Rwanda: A victim of a charade


Last week, Germany became the unwitting accomplice in executing an “arrest warrant” against Rwanda’s Chief of Protocol, Col. Rose Kabuye, who had traveled ahead of her president and the rest of the entourage to make final preparations for Kagame’s state visit to Germany. In a blatant act of disregard towards diplomatic protocol and convention, she was arrested when reaching Frankfurt.

Germany put her foot in deeply and as no surprise African nations and the African Union have all not just protested the ill considered German move to become a lackey for a French judge, but relations between Germany and many African nations have subsequently taken a hit which will take long to recover from. This is more so as a genocide suspect, for whom Rwanda had issued an international arrest warrant, was recently let go by Germany, instead of surrendering the suspect to either Rwanda or the international tribunal in Arusha.

The events of April 1994 in Rwanda will undoubtedly never be forgotten. As the million people genocide was perpetrated against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu population in Rwanda, the then person in charge for the UN operation in Rwanda, none other than Kofi Annan, made a figure fit for a Greek classical tragedy with his dithering attitude – some even say bias.

But worse, the French contingent deployed in Rwanda played an even more sinister role at the time. Many allegations were made about passing intelligence to the Hutu militias and the disintegrating Rwandan army, and more allegations were made about dumping materials and ammunition when suddenly flying out and leaving a slaughterhouse for human beings behind. That appalling behavior itself was subject to a Rwandese Commission of Inquiry and it is understood that at least two dozen indictments are due out any time from now against leading former and current French politicians and military personnel for alleged complicity with the Hutu killer militias.

The UN eventually formed a tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (based in Arusha), to bring the culprits to justice, and many have already been found guilty of their crimes against humanity and genocide.

However, a French judge took it upon himself to charge almost a dozen high ranking Rwandan government officials, which would include President Kagame if he did not enjoy immunity from prosecution as sitting head of state, accusing them of masterminding and executing the shooting down of the Rwandan presidential aircraft upon return from Tanzania, in which the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi were killed, together with the French crew. Based on that the judge claimed jurisdiction over the case and issued indictments.

It was never very likely that Germany, deep in a diplomatic hole now, would have sought a way out of their bind and eventually on Wednesday extradited Rose to France.

Focus will now be to prove her innocence in court over the allegations made, and I have no doubt that she will be found innocent in the end. As and when that happens, the responsible French judge should not just resign but also be prosecuted for abuse of office, but that will be a story for another day.