Israel, a country that saw more than Six million of its people perish in the holocaust has recommended France to put more efforts in tracking and bringing to court suspects of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
France has offered safe haven to several individuals who are alleged to have perpetrated the Genocide against Tutsi where more than 1million Tutsi perished.
They include Laurent Bukibaruta who was Prefet of Gikongoro prefecture and Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka who was responsible of Saint Famille church in Kigali before and during the Genocide against Tutsi. He is still serving as a priest in France.
Former First Lady of Rwanda Agathe Kanziga who, according to Rwanda records, does not have a clean file is also in France, together with other senior officials under her inner circle – akazu which organized the Genocide and executed it.
For the last 23 years, Rwanda kept pushing France to arrest the suspects and try them or extradite them to Rwanda, civil society in France also did the same, but France does not do much.
Israel finds it high time for France to stop such indifference.
“Recent reports have claimed that more can be done to bring to justice individuals allegedly implicated in the Rwandan Genocide, some of them currently residing in France. Without prejudging the veracity of these claims or the circumstances of each case, Israel can certainly identify with the need to make sure those responsible for Genocide do not escape justice,” part of a note from Mr. Brian E. Frenkel, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Affairs Advisor reads.
“We, therefore, recommend that France increase its efforts to help ensure accountability of suspected perpetrators of the Genocide in Rwanda.”
Frenkel and the Israel delegation are currently holding the 29th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, which France delegates have also attended.
Other countries that have added their voice to the recommendation include Guyana, Kenya, Iran, Mozambique, Namibia and of course Rwanda.
UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all United Nations Member States.
The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.
Meanwhile, Ibuka, the umbrella association of Genocide survivors association, France section has appreciated reports under UPR which challenge France to stop denying justice to Genocide survivors while refusing to arrest and try perpetrators.
The report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Commission by Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), a strong advocacy group operating from France.
“France has failed to comply with its international legal obligations in respect of the Genocide against the Tutsi,” reads part of Ibuka communiqué.
“All UN Member States are obliged to ensure full compliance with their international obligations to punish perpetrators of Genocide and to ensure that victims’ rights to the truth are given proper effect. Words of condemnation by States are important, but they are hollow and illusory if given no practical effect.”
France has remained adamant regarding the case of Genocide suspects on her land. A number of France officials are themselves suspected to have supported the Genocide while offering military training for the Interahamwe militia, an armed wing of the ruling party – MRND which prepared the Genocide in Rwanda.
“The result is that France’s role has never fully been brought to light, leaving the victims still yearning for the truth to which they are entitled. Establishing the truth would doubtless contribute to reconciliation and good relations between the peoples of France and Rwanda and others,” Ibuka said.
According to Laurent Nkongoli, a practicing lawyer in Kigali, all country members have right to make comments about human rights in the fellow country members.
He said, “If Israel has for example done enough lobbying to have enough members that can support this submission, a resolution can be taken that France is doing little in trying the genocide suspects, and they make a recommendation that put more pressure on France.”
For Nkongoli, it’s up to Rwandan delegates to join hands with Israelis to convince other members to vote for a strong recommendation that would challenge France to get out of its indifference about Rwandan case.
Civil society, the human right commission of every country and government officials attend the UPR.
The current UPR will run from January 15th through January 26th.