The 2014 trial of Pascal Simbikangwa in Paris: 20
years on from Rwanda and he’s finally been caught
and facing trial.
Inte...
Rwanda genocide trial opens in
France
 Pascal Simbikangwa, a 54-year old former intelligence
chief, faces charges of comp...
Pascal Simbikangwa
 Is said to have been a member of an inner circle of power in
Rwanda that devised genocide as a planne...
The significance of the case
 The case highlights the criticism of France’s reaction to the
genocide, and the slow progre...
What others had to say
 “We’re not here in our own name, but in the name
of the million victims who were exterminated in
...
Criticisms of France’s reaction to
the genocide
 France had close ties to the government of Rwandan
president Juvenal Hab...
Further criticisms
 According to a 1996 French law, Rwandans suspected of
being involved in the genocide can be tried in ...
France’s secret policy towards
Rwanda
 The policy was devised in secret, with no accountability
from press or parliament ...
Witnesses
 Simbikangwa’s defence lawyers planned to argue for an
acquittal, but have expressed concern that the hearing
w...
Further evidence to be given in the trial
 There will also evidence from the results of
investigations into the Simbikang...
Opening the floodgates.
For once this is a good thing!
The Simbikangwa trial could be the first of many.
Another 27 cases ...
Other information
 The UN tribunal on the Rwanda genocide and several
western countries including Belgium – a former colo...
Victoire?
 The impact of the Simbikangwa trial will be felt far beyond the
courtroom. It is hoped that for the French pub...
In a rare step, the trial will be filmed
with recordings available at the trial’s
conclusion.
French hope
French President Francois Hollande hopes to strengthen
diplomatic and economic ties with Rwanda. This is
viewe...
From victim and saviour to
perpetrator
 Don’t you find it hypocritical that Paul Kagame
criticises the French over their ...
Even more disgraceful is the lack of
international action or voice
 The USA and the UK were unflinching in their support
...
 Many of these Hutus could be regarded as a legitimate
enemy. But many were not, including the thousands
of women and chi...
 It was right that the west’s policy should be guided by
guilt over the original genocide. It was right to support
Rwanda...
Virtual silence on Rwanda’s
involvement in Congo
 Instead of criticism Kagame has received praise.
 Bill Clinton continu...
My thoughts on Kagame’s support
 “You cannot be serious!?” (John McEnroe)
 A sound economic policy hardly justifies the ...
CSR
 CSR is usually associated in the corporate world where
businesses strive for a good, fair and sustainable society by...
Just to end...
 At the same time I came across the Paris genocide case in the news last Thursday evening, I
also came acr...
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The 2014 trial of Pascal Simbikangwa

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International Criminal Justice.

Looking at current issues regarding genocide, in particular, the case of Pascal Simbikangwa in Paris over his involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

I gave this presentation in an early International Criminal Justice seminar and the trial was in its early stages (second week of the trial). The trial has now reached a verdict with Pascal Simbikangwa being found guilty by the French court for his part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and he has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

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The 2014 trial of Pascal Simbikangwa

