Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Similar Items Related Subjects: 24 Front patriotique rwandais. Tutsi African people -- Crimes against -- Rwanda -- History -- 20th century. Hutu African people -- Rwanda -- Politics and government. Genocide -- Rwanda. International crimes -- Rwanda. Hutu Peuple d'Afrique -- Rwanda -- Politique et gouvernement.
This judgment put to rest the numerous attempts by the defense counsels in Arusha who denied the existence of the genocide against the Tutsi before this Tribunal. However, it did not stop the criminal fertile imagination of the Negationists outside the court of Arusha. At the height of the genocide, French leaders at the highest level of the State became the first to preach Negationism.
This is a unilateral account of the massacre. In those countries, people have always killed; massacres are not a new thing. On that note, the press conference ended. I then left with one of my colleagues from the Belgian Radio. Holding his microphone, he approached the President who was already about two meters away from all the journalists who were trying to reach him. You see that idiot of a journalist? I gave him the right answer. My colleague from RTBF recorded that sentence and he played it to the other journalists.
There is no doubt that the Government of Rwanda which was ruling the country in is directly responsible for the genocide against the Tutsi and political assassinations carried out at the time. Immediately after their defeat, in July , those former leaders embarked on absolute denial of the crimes they had just committed in the country. On the whole, this is the view held by all the leaders of the government that committed genocide and their armed forces.
Until today, these former leaders, friends of France, continue to brandish Negationism as their last weapon. The other group of Negationists includes Hutu intellectuals and officials who do not accept to lose exclusive powers founded on ethnic monopoly to which they were used since These former officials who fled the country since and in the years after demonize RPF, accusing it of all sorts of ills, while, in fact, they are motivated by an ideology and mono-ethnic feelings which they are unable to shed. Together with the perpetrators of the genocide in exile, this group is the active core which spreads Negationism under the pretext of political opposition.
Authors and writers, mainly French and Belgians hailing from various circles, especially from academic and media circles, immediately after the genocide was stopped, embarked on publishing Negationist writings with unprecedented virulence. Though he does not deny openly the existence of the genocide against the Tutsi, REYNTJENS opted for a Negationism centered on blurring the truth of facts  , the equal sharing of responsibilities and accusing equally RPF and the Government that had carried out the genocide .
The Negationism of Mrs BILOA is allegedly linked to her friendship and the sympathy she felt towards the President who had come to her rescue at a critical period in her career. It should be noted that he was granted temporary release and on parole on medical grounds. He produced medical certificates from an American psychiatric clinic proving that he was suffering from mental disorders and that he had been receiving medical care from this clinic for some time.
One then wonders how a mentally sick person has been authorized to argue cases before an international criminal court like ICTR and give law lectures in a renowned university in the United States! The Negationist arguments of these individuals have been appearing regularly in the press and in bookshops, in conferences and seminars in Europe, in America and elsewhere. Notwithstanding this campaign, the genocide against the Tutsi has been recognized internationally and, today, it has been confirmed worldwide.
Consequently, Negationist lobbies have realized that they needed to sharpen further their weapons, change their strategies and use other means. They have thus resorted to using new methods for manipulating the courts in Europe so as to deny the existence of the genocide, by accusing the authorities in Rwanda who put an end to the genocide. Two revealing cases of Negationism using the courts for political ends appeared in France and Spain. Their initiators are trying to influence other States.
First anomaly: the charge was submitted three years after the event, which would justifiably make one wonder why such a long silence and the sudden awakening to lodge the complaint in ! It should be said that was a crucial year which was characterized by the simultaneous proceedings of several cases of some important perpetrators of the genocide at the ICTR, the growing questioning of the responsibility of France in the genocide and the request that she should admit her mistakes.
It was then necessary for her to react in order to cloud the issue. This is neither by accident. In the same month of March , a group of French intellectuals called for the formation of a National Commission of Inquiry with the objective of establishing the responsibilities of France in the genocide . He breached all the rules of procedure governing judicial investigations. It is meant to clear France of its responsibilities in Rwanda and dwells on an ideal culprit. There is nothing legal in this investigation. It is a political case.
His accusations are baseless; the case has nothing solid in it. Nothing in it, no serious charges. It is staggering. My clients and I have never seen anything the like! For many years, the family of my client decided to remain in the background. This story was very painful. We had to mourn first. Then, his children wanted to know. But then, this is the worst of all. We got ourselves manipulated .
What is not said is that behind the manipulations Mr. This once again is a sign of his political commitments which reveal lack of impartiality in his duties as a judge, more especially in the case of Rwanda. Like in France, the same Negationist lobbies manipulated the courts in Spain, using the same documents and the same witnesses.
The complaint led to an indictment published on 26 February , accusing forty political and military individuals of the State of Rwanda. This Forum is a group of individuals from Spanish catholic circles of Opus Dei who supported strongly the Government of Habyarimana.
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Negationism is at the core of the indictment by Judge MERELLES and is characterized by the rewriting of the history of the genocide, criminalizing the victims and clearing of the killers. Both in the carrying out of the investigation and in the writing of its conclusions, Judge MERELLES simply repeated without counter-checking, the arbitrary allegations made by political opponents, some of whom are among the perpetrators of the genocide, or by embittered defectors from RPF, without the necessary verification to establish the truth of the facts.
The investigation was carried out in breach of the fundamental rules of procedure which protect the rights of the accused. The mandatory rules for the prosecution and the defense were totally abused, as well as the confidentiality of the investigation, representing a serious prejudice to the presumption of innocence of the accused Rwandan personalities.
