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05 January 2012


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Philippe Larochelle

I have been working at the ICTR for the last ten years. I was in Rwanda this December and I have been following the political situation of that country for all these years. I would like to make the following comment with regards to the decision of sending Mr. Mugesera to Rwanda, and the public support I have perceived for that decision.

The level of ignorance with regards to the current socio-political situation of that country is distressing. Yet, many recognized specialists such as Filip Reyntjens, Susan Thomson, and Human Rights Watch, where Allsion Desforges was working, have denounced the situation in Rwanda and even opposed deportations to that country. Even high ranking officers of the RPF, such as Théogène Rudasingwa and Gérald Gahima have denounced the dictature of the RPF since the end of the genocide in July 1994, and the complete and blatant disregard of the authorities for basic human rights.

Have people already forgotten that Rwanda hijacked Agnès Ntamabyarilo in Zambia and forcefully transferred her to Rwanda where she claims she was tortured? Are people ignoring the fact that this country has organized countless mocked trials to silence any dissenting voice? According to Reporters Sans Frontières, Rwanda in ranked the 169 worse country out of 178 on the Press freedom index.,1034.html

Rwanda is intimidating NGOs,, and suspected of having organized extra-territorial killings of dissidents.; .

Despite all of that, countries such as Canada and the USA prefer to close their eyes on the severe abuses of the Rwandan regime. The decision of Canadian authorities to deport Mr. Mugesera in that country is nothing less than repugnant, inasmuch as Canada could simply try him here, without putting his life, security and presumption of innocence in jeopardy.

Can Canadian authorities seriously consider that he can have a fair trial for accusations of having incited to genocide in that country? Any potential Defence witness is likely to be labelled as a negationist under their criminal laws, which have been denounced as being to broad and vague.

Rob Currie

I was happy to post here Mr. Larochelle's comment, which is a reply to Professor Lafontaine's blog post. I feel it should be pointed out that Mr. Larochelle is counsel to Mr. Mugesera. I don't know if that was the case on 6 January when Mr. Larochelle submitted his comment, only that it was reported by the Globe & Mail on 12 January.

Annie Laliberté

The subject of my Ph.D thesis is postgenocide Rwanda and the medias. I spent a whole year fieldworking in Kigali where I had the chance to attend gacacas, to visit a prison and, among others, to talk with local journalists fearing for their life. You suggest it should be pointed out that Mr. Larochelle is counsel to Mr. Mugesera... Well, who cares? At least, he knows what he's talking about because he spent time investigating in Rwanda! I agree with him : the ignorance is killing critical sense

Rob Currie

Thank you for your comment. The short answer to your question "who cares?" is "lawyers do." I don't know if you are a lawyer and I don't mean to sound condescending by saying this. However, the readership of this blog is primarily lawyers.

I was not suggesting that Mr. Larochelle said anything that was incorrect or improper. He is entitled to advocate for his client (perhaps former client now, based on the media reports) publicly, and I'm happy to provide this blog as a platform for him to do so.

However, when a lawyer is expressing views on the legal position of an individual, it is relevant that the individual is the lawyer's client. It is something the audience hearing the lawyer's remarks would want to know. I simply provided that information.

Annie Laliberté

Fortunately, we agree on this : despite Mr. Larochelle's status as former counsel to Mr. Mugesera, his sociopolitical argument worth to be taken into consideration. Prior to juridical act, there is a sociopolitical context : fear of a regime may have an impact on capacity of witnessing. I may add that the notion of truth is culturally rooted, that the Kinyarwanda is a very rich and complexe language hard to be properly translated. That complexity can lead to political manipulation under an authoritarian regime. A multidisciplinary approach is essential in adressing the case of Mugesera, even in a blog dedicated primarly to lawyers. I think it would be relevant to reveal that a researcher from another discipline (anthropology) came to the same conclusion as Mr. Larochelle's.

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