  1. 1. The 2014 trial of Pascal Simbikangwa in Paris: 20 years on from Rwanda and he’s finally been caught and facing trial. International Criminal Justice Thursday 13th February 2014 Does it also bring us one step closer to the truth about France’s role in the Rwandan Genocide?
  2. 2. Rwanda genocide trial opens in France  Pascal Simbikangwa, a 54-year old former intelligence chief, faces charges of complicity in genocide and complicity in war crimes. He could face a life sentence with a mandatory 22 years behind bars if convicted after the seven-week trial in Paris. We are currently in the second week of the trial.  It’s the first trial in France over Rwanda’s genocide – 20 years after a killing spree left at least half a million people dead.  According to court documents, he identified himself to the court as “Pascal Safari”, a combination of is real name and his alias, Senyamuhara Safari.
  3. 3. Pascal Simbikangwa  Is said to have been a member of an inner circle of power in Rwanda that devised genocide as a planned political campaign. Developed by Hutu ideologies, it was intended to prevent a power-sharing system that was to include the minority Tutsi.  Civil parties to the case allege that Simbikangwa, who came from the same town as Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, and was allegedly a relative, incited the army to identify and slaughter Tutsis.  A captain in the Rwandan gendarmerie until 1986, when he was paralysed in a car accident, Simbikangwa – a fanatic who hoped to create what was known as a “pure Hutu state” – worked for the security services in the capital Kigali. He was eventually found hiding out in the French department of Mayotte, an island group in the Indian Ocean, with 3,000 forged identity papers.  He denies all the charges, and his lawyer claims he is a scapegoat.
  4. 4. The significance of the case  The case highlights the criticism of France’s reaction to the genocide, and the slow progress of justice after the slaughter of at least 500,000 people over 100 days.  Leslie Haskell, the international justice counsel for Human Rights Watch, said of the case: “the trial in Paris will be an important moment in the global fight against impunity.”  He noted the creation of a special war crimes unit in the French justice system in 2o12: “France now has the tools it needs to ensure that perpetrators of the world’s most serious crimes don’t escape justice or find a safe haven in the country.”
  5. 5. What others had to say  “We’re not here in our own name, but in the name of the million victims who were exterminated in Rwanda in 1994,” Alain Gauthier, co-founder of a Rwanda victims’ group that that is party to the case, told journalists.
  6. 6. Criticisms of France’s reaction to the genocide  France had close ties to the government of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu who was killed when his plane was shot down in 1994. Thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in retaliation.  Critics say that France was slow to act out of a combination of self-delusion and unwillingness to face up to bad decisions. Before the killings, French troops armed and trained the Rwandan army. During the genocide, they allegedly helped radical Hutus flee. Later, France took in a number of exiles who were allowed to live freely.
  7. 7. Further criticisms  According to a 1996 French law, Rwandans suspected of being involved in the genocide can be tried in a French court.  Fined a decade ago by the European Court of Human Rights for dragging its heels on cases filed since 1995, France created a special genocide investigation unit two years ago that has studied a number of legal complaints against alleged perpetrators.  Following the genocide, current President Paul Kagame accused France of training and arming the Hutu militias, a charge France has always denied, spurring a diplomatic freeze.
  8. 8. France’s secret policy towards Rwanda  The policy was devised in secret, with no accountability from press or parliament and largely determined within the confines of a special office in the president’s Elysee Palace known as the Africa Unit. It operated through a network of military officers, politicians, diplomats, businessmen and senior intelligence operatives. At its heart was President Francois Mitterand, who had operated through senior army officers: General Christian Quesnot, Admiral Jacques Lanxade and General Jean-Pierre Huchon.  The trial may well show the French public just how appalling its secret policy towards Rwanda really was.
  9. 9. Witnesses  Simbikangwa’s defence lawyers planned to argue for an acquittal, but have expressed concern that the hearing will be lopsided in part because of the difficulty in finding witnesses who will speak out in their client’s defence.  More than 50 witnesses including journalists, historians, farmers, security guards and intelligence officials are expected to be called to testify, nearly all by the prosecution. During the proceedings, several films are to be shown, including a 2004 documentary on the genocide called Kill Them All.
  10. 10. Further evidence to be given in the trial  There will also evidence from the results of investigations into the Simbikangwa case at the ICTR, and details from investigations from Rwandan authorities.  It is hoped that this along with the combined testimony from the array of witnesses assembled will put paid to a campaign of denial waged by defence lawyers at the ICTR who claimed the killing in Rwanda was not the result of a conspiracy but was somehow “spontaneous”.
  11. 11. Opening the floodgates. For once this is a good thing! The Simbikangwa trial could be the first of many. Another 27 cases linked to Rwanda’s genocide have been lined up by the Paris court’s war crimes unit, including one focusing on Hayarimana’s widow.
  12. 12. Other information  The UN tribunal on the Rwanda genocide and several western countries including Belgium – a former colonial overseer of Rwanda - have brought many Rwandans to justice.  Officials say the UN international criminal tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, will close later this year, and is only hearing appeals.  Documents from the Tanzania tribunal show France over the years handed over only three suspects – a fraction of the number of cases waiting in French courts – this illustrates the previous lack of cooperation from France to help bring Rwandans to justice.