How can an army with renowned discipline be at the same time a terrorist organization? Such a statement would require that MERELLES base himself on RPF founding texts, on numerous statements and writings of its leaders, on demands of RPF during the negotiations of the Arusha Accords, on its action programs, in order to prove the veracity of this alleged criminal objective. How then can they accept to be members of a criminal organization which advocates the extermination of the Hutu?
This means that MERELLES admits, in spite of himself, the existence of the intention to eliminate the Tutsi, as well as the conditions for the possibility of committing ethnic based killings. As far as he is concerned, indeed, genocide against the Tutsi is not a deliberate act but a legitimate reaction by extremist Hutu. And yet, genocide requires first and foremost, the intention to commit it . The authors of the Report say that among the criteria they used to validate the information they gathered, was that this information had to be supported by at least two independent sources .
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They do not explain how they established the independence of one source against the other, or how they assessed the credibility of each source. What is clear is that several individuals and NGOs who were used as witnesses did not meet the criteria of objectivity, independence and impartiality and cannot, consequently, be considered as credible and trustworthy. Considering the very short time available to the investigators to carry out field work eleven months , they were content to collect and refer to documents belonging to international organizations, particularly those of Human Right Watch and Amnesty International , and those of some Congolese NGOs, mostly from the Catholic Church.
But these NGOs are themselves composed of and are sympathetic with Negationists and genocide ideologists who have infiltrated them to the extent that they hold leading positions in their policy organs. These Negationists have then managed to feed UN experts with disinformation and propaganda they have excelled in since But for many years, HRW has been characterized by a biased vision of the political situation in Rwanda and should not, for this, be taken as a key reference. This raises the real question of reliability. Our own researches have led us to observe that HRW has been infiltrated by some Rwandan and foreign extremists who use this NGO to spread their personal opinions.
This is the man who today represents HRW on the African continent. Could this individual be unbiased with regard to Rwanda? Very doubtful. Right from its inception, the Group initiated several activities, including the publication of a position leaflet on topical issues. It maintained collaboration relations with international NGOs involved in human rights, cooperation and development . Some members publish also some documents.
Through his relations with Belgian and French Catholic circles, without any mention of the genocide, he sent out circulars to the West in which he demanded an unconditional dialogue between the Government of Rwanda and the genocide perpetrators and an end to the financial assistance to the Government of Rwanda. They fear being thrown in prison on simple accusations based on baseless charges, or being killed while trying to enter their properties.
According to objective witnesses living in Rwanda, killings continue and are even on the increase. It is estimated that between five and ten thousand people are killed in Rwanda every month. And refugees continue to come. There is no other peaceful solution to this tragedy except holding a meeting of all Rwandans so as to reach a negotiated and balanced political solution.
Much work and many contacts made last November gave hope of the possibility of such a meeting. But this hope was dashed by some financial aid from some Western countries to the Government of Kigali. One is tempted to question the reason of such an aid granted to a minority which took power through arms. These abductions and killings target mostly Hutu intellectuals. This is in fact what Burundi did in and continues to do today . I agree totally that during the tragedy, the Hutu in opposition were not killed for being Hutu but as people in opposition, but they too died.
And how many of them died also in the years ? True, this was during the war, but they too died, and not only soldiers! She worked with various NGOs in Rwanda. Since then, she has made repeated false and libelous accusations against the Government of Rwanda. When one analyses the evidence she adduced in the indictment of Judge MERELLES accusing the Rwandan Army for crimes against the Hutu, one notice that her evidence lies on arbitrarily fabricated lies in order to mislead the good faith of those who have no sociological knowledge of the Great Lakes region.
The truth is that the two provinces of DRC, i. North and South Kivu, are inhabited by Congolese who speak Kinyarwanda. It is therefore erroneous to rely only on the linguistic criterion to claim that all those who speak Kinyarwanda are soldiers of the Rwandan Army and that, therefore, it is them who killed the Hutu. FDLR are an extremist militia based in DRC, composed of Hutu fighters from criminal organizations which participated in the genocide against the Tutsi in Their major objective is to use force to take the power they lost in Rwanda, to wipe out totally the Tutsi to complete the genocide and to eliminate the Hutu who work in the Government and in other institutions of Government.
Their entire political and military structure is geared towards this ultimate goal. It may sound incredible that they are Negationist Tutsi with regard to the genocide which affected members of their own ethnic group. This is however the terrible reality. A fresh step has just been made by a core of four former Tutsi officers, both civilian and military, who left Rwanda to avoid legal action for offences they committed relating to embezzlement of public funds, abuse of power and corruption.
These four committed various offences in Rwanda. When they learnt that some legal proceedings were being prepared against them, they made the first move and fled the country. Since then, they have been fabricating all sorts of lies against the Head of State whom they accuse of all sorts of ills without any proof: corrupt dictator, thief, torturer, and many more. Motivated by hatred against President Paul KAGAME, these individuals have now associated themselves with extremist groups who continue to nurture the intention of returning to Rwanda by force to complete the genocide.
These groups preach the genocide ideology and carry out terrorist and criminal activities, especially in DRC and in Rwanda through targeted infiltrations. The leaders and members of these groups are well known for their anti-Tutsi position and for their clear Negationist attitude. The above mentioned foursome former Tutsi officials of RPF have since associated themselves with these extremist groups, thus following the same ideological, terrorist and Negationist course The foursome have been spreading in the media writing to incite ethnic hatred, social upheaval and genocide.
Whoever lives in Rwanda knows the present real situation in the country: all Rwandans are considered on merit; there is no ethnic based discrimination, both factually and legally. The positions of KAYUMBA and his friends are extremely dangerous because they not only hide the truth about the genocide and the good governance practised in Rwanda, but they also arouse hatred and the genocide ideology.
In post-genocide Rwanda, if the authorities are not vigilant, such words can lead to a new slaughter of genocidal dimension. They are wrongdoers who ran away from justice in their country and hide behind political commitment to mislead the international opinion. What is it then that he can teach Rwandans in general? And what, in particular, can he tell the survivors of the genocide whom he has betrayed? Another form of Negationism which has gained ground recently involves the support given to political leaders and journalists who use the freedom of expression to spread the genocide ideology and Negationism.
The case in point is that of Mrs. Such words go beyond the context of freedom of opinion, freedom of thought and freedom of expression, and cannot be tolerated in Rwanda or in any other State. I know of no single State in the world, in particular in Europe, which would have accepted such an insult if it were leveled against its Head of State.
She was sentenced in for the same offence and had served her sentence before resuming her activities. The High Council of the Media had in vain warned her several times before her recent arrest. In court, while pleading guilty, she recognized her mistakes in her published articles which lacked professionalism. Pretending ignorance of this obvious reality, four international NGOs always the same! Amnesty International demanded pure and simple repeal of the laws which criminalize divisionism and the genocide ideology.
Yet, the laws which punish anti-Semitism in Europe are similar to Rwandan laws against the genocide ideology. In fact, since anti-Semitism is not an acceptable opinion in Europe, the genocide ideology and Negationism in Rwanda cannot be considered as acceptable ideas. Such opinions are insulting, destructive and must be fought with all the energy we can muster. As the late Rev. The difference is due to the fact that for some victims, particularly the infants, it was not easy to obtain their full particulars.
Author: Nsengiyumva Athanase, Ag. Justice ou politique? He experienced all the stages of genocide in , , and Errors and legal shortcomings in form and merits. These judges base their investigative power on the death of some of their nationals and on the rule of universal competence. They drew up arrest warrants of the suspects, demanding their immediate arrest and their transfer to France and Spain.
While it is true that universal competence is a rule of law which must be supported in the fight against the impunity of fugitive criminals, it is equally true that the manner in which it is being applied by the two judges gives rise to new legal questions which must be dreaded, more so since they seriously threaten State sovereignty. In fact, the abusive practice initiated by these two judges of using a rule of law which is universally accepted for political motives is a recent and extremely dangerous phenomenon for the future of States, especially the poorest States.
They violated very seriously the rules of procedure and committed flagrant errors of facts and legal analysis which are likely to result in the nullity of the cases concerned. In the field of criminal proceedings, when the procedure is vitiated, the whole case crumbles even if the merits are solid and well-founded. It is necessary to respect the procedure first before considering the merits.
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What this means is that the slightest error of procedure justifies the pure and simple cancellation of consideration of the merits. When one analyses these indictments, it becomes clear that the legal proceedings initiated have no justification under the law, mainly on the grounds that not only the procedure has been deeply vitiated, but also because the pieces of evidence produced are insufficient to reasonably support the responsibility of the suspects. Our analysis will be more substantiated with regard to the indictment of Judge Merelles since it is the longest and the most scandalous in terms of the seriousness of the errors it contains and the high number of persons he intends to indict; all this without any foundation.
Subsequently, the families of the other members of the crew associated also in the court action with the public prosecutor in the case. The choice of this date is not entirely coincidental. Indeed, under the French law, when a judicial investigation is under way, it takes precedence over inquiries which may be carried out by a commission. Hence the question which continues to be asked but without an answer, namely why the victims waited for a period of four years before lodging their complaint, and why the investigation and the establishment of a fact-finding mission occurred so hurriedly at the same time and at a time when the criticisms on the controversial role of France in Rwanda were resurfacing with virulence in the press.
Le Monde added that the findings would be published soon. But it took two years for these to be published. Analysts agree that the aim of this article by Le Monde was in reality to sabotage the tenth commemoration of the genocide of the Tutsi which the International Community was about to mark in a special style.
The final date chosen for the official publication of the order raises also a question. Bagosora, an ally of France, had reached a delicate phase and when French high ranking officers who had worked hand in hand with the ex-FAR were awaited to come and give evidence in his defence. It is for this reason that his findings contain serious legal defects which could have been avoided if the investigation had sought to achieve a purely judicial objective. Under the French law, the mission of the investigating magistrate is to find out the objective truth.
This requires him to conduct investigation on incriminating facts and exonerating evidence, by accepting both the facts which establish the culpability of the accused and those in his favour to prove his innocence . In fact, a careful reading of his order shows very clearly that he investigated one side, the side of the prosecution, very certainly motivated by the keen desire of proving the guilt of the mentioned Rwandan personalities. There is nowhere in his report any element indicating that during his investigations, he tried to gather pieces of evidence exculpating these personalities.
He never tried to interview the suspects. He never tried to visit the scene of the crime to check on the truthfulness or the authenticity of the information he had received. Let us even suppose that he did not want to visit Rwanda himself, why did he not dispatch a rogatory commission to this end? He carried out investigation where he wanted, he interviewed those who had the version he wanted to hear.
This is a serious defect in the conduct of a criminal procedure. Violation of the secrecy of investigation and respect of the presumption of innocence. This text cannot be clearer with regard to the obligation of discretion required of the investigating magistrate. These recurrent attacks, which were based on leaks organised by Bruguiere in breach of the requirement of discretion, had effects on the press and caused moral damage to those Rwandans who were openly accused of a crime, without any respect of the legality applicable in such a case.
This is a serious wrong to their presumption of innocence; another no less serious defect. Indictment based on non credible witnesses. And yet, some of them declare themselves to be criminals; others have defects which would disqualify their evidence such as the fact that they fled Rwanda after being tried and convicted for various offences or in order to escape legal action brought against them. The minimum judicial logic would require that these witnesses be indicted for the serious acts they recognise having committed.
