors who participated in the genocide in 1994.
Moreover it is important that people, who are not necessarily Rwandan but for reasons best known to them, are engaged in acts of revisionism and negationism in regard to what happened here in 1994, are also held accountable for their acts. By giving Rwandan municipal law, international jurisdiction, one hopes, that such would be dealt with appropriately.
What is apparent is that France’s peers in the game of international relations, that is, its fellow superpowers, have an obligation to press France to act upon the findings of this report.
It is interesting to ask whether the report will make the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, which has in the past few weeks been discussing the indictment of Sudanese president Omar El Bashir over war crimes in the volatile Darfur region.
How actors in the international system like the UN’s Security Council respond to this report will go a long way in explaining to the rest of the world especially African and other poor countries what their position in the international justice system is.
To date international justice has been seen to be directed against those who are poor and play a peripheral role in world affairs.
The Mucyo Report should be a watershed as far as international justice is concerned. The international justice system can use this report to redeem itself and show an unbiased approach when it comes to dealing with international crimes.