  13. 13. Victoire?  The impact of the Simbikangwa trial will be felt far beyond the courtroom. It is hoped that for the French public the nature of the genocide will be laid bare, and that at long last a debate about France and Rwanda will begin.  The French public may not be so bothered about the ‘Hollande affair’ but the same may not apply to the country’s involvement in what can only be viewed as the 20th century’s fastest genocide.  The trial is likely to see intense public scrutiny of one of the great scandals of the past century – France’s role Rwandan genocide, which for 20 years journalists and activists have tried so hard to expose.  The trial signals the end of France as a safe haven for genocidaries.  20 years is too long but better late than never…although the case is still ongoing so we cannot comment on anything for sure until the end of the seven weeks and a verdict has been reached…  As they say in sport, “it’s not over until the final whistle”
  14. 14. In a rare step, the trial will be filmed with recordings available at the trial’s conclusion.
  15. 15. French hope French President Francois Hollande hopes to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties with Rwanda. This is viewed as crucial for maintaining stability in the region.
  16. 16. From victim and saviour to perpetrator  Don’t you find it hypocritical that Paul Kagame criticises the French over their involvement in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 when his forces are directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands (some say millions) in neighbouring Congo.  Rwanda helped create and arm a Congolese rebel group, M23, led by Bertrand Bisimwa, who is wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges.
  17. 17. Even more disgraceful is the lack of international action or voice  The USA and the UK were unflinching in their support when, in 1996, Rwanda invaded Zaire to clear the sprawling UN refugee camps that house the genocidal forces running murderous cross-border raids and threatening to kick-start a new genocide. That invasion was justified – support for Kagame should have been tempered by the action of his army, which hunted down and massacred Hutus who failed to return to Rwanda.
  18. 18.  Many of these Hutus could be regarded as a legitimate enemy. But many were not, including the thousands of women and children slaughtered by the Rwanda n military and its proxies. This was also the start of the mass rape by armed groups that has since plagued eastern Congo.  The Rwandan military then turned to the extremely lucrative plunder of Congo’s valuable minerals. This was the point at which the US and Britain should have made a stand. Instead they turned a blind eye.
  19. 19.  It was right that the west’s policy should be guided by guilt over the original genocide. It was right to support Rwanda’s reconstruction. But Rwanda’s future and the stability of central Africa have not been served US and UK’s years of unquestioning support of Kagame on the grounds that he has a good record on reconstruction and development (in expanding rural healthcare, getting children into school and building programmes to help small-scale family farmers), while all but ignoring what he is doing across Rwanda’s western border.
  20. 20. Virtual silence on Rwanda’s involvement in Congo  Instead of criticism Kagame has received praise.  Bill Clinton continues to defend him, describing Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time” and Rwanda as “the best-run nation in Africa”.  Tony Blair called Kagame a “visionary leader” and a friend. He said allowances had to be made for the consequences of the genocide and suggested Kagame’s economic record outweighed other concerns: “I’m a believer in and a supported of Paul Kagame. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognise that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.”
  21. 21. My thoughts on Kagame’s support  “You cannot be serious!?” (John McEnroe)  A sound economic policy hardly justifies the years of abuses in Congo!!!!  The situation in Congo is not good for Rwanda’s future because it is contributing to the very instability it says it intervened in Congo to prevent.  After 16 years of invasions, insurgencies and trauma, a generation is emerging in eastern Congo that blames Rwanda for its suffering. And when those Congolese talk about Rwandans in this context, they often mean Tutsis.  Although a peace deal was signed last December, I fear it’s only a matter of time before another genocide takes place…I hope I’m wrong!  So what next?  As the French would say “Je ne sais pas”, I don’t know; only time will tell….
  22. 22. CSR  CSR is usually associated in the corporate world where businesses strive for a good, fair and sustainable society by engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies may be doing great things in the world but when they are found out to be involved in something negative then they are ultimately a Company Saying Rubbish. i.e. Coca-Cola – have made great developments in sustainability and are yet responsible or not doing anything to protect its employees from being beaten and murdered in countries where they manufacture and distribute.  In the context of International Law, CSR = Countries Social Responsibility? It can be argued that in a lot of cases CSR should stand for Countries Saying Rubbish…  Actions speak louder than words!!!!
  23. 23. Just to end...  At the same time I came across the Paris genocide case in the news last Thursday evening, I also came across a news article on BBC News' website, "Alex Owumi: I played basketball for Gaddafi"  An American playing for a basketball team in Libya owned by Gaddafi's son.  Libya revolution came about and government soliders raped a little girl in the same appartment block as Alex.  Does rape or sexual violence constitute a crime of genocide?  Rome Statute Article 6 (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part  Article 6 (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group  Rape does fall under both provisions, although the latter on the condition that the victim later refuses to procreate.  HOWEVER, the crime of genocide is directed at the collective, NOT THE INDIVIDUAL.  Is the girl a member of a protected group?  National - No  Ethnic - No  Racial - No  Religious group - No  Rape and sexual violence does constitute a crime of genocide but not in this particular case.

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