The admission of guilt does not exempt the perpetrator from legal action and trial. Moreover, the French law prohibits expressly such persons from being witnesses. We are referring here to asylum seekers who are granted settlement authorisations as a result of false evidence which they sell against RPF and the Government of Rwanda. Such witnesses have no reliability when they intend to bring evidence against their opponents. He moreover interrogated witnesses who did not speak French without the services of an interpreter as required by the law .
The evidence of Ruzigana is enlightening in this regard. He says that he wanted to have the experience of going abroad. He then got in touch with his former companion in the army, Ruzibiza, who was in Europe. When he was not giving the answers corresponding to what the judge wanted, the latter would threaten him that he would not be granted political asylum in France. Following my demobilisation after the war, I was deployed to the Police. But I wanted to lead a different life, to try my luck abroad.
Ruzibiza then advised me to go to Tanzania. He informed some people in France who then contacted the French Embassy in Tanzania, and the latter granted me a visa and helped me to fly to France. I however was not an asylum seeker, I have never been one…Upon my arrival in Paris, policemen were waiting for me at the airport and they immediately took me to the judge. Although I do not speak French, there was no interpreter, there was only a secretary. I more or less understood the questions and tried to explain myself.
The judge asked me where I was coming from, how long I had been in the army. He asked me again whether I was a member of the death squad, the notorious Network Commando. I replied that there had never been such a network in Rwanda. He then interrogated me about the assassination attempt. I replied that I was indeed a member of the Intelligence Service but that in my country, one gets information about the service to which one belongs and nothing more. He then asked me about senior officers and wanted me to explain how these officers went about killing people.
It is at this juncture that the interrogation went sour because I told him that no senior officer did that kind of killing; of course I told him that there had been dead people, but that this was during the war. There had been dead people even among our ranks…. As the conversation dragged on, I became angry because when I gave him an answer he did not like, he said that that was not true, that the answer did not correspond to what he had been told.
As soon as I came out of the office of the judge, very angry, I did not even want to spend a single night in France; we immediately went to Belgium and from there, I went to Norway.
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At the end of my hearing, I signed the statement, but in reality, my statement did not even amount to five lines because when he asked me a question and I could not answer, I said nothing. In fact, he already had all the answers to those issues…. These two personalities enjoy the immunity of their persons and immunity from legal proceedings and cannot be sued as along as they are in office.
This principle is a permanent feature which is regularly recalled by the International Court of Justice, underlining the imperative necessity of respecting the privileges and immunities of diplomats. In the ruling dated 14 th February in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo vs Belgium, the Court even specified the nature and scope of these immunities by pointing out that during their term of office, the Heads of State, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other diplomats in office, shall enjoy immunity against criminal jurisdiction and total immunity abroad.
The same applies when these authorities are on the territory of another State, whether on official or private business. The Court pointed out that these immunities cover all the actions carried out both before the appointment of these authorities and in the course of their duties, whether these are official or private actions. Finally, the Court considered that there was no exception to this rule in international law.
Any attack on his person, his freedom or his dignity is prohibited by international law . And it should be noted that the immunity from legal proceedings enjoyed by the Heads of State and diplomats concerns both administrative and civil jurisdictions as well as criminal jurisdictions. This is rather a petty political than a legal ploy.
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Negation of an internationally established and recognized genocide. From the view of the Convention of 9 th December on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, genocide is an action committed with the intention of destroying wholly or in part a national, racial, ethnic or religious group as such. Even sometimes when the lawyers are not there, the tribunal will not go on, except if the lawyer is there for the accused person, the tribunal will adjourn.
Except if there is a legal representation they will not go on. In that wise I do say that the constitutional provisions on fair trial, fair hearing, legal representations are quite in order and they are being maintained. The right to defend, right to establish - no I do not know, maybe I should not go to that yet - the right to establish trade unions and so on, the right to form parties and associations - I want to go on to that now, I do not know I appreciate that madam, I am impressed with the composition, the membership of the court, but could you just give me one answer relating to appeals procedure: what happens to any person aggrieved by the decision of that court?
Does he have a right of appeal to the normal court, or is his appeal is prevented? Within the tribunals, decisions by the tribunals, they do not follow the same pattern as in the normal courts, whereby there is the right to go to the court of appeal and things like that. No, they are not, I said it earlier, that the rulings and decisions are not final, even though they have been made, the pronouncements are made, what happens is that the accused person or the convicted person has a right to petition, and in spite of that even if he doesn't do that, the normal administrative process before confirmation of any decision, tribunal decision, is that such decision is placed before a council, that meets, the attorney general is there if it is a state matter, the attorney general of the state is present, the deputy is there, all the members of the council will be there, and then the governor of the state.
And they look at the matter, they look at the precedence again, that is even without a petition, before the decision or the ruling is confirmed, or committed, whatever decision they decide to take on it. There is the review process, yes, we have a review system whereby these rulings are looked at, are reviewed. Before you leave the floor, can you give three examples of these tribunals we are talking about, can you name three of them? We have the Armed Robbery tribunal, we have the Miscellaneous Offenses tribunal - Perhaps I should say something: these tribunals actually came into being when there were these, after the, most of them came after the Second Republic, the breakdown of the Second Republic, and the draconian laws came, and the laws of tribunals were just being set up to deal with matters that were coming up, a lot of armed robbery, there was a lot of things happening in the country at that time, armed robbery, and that was the time also that there were drug trafficking and things like that.
And the government of that time felt that they needed something extra to cope with the volume of offenses emerging at that time. That will be briefly a history of the tribunals, an introduction of these tribunals. And like I also said, we do have these tribunals set up for matters like the civil disturbances tribunals and so on, when there is a civil disturbance the government steps in, sets up the civil disturbance tribunal particularly for that matter. I would just like to get it clear from the speaker that the ordinary court has no supervision at all over these tribunals - is that the position?
