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Law school deans from across the US call for Professor Erlinder’s release from Rwanda jail

On Monday, June 7, 90 law school deans from across the United States signed a letter calling for the release of Professor Peter Erlinder to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda W. Stuart Symington, and Rwandan Ambassador to the United States James Kimonyo.

Deans letter to Sec. Clinton

Deans letter to Ambassador Symington

The letter to Ambassador Kimonyo follows.

June 7, 2010

His Excellency
James Kimonyo
Ambassador of Rwanda

1714 New Hampshire NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Ambassador Kimonyo:

We are deans of American law schools. As legal educators, we believe we have an obligation to nurture in our students the core values of the legal profession. These core values are threatened by the arrest in Rwanda of William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder. We are writing to respectfully request your assistance in ensuring his safety and release.

The U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that lawyers “shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions” and that “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” These principles also provide that “lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly.”

As you know, Prof. Erlinder was in Kigali to pursue a legal defense for Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. We believe that he has been arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned unjustly and for simply doing the work of the lawyer: advocating on behalf of his client.

Ambassador Kimonyo, we respectfully urge the government of Rwanda to abide by these principles, to refrain from harassment of lawyers practicing law consistent with their professional obligations, and to release Prof. Erlinder forthwith.

Very truly yours,

(Affiliations are listed for identification only and do not represent institutional endorsement.)

R. Alexander Acosta, Florida International University

William E. Adams, Jr., Western State University College of Law

John B. Attanasio, Dedman School of Law Southern Methodist University

Martin H. Belsky, University of Akron School of Law

Paul Schiff Berman, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University.

Douglas Blaze, University of Tennessee College of Law

Jeff Brand, University of San Francisco School of Law

David A. Brennen, University of Kentucky College of Law

Shelley Broderick, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

Doris DelTosto Brogan, Villanova University School of Law

Penelope Bryan, Whittier Law School

Judge John L. Carroll, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University

James Ming Chen, University of Louisville

Annette E. Clark, Seattle University School of Law

Jay Conison, Valparaiso University School of Law

John Corkery, The John Marshall Law School

George Critchlow, Gonzaga University School of Law

Mary A. Crossley, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Marianne B. Culhane, Creighton Univ. School of Law

Kenneth B. Davis, Jr., University of Wisconsin Law School

Samuel M. Davis, University of Mississippi School of Law

Nora V. Demleitner, Hofstra University School of Law

R. Lawrence Dessem, University of Missouri School of Law

Matthew Diller, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

John M. A. DiPippa, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Allen Easley, University of LaVerne College of Law

JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University Beasley School of Law

John J. Farmer, Jr., Rutgers School of Law | Newark

Daisy H. Floyd, Mercer University School of Law

Alfredo Garcia, St. Thomas University School of Law

Bryant G. Garth, Southwestern Law School

Arthur R. Gaudio, Western New England College School of Law

Victor J. