Friday, January 13, 2012

Mugesera's Trial: Canada cannot Ignore Torture Claims in Rwanda

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In a dramatic twist of events that caught almost everyone by surprise, Leo Mugesera is still in Canada.

Although the judge has ruled that he be deported, there is a slight chance that this may not actually happen.

Mugesera's lawyer successful applied for a last minute reprieve over growing concerns that the Rwandan government uses torture against opponents. The drama continues to unfold.

Canada is justified in taking a hardline position against suspected war criminals. 17 years after the 1994 genocide, it is necessary that those who took part in the carnage are held responsible. However, this must happen in an environment that is free and fair. Unfortunately, Paul Kagame's Rwanda is not.

Those who oppose Mugesera's extradition to Rwanda are not necessarily fellow genocidaires. In fact, a number of Tutsi voices have emerged against the extradition. The reasoning is simple for those who bother to understand: we cannot correct a wrong by committing another one.

There is overwhelming evidence that Rwanda uses and encourages torture against its opponents. One dramatic example, in 2008 the US was unable to prosecute FDLR members, extradited to face trial in the murder of American tourists in Bwindi.

The US Federal court ruled that the three suspects had been subjected to torture, and the case was immediately dismissed. The sadistic forms of torture favored by the Rwandan government are elaborately described. For more about this case, click here.

Recent crackdowns against members of the opposition have shown that Rwanda is yet to discard torture. This became apparent following the incarceration of PS Imberakuri leader, Bernard Ntaganda.

It is claimed that Ntaganda is kept in dark and solitary room, where ferocious dogs are repeatedly made to bark at him. His poor medical condition is ignored. At his last court appearance, he had grown so weak that he fainted in court.

The same can be said for genocide survivor and political activist Deo Mushayidi. He is imprisoned at an undisclosed location and is not allowed visitors. Opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire is kept in a dark room, without windows.

Of course, this are only but the most prominent of the cases. But the harassment of prisoners in Rwanda is no secret. I have more personal examples to back up my claims, if anyone is interested.

Lastly, it seems that Rwanda has launched a full-blow media campaign to dissuade the U.N agency in charge of torture from arguing in Mugesera's favor. This was made clear by Rwanda's media adviser, an New Zealander known as Phil Quin.

On his Twitter he arrogantly stated: "The UN Committee Against Torture email address is cat@ohchr.org, phone +41 22 917 97 06. Let's blitz 'em". Should we not be concerned by such militaristic language?

I believe Canada should be. Canada is a pillar of democratic freedom and should not deport an individual to a country that still uses torture. Moreover, it is not too late to try Mugesera in Canada.



4 comments:

kalisa aime said...

Annie Mathieu
Le Soleil
(Québec) En faisant la sourde oreille à la demande des Nations Unies de suspendre l'avis de déportation de Léon Mugesera, l'image du Canada pourrait-elle en pâtir?
«C'est très indéfendable moralement», tranche la professeure en droit à l'Université Laval spécialisée en droit international Fannie Lafontaine.
L'experte souligne que le Canada a d'ailleurs été sévèrement critiqué pour une affaire similaire en 1992 alors que le pays a demandé la déportation d'un ressortissant iranien vers son pays d'origine.
Mais elle reconnaît néanmoins que le Canada n'est pas lié aux avis de ces instances, puisque ceux-ci ne sont pas contraignants. «Mais quand on est signataire de traités comme ceux-là et qu'on s'engage pour que les citoyens sous notre juridiction puissent porter des recours devant ce genre d'organe, il faut être de bonne foi», souligne-t-elle.
L'ancien ministre de la Justice du Canada Irwin Cotler croit de son côté que le Canada a pris une bonne décision en acceptant de déporter un citoyen déclaré inadmissible parce qu'il a incité à la haine et au génocide.
Il souligne par ailleurs avoir déjà plaidé devant le Comité contre la torture des Nations Unies et que celui-ci a pris une décision allant dans le même sens que son gouvernement. Selon M. Cotler, il ne faut donc pas nécessairement croire que lorsqu'il y a une demande de sursis, cela veut dire que les hautes instances internationales trancheront en faveur du demandeur.
M. Cotler était à la tête du ministère de la Justice au moment où la Cour suprême a déclaré, en 2005, que Léon Mugesera devait quitter le pays. Il avait cependant assuré qu'il ne le déporterait pas sans l'assurance du Rwanda qu'il ne sera pas exécuté, puisque la peine capitale était toujours en vigueur dans le pays africain.
«J'ai suivi l'évolution au Rwanda, et à mon avis il peut avoir un procès juste comme les autres. [...] Je ne crois pas qu'il y a un risque d'être torturé», a-t-il soutenu, ajoutant qu'il était important que la justice du pays puisse démontrer qu'il y a eu un génocide.
Le député libéral vient par ailleurs tout juste de coéditer un ouvrage intitulé Combattre les atrocités de masse. La responsabilité de protéger dans lequel il est question de l'importance de lutter contre l'incitation à la haine.
«Les génocides ont commencé avec les mots, pas avec les chambres à gaz», conclut-il, ajoutant que Léon Mugesera est un beau cas illustrant ses propos.

Lambert, Munyawera said...

this Man is really killer, is a genocide planner,i am sure, and very sure, that if,Justice of this unjust world fail to punish this man who planned and pronounce in Public the killing of more than a million tutsi in rwanda, (cfr his speech), the God justice will not fail to do that. i am a 100% sure that Mugesera Leon will pay the price of his immeasurable sin, that cost the life of more than a million rwandan. in addition to that, i still can't believe that we still have people like him, who still put more force in supporting this sinner. this is horrible.

Anonymous said...

Mugesera Leon is really a genocider. If you want to know it just listen to his speech before he fled to Canada. He was inciting people to kill the Tutsi in Rwanda, and actually his call was heard by his supporters and many was killed during the genocide because of him.

The crime of genocide lasts forever and he cannot hide from justice forever.

I am advising the government of Canada to deport him to Rwanda to face the justice and answer on makings of his own unhuman character.

rwandarwizarwagasabo said...

Listen to this guy's speech before you feel sorry for him!!! i don't even umderstand why it took 16 years for canadians court to send him back.. all they needed to do is listen to the speech..Let him go back..