You have told us, madam, that there is an appeal from these tribunals and these appeals go to a body of persons composed of, say, the attorney general, the governor, the deputy, etc. Now, there was no mention of a move to the high court or to the court of appeal or to the Supreme Court. I just want a reconfirmation that appeals from these tribunals are not, or rather, proceedings of these tribunals are not supervised by the ordinary courts. Is that the position? The proceedings are, because a serving judge is the Chairman, so that the Chairman, yes. If you talk about the proceedings, they are supervised by the Chairman who is also a serving judge.
He might have been drawn from either the high court, drawn from the court of appeal, or from the Supreme Courts. I would want to add here that it does not mean that things that are going on in the tribunal could, one could not sue - perhaps if there was a procedural that any of the lawyers attending the tribunal is dissatisfied with or does not believe to be the proper way they should go, concerning the legal practice, he could sue in regular court.
He could sue in the regular court, concerning the practice or the procedural that is going on in the tribunal. That happens, he could sue. Even while the tribunal is going on, you could sue, and the matter can go on as high as to the Supreme Court. So I do not know if that will partly answer the question, I do not know. By that do you mean you could take the government of court by way of judicial review, mandamus, certiori, etc.
What do you mean by "he could sue" in the regular courts? If there is a procedural that is going on, that he is not satisfied with, maybe he felt that a motion is this, or some pronouncements were made or he was not given the right to properly cross-examine or things like that - he could sue. He could sue and like go to court, file a motion I see, hmm. Well, thank you very much for enlightening us on that particular aspect.
By way of general comment I will tell you why many of us are extremely anxious, because the general thing about tribunals is, you set them up and give them their own peculiar rules of procedure, whereby you cut off what is termed to be technical technicalities.
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And in fact so-called technicalities are there to protect the litigant. With so many special tribunals we know, they attempt to cut off all the so-called technicalities and in the name of speed they tend to result in injustices, especially where there is no right of appeal to a higher, regular court. This is just by way of general comment, and we hope you will consider these things and make proper comparisons when next you deal with this particular question of special tribunals.
Yes, the right to form parties, associations, I think it was raised, the trade union. The Constitution provides with such rights, and indeed and in fact such rights are being made us of, because people in Nigeria form trade unions, there is the liberty to form associations, free associations. There are no harassments as to that or hindrances put in their way. And specifically may I think the two political parties mentioned in the reports. What happened and why it was so done, why two political parties were said to be the permissible parties in Nigeria now, is because hitherto to this time Nigerians were left to form parties and we had so many political parties.
There were no objections, the governments never stepped in, but from my experience, it was found that these political parties did not actually address the objectives, the real issues of party formation, political associations. Going back to the first civilian years, before independence, political parties were formed on religious, ethnic basis, it was a kind of sectional thing, and the real issues were not addressed. It was also the same thing during the Second Republic, and it took us nowhere.
The attenders at the Third Republic were something like that, and I want it to be on record that we had so many political parties just before the intervention of the government. So many parties were formed. And the formation of these parties took us nowhere. As a matter of fact there where the requests from the citizens themselves, wanting the parties to be streamlined, because the manifestos were just here and there, the objectives could not be found Chairman, that was the first attempt that was made in August , but I should preface this by saying that, I am going with this question not in the form of a criticism, but I would like to find out in the way of dialogue, found out if there were any difficulties which could not be referred to us, and for which we might give advice.
So, when I raise this question, I implore the delegation to view them not as a criticism, but as an honest way of establishing this dialogue and finding mutual help. If there were any difficulties, we would like to know - in case in future we might be able to find a way of knowing about those difficulties.
But Mr. Chairman, the first attempt was made in August , and I remember on this particular occasion, the Commission was having the privilege of sitting in Lagos. Now there is where this first attempt was made, and the report was presented there, but there was no state representative to come and talk about it. Even though the Commission was seated right in Lagos. A small question that the Commission is posing is: considering Nigeria which is a big country with large, with big resources in terms of manpower, what could have happened?
And from then on we have been sending invitations to a representative to come to present the report. Even last Commission meeting we had sent for a representative, but nobody turned up. All that we are asking for is: in case that there are problems faced by those preparing the report, we would wish to know in case we might be able to offer or suggest solutions. Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I would now like to turn to the report as presented today, and I have only short and simple interventions. In fact, very elementary questions. Now, it appears from page two of the report that the Constitution has been suspended, and that the Constitution currently in force is the one, and the report farther shows that this suspension, this Constitution has been suspended until August Now, the simple questions I am raising, Mr.
Chairman, are as follows: What were the circumstances which led to the suspension of the Constitution? Associated with that is the question: What are the prospects, that this August target will be met? In other words: how is it seen that those problems which led to suspension of the Constitution will be surmounted by August ? Turning on page three, Mr. Chairman, the report shows, that the Constitution now in force, seeks to ensure independence impartiality, and integrity in of courts of law and easy accessibility to the people who come to it, in other words, the provision actually reads as follows: "the independence, impartiality, and integrity of courts of law and the accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.
Those people who have grievances, how are the courts accessible to them? In this regard I have in particular the following matters to take into account. It is noted from the paper that violations of human rights are actionable the only in high court, not in the courts below. Now, how easy is it for the ordinary man to come to the high court? I have noted, it is noted in the paper, that there are provisions for legal aid in respect of people who have grievances and who would like to find redress in the courts. The question is: how easy is it to get legal aid?
I cannot - in fact one cannot say that one can get legal aid as is a matter of course. I do not think it will be possible in any country. But in fact, according to the paper, legislature is to make provisions of how to get legal aid, by that I understand to mean that a certain machinery et up to ensure that those who ask for legal aid are really in need of legal aid.
