12 November 2012

Rwanda: France ?a Haven for Genocide Fugitives? Says Activist

The French government is not fully committed to bring to justice genocide fugitives on its soil, a French activist association said.

Committed to tracking down genocide fugitives residing in France, the association, Collectif des Parties Civiles Pour le Rwanda (CPCR), believes that over 25 individuals who participated in massacres during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, go about their business in the European country with no fear of being arrested.

"France has become a haven for genocide criminals, who have become so influential, because of their financial power that the government and the public no longer mind about them and their activities," Alain Gauthier, the President of CPCR said in an interview with The New Times last Friday.

Gauthier was in Kigali last week seeking for testimonies from witnesses and victims on particular genocide suspects in France, whose names he preferred to keep confidential on grounds of professional investigations.

"This is not justice to the families which lost their loved ones. That is why we will not stop at anything to ensure that each and every genocide fugitive hiding in France is finally brought to justice with or without the government's help," Gauthier said.

"We have already written complaints to France on specific individuals and are seeking for evidence and testimonies from survivors and witnesses."

He observed that the French government's position in 1994 may be the cause of its reluctance to pursue genocide fugitives, adding that France should move on from the past.

"In 1994 the French government supported Habyarimana's government against the RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front); but when the war was lost and the genocide stopped, many government officials who aided the genocide fled to France. As it is now, the French government finds it very difficult to pursue some former allies," Gauthier said.

"It is 18 years now and now they must help in identifying these people and help to bring them to justice."

Earlier in January this year, CPCR pressured the French government to extradite Hyacinthe Nsengiyumva Rafiki, a former minister of public works, suspected to be one of the masterminds of the Genocide.

Rafiki was arrested in 2010 in Paris under an Interpol Red Notice. But in spite of sustained pressure for justice, he was not extradited.

France remains the only European country that has failed to extradite a single suspect since 1994.

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