Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Rwandan Congress of Canada calls upon the Canadian government to cancel the deportation of Leon Mugesera to Rwanda and try him in Canada

By Emmanuel Hakizimana, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Rwandan Congress of Canada 
Montreal, January 6, 2012

Also available in French.

The Canadian government is preparing to expel a Rwandan national, Leon Mugesera, to his home country on January 12, 2012 where he will be tried for crimes against humanity. In doing so, Canada is violating international treaties. Indeed, the Canadian government cannot deport a person to a country where he/she may run into serious risks. The fact that Rwanda has abolished the death penalty following heavy international pressures does not change anything about Leon Mugesera. First, the Rwandan government continues to practice torture as this has been attested by very recent testimonies. Second, non-governmental organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that Rwanda has neither the means nor the political will to ensure a fair trial. These organizations also believe that the conditions of detention amount to inhuman and degrading treatments and accuse the Rwandan government of misusing the judiciary to oppress political opposition.

Despite the guarantees provided by Rwanda to the Canadian government, it will be difficult even impossible for Mugesera to produce witnesses because people who live in Rwanda will not dare to speak out while those who are abroad will not dare to return to Rwanda to testify.

For all these reasons, the Rwandan Congress of Canada pleads for a trial on Canadian soil. Such an option would allow Canada to fulfill its international obligations in the fight against impunity. It is in this spirit that in 2000 Canada adopted a universal jurisdiction law that allows it to judge on its territory people suspected of crimes against humanity. Two Rwandan nationals have already been charged on the basis of this law; why not Mugesera? Canada should not circumvent legal procedures and run away from its international commitments simply because it would like to dispose of a bulky host.

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