My question is: how easy is it, how readily can someone, can a person get legal aid? Closely connected with this is, it is a matter of general knowledge that in order for someone to be able to enforce their legal rights is imperative that they are aware of those legal rights, of those human rights. And the question is: how far is the ordinary public aware of their human rights, so that when these are violated, they can be aware of them and indicate them. I am having in mind in particular the people in the rural area.
How far are they aware of their, what is the general knowledge of human rights? If you wish, what is the degree of literacy, which is one of the elements which enables a person to be aware of their human rights. It is one way of making someone be aware of the guaranteed rights in the constitution. Because when these rights are guaranteed in the Constitution, it is one thing to guarantee them in the Constitution, but it is another if the population are aware of those rights. How far will the people generally know if these rights guaranteed in the Constitution? Je voudrais formuler 2 souhaits, je poserai ensuite 2 questions et je finirai par une petite observation.
Vraiment ce serait souhaitable que nous puissions avoir le document en plusieurs versions, sinon nous ne pourrons pas apporter nos contributions, je n'ai pas pu lire votre document. Maintenant deux questions. I have two announcements to make - first, we shall have to rise at a quarter past six, because this reception in this hotel in which we have been invited by the honourable Minister of Justice - the announcement was made before that all NGO representatives and all Commissioners are cordially invited.
The second announcement, is that those that have just presented their application for observer status must realise that we have gone beyond that item on our agenda. Those applications will not be considered until our next session. With that I give the floor to Commissioner Ben Salem. Surtout en ce qui me concerne sur la forme du rapport. Evidemment M. Voila donc ma seconde question qui concerne cette infor- mation que nous avons pu avoir par ailleurs. Enfin je vais terminer par une information. Mais il y a un autre aspect de la question. C'est simplement une information que je souhaiterais avoir sur ce point.
At this point, I would like to ask the delegate whether she will be available tomorrow morning for other questions since we are going to close down in 5 minutes, I cannot imagine that you will be in a position to answer all these questions posed. Will you be available tomorrow morning? In that case, I will ask the final question and then tomorrow you will just give a final answer. And it is this: apart from legislation or the Constitution, what measures has your Government taken to implement the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, with regard to certain provisions?
In particular, what steps or measures has your Government taken to eradicate harmful, traditional practices like tribal scarifications, in view of the fact that there is a danger of the spread of AIDS? And what measures have been taken to eradicate female circumcision in view of the danger to women, in fact, in view of the implied discrimination against women?
That is all, thank you very much. Thank you very much. As I said, this meeting must come to an end, and it will be adjourned until tomorrow morning when we shall continue with the delegate from Nigeria. The meeting is adjourned. But I now seem to have read some of the papers which gives me a new impression. From my information there is a Constitution suspension and modification decree no.
Secondly, I understand that most of these decrees enacted by the military government prevail over the constitutional provisions. In other words, if there is the Constitution and there is a decree and there is a conflict then in accordance with the military decrees, the decree prevails over the Constitution. And not only that, but that the courts appear also to have recognised that the military decrees do prevail over the constitutional provisions. Chairman, if that is the case, then I suppose strictly Nigeria ought not to submit its Constitution to us. It should submit first the military decrees and second perhaps the Constitution to the extend that it is applicable.
Chairman, I also have something that I am not sure I am really had to insist on getting the original copy of the Nigerian Gazette to really accept that there were something like that. I understand that as of now there is a Gazette no. This decree apparently arose out of some problems regarding the management of the Bar Association in Nigeria, and the Government felt compelled to enact a decree, the purpose of which is: one, to take over the administration of the Bar Association and vest it in a special group that the Government preferred.
And for fear or in anticipation of any legal steps that might be taken, the Government went further and said; 'This decree shall not be challenged by anybody before any law courts'. That is ousting the jurisdiction of the courts. Now, that's bad enough, normally, but I cannot believe it, Mr. Chairman, they went further and said; 'Anybody who challenges those provisions before any court of law is by that act committing a criminal offence and is subject to prosecution'.
Chairman, I find this very difficult to believe, but let me quote. Then, it - as this provision which is extremely unusual - I do not know whether there is any country which has any provisions like that - 'Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection one' - i. Chairman, this is a provision which says that anybody who goes to the courts of law to seek redress is committing an offence. Now, I am sure in most jurisdictions, certainly in my country, if the Attorney General or the Director of Public Prosecution tried to prosecute anybody who is seeking redress before the courts, he himself, the Attorney General or the Director of Public Prosecution, would be in contempt of court.
And the court would issue an order, ordering that he should show cause why he should not be detained for contempt of court. But I do not know, Mr. Chairman, I would really wish to be enlightened on these provisions, because I think that this is an exceptional phrase which I have never, ever contemplated could be enacted by any Government which claims to respect the rule of law.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I understand that Nigeria is incorporating the African Charter in the Constitution - but we are made to understand that whatever is contained in the Constitution would only be allowed to exist, Mr. Chairman, if it does not offend against the provisions of a military decree. Now I quote, Mr. Chairman, 'For the avoidance of doubt, the question whether any provision of Chapter 4, that is the human rights provisions of the Constitution, is being or likely to be breach shall not be inquired into by any court of law'.
Chairman, the courts are irrelevant as far as my understanding is concerned on the question of human rights. What is really important is the military decrees, and I would add, Mr. Chairman, that if this is the position, then perhaps really it is not relevant for us to look at the Nigerian Constitution or any of these provisions that are subject to be overruled by the military decrees. What we should have in fact is that the military decrees, we should see whether the military decrees - I do not even know how you enforce them - to the extent that you cannot go to the courts or in some cases, you commit an offence by going to the courts.
Chairman, I thought that perhaps - I would wish I could ask more questions, but this was a supplementary question, really the question, Mr. Chairman, is - it does appear as if I misunderstood the answer or I misunderstood the position and that is, the Constitution of Nigeria does not apply, it only applies by grace of the military decrees. And two, that where the military decrees consider it necessary, they even make it a criminal offence for anybody to try to go for redress before the courts of law. I also had doubts along the side explained by my colleague Commissioner Mokama, and these doubts were raised by a subsequent communication which were received from Nigerian NGOs, that is a counter report which was received after considering Nigeria's report.
Upon reading this report, this counter report, Mr. Chairman, I felt that I should ask one or two supplementary questions to what I put yesterday. Like my colleague, Commissioner Mokama, Mr. Chairman, I was under the impression after yesterday's submission by the Nigerian delegate that the policy of the military government of Nigeria is geared towards the protection and the observance of human rights - that is whether within the Constitution or within its military decrees.
That is how I understood it. I understood that the policy of that Government whether within the decrees or outside the decrees was geared towards protection and observance of human rights, but upon reading this counter report, Mr. Chairman, I have found it necessary - I have been compelled to ask for clarification on a number of points. It seems to me that there are certain acts or matters which, if true, would constitute a violation of human rights by the Nigerian Government.
I will mention only a few examples - it is up here in the counter report. We are told I will ask the delegate to comment on that, Mr. Another incident is that incommunicative detentions respecting these people - and these only two people, there were a number of people arrested and detained incommunicado, these incommunicado detentions lasted for over one and a half months during which the inmates could not see their families or friends, could not obtain legal counsel or medical services.
It is further alleged that attempts were made to secure their release. Courts made orders, but that these court orders were disobeyed by the Government. That would appear to be inconsistent with the principle of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary as stated by the delegate, that it is a principle which is followed by the current Nigerian Government. Because one of the principles is that if the judiciary is independent, then when it makes, when the court makes orders those orders have to be followed if they are made against the Executive.
The other incident, Mr. Chairman, is, it is alleged that security agencies of the Government are increasingly searching the residences and the premises of people and organizations, especially human rights organizations without lawful excuse. And this constitutes not only an assault on liberty of the individual and institution but also harassment.
The residences so searched,Mr. Chairman, include those of once again Dr. Beko Ransakute and those of the Senate Chambers, where we are told a seminar on women and taxation in Nigeria was being held. Another incident is that the Government has closed down the Reporter newspaper indefinitely and its editor arrested and detained without trial for three weeks.
This is clear violation of human rights, on the individual liberty, and on individual, and the freedom of the press. While the delegate told us yesterday that Nigeria was one of the freest - had one of the freest press in the continent. And lastly, Mr. Chairman, is an incident mentioned and expounded at length by my colleague across the floor Commissioner Mokama, and that is that Government has now placed the Nigerian Bar Association under the management of a government controlled care-taker committee, with the consequences as explained by Commissioner Mokama.
It is in the light of these subsequent matters brought to our attention, Mr. Chairman, that I would ask the delegate of the Nigerian Government to come forth with some explanation showing how these matters - if they are true - are consistent with the commitment of the Nigerian Government to the observance of human rights in Nigeria. Thank you very much Commissioner Kisanga. And with that I would ask the honourable Nigerian delegate to take the floor. With respect to the issue of suspension of the certain portions of the Constitution and I would also like to include the aspect of the Constitution which yesterday was said to have been suspended.
As I will like to clarify that that is not the position in Nigeria. For this reason - specifically on Constitution, it is not a suspension of the Constitution, as it were. It is not that the Constitution has been suspended the reason behind what is presently happening or why we still cite in Nigeria the Constitution is because some of the provisions contained in the Constitution were for the civil rule, the civilians, they are provisions on the legislature, the National Assembly and so on.
These are provisions that would be put in place properly when the civilian administration becomes effective or commences, so that it is not right for that Constitution to be fully operational now. It is not as if to say that Nigeria is presently without a Constitution. The Constitution is the Constitution that is presently in operation.
And even in the Constitution, there is a provision to time of its commencement, so the Government has thought it wise because, this is a military regime, the military regime cannot operate provisions that are meant for the civil administration and that is why there is something like a suspension, but it is not because there were problems, that we could not operate it.
That is the impression that I would like to clear and clarify. In due time, when the civilian regime comes into place, the Constitution will become fully operational. As for certain provisions of the , the Constitution Suspension and Modification Decree that was cited - , - years that such decrees were promulgated, but my response to that is this: that in my report, I think in one or two places, I mentioned that despite of those decrees the human rights provisions are not disallowed to be looked into by the law courts. Because of the circumstance with which I was able to come here, I am not fully armed with the provisions because there were amendments to those and - the decrees that were cited by the honourable Commissioner.
I would have loved to give you the amendments - certain amendments, constitutional decree amendments to those two decrees, but I do not have them here. I do not have them here, so Mr. Chairman, I will not be able to properly furnish the Commission with those amendments. And I would say that in our next report, we shall put all those, the specific amendments, that is to say, that have not rendered the application of the Chapter 4, the human rights provisions of the Constitution, void or valid or invalid or something like that.
I can only hope that that will not be necessary after the civilian Government has come into power. The last speaker, the honourable Commissioner, had mentioned the issue of arbitrary arrest as a result of petroleum, subsidy removal or something like that and that Dr. Bekoe and so on. Chairman, the issue of arbitrary arrest, with respect to Dr. Bekoe and some others, I would say that these people had been released. And I believe that any Government has the responsibility towards its citizens when there are upheavals, crises, extraordinary circumstances and situations to take the best step necessary to restore peace and tranquillity in the country.
And precisely, that is what was done during this period, and I want to say clearly that it was not due to the petroleum issue, because that just happened about some months ago. In fact, up till now, I think the subsidy concerning petroleum will take effect from June, but there were debates, there were discussions all over the country, the Minister for Petroleum Resources and I think the Finance Minister and all of them came on the air and they had press briefings and things like that in order to explain to the nation what was going to happen, and what they intended to do, and that was precisely what happened.
The petroleum matter, the removal of subsidy has not taken place yet. It is due to take place, from my knowledge and what was said in the papers, June or so. For they wanted us to know what was going to happen and why they were taking the steps. The arbitrary arrests, like I have said before, Mr.
Find a copy in the library
Chairman, the nation can take certain steps reasonably justifiable within a democratic society to see that peace is restored especially, when it feels that perhaps certain groups are trying to move the citizenry into insurrection, violence and a lot of disturbances. And I do see, Mr. Chairman, that when certain arrests, arbitrary perhaps, when they are effected, in due course these people are released if - even before release they do charge them, they bring charges against them so that they are just not arrested like that, indefinitely, and put in custody indefinitely.
And the issue of and Dr. Bekoe, and so on.. Concerning the crack-down, I think it was mentioned yesterday with human rights activists or so. The Government is committed to the furtherance of human rights, I would say, but sometimes it does find itself at odds with this human rights activists, the groups, the NGOs. But in spite of it, I believe that Nigeria has what I would call a magnanimous military regime.
I was asked yesterday concerning the right to development, what Nigeria is doing to effect this right? Nigeria has in place many programmes to further the objectives of right to development. We have the MAMSA, mass mobilization programme to economic recovery, and in this programme, the Government assists people generally - it has certain projects for mobilizing the population into being self-sufficient and to have economic strength.
The Government wants to assure that as most as possible, the large number of our population has something to do. Then we have the small-scale industry - the Government gives money to this people and sets them up in different locations. You have about three or four persons coming together, they give them money as loan and they are to pay it back, you know, at ease.
But you have to show that you have something going, you give them your study or something like that so you just show, a petty trader, somebody frying something by the roadside and things like that. People - this type of groups are known to be given loans, the Government gives them loans and they carry on their businesses. Then we have the People's Bank - the People's Bank to operate in this line, they give small, small loans and they can always put any amount at all - in fact it is a mobile bank and they go around the markets, they go around all the nooks and corners of the country.
And then we have the Better Life Programme which has become very popular and I am sure members of the Commission are well aware of it. It has even won lately an award on an international level. This Better Life Programme has a chapter in each of the states, it has really created an awareness especially with respect to women who are mostly the beneficiaries. An awareness in them that they could be self-sufficient, they could contribute very much to the development of the nation and the awareness that they are assets to the country, in terms of economic, social and otherwise.
This programme too, the Better Life Programme, amongst others like the National Women Council, National Women Society, National Council for Women Society and the National Committee for Women - they have so many seminars, they carry on seminars, symposia and workshops, and due this programmes they educate especially women as to their rights, as to what they can do, and in this regard I would like to talk about the issue that Mr.
Chairman raised concerning circumcision. A lot of education goes on for women under this programme. The issue of legal aid as a civility which was raised yesterday - Nigeria Legal Aid Scheme has gained a lot of grounds and I dare say that it is widely made use of, because there is a lot of publicity concerning it.
As rightly said, sir, yesterday, the honourable Commissioner that there is a ceiling to how much and how much who can come in. But even in spite of that, the Legal Aid Scheme is such that when there are cases of people who perhaps are even above the ceiling but they are such that they cannot provide for themselves at that instant, in order to have their cases before the law courts, they are given legal aid. I was a legal aid officer for some time and it is in Nigeria numbered a youth corper, we have something we call the National Youth Service Corps - after graduating as university graduates, you are meant to serve the nation for a year and that is called the National Youth Service Scheme.
You are sent to any part of the nation. Lawyers that are serving in the Legal Aid Division, they are made to handle cases you have a register, because I went through it, you have a register and every month, you must have done a certain number of cases. They do not give you a ceiling, a limit, but they want to see you are doing cases every time. We have a register. And that practice is still on. We do not wait for people to come and meet us, we go to them, to the prisons, to ask for people who are there that do not have legal representation - I did it.
And the Legal Aid has offices all over the nation. Initially, it used to be only for criminal matters, but now it has been expanded and includes civil cases. The mass expulsion, a matter that was raised yesterday. It would appear that the Gabonese Government must have consulted with the Nigerian Government with respect to the illegal immigrants, I believe, and that must have been why there was - I will not call it collaboration with respect, but perhaps the Nigerian Government would want to assist in bringing these people back, its citizens back, in order to forestall any inconveniences or some hardships on these illegal immigrants.
And I would like to recall the problems that the Nigerian citizens, I think during the period of the Liberia issue and Ghana or something, and I think that was what motivated the Government to send these ships, so they could bring its citizens back. And it would appear also there were some manhandling or something like that - I gathered the unexpected manhandling of some immigrants, even at the port of embarkation, and I believe the Nigerian Government must have been consulted on that issue.
Concerning the question about the delay for Nigeria to submit its report, particularly after the Commission meeting in Lagos. Sir, I would want to say that in Nigeria there have been frequent changes in the Ministry. First of all, I believe that if the notice had gotten to the appropriate authority, in this respect my Ministry, I want to believe that we would have done something.
The circumstance of my coming here at all would explain our commitment to the matter of human rights, because like I said yesterday, I only heard on one day and I was able to get approval on the same to attend. I am sure that we would have done something, but notwithstanding I would also want to say that the movement to Abuja had not been easy.
Some of us are in Lagos, and some are operating from Abuja, sometimes correspondences are perhaps lost in transit or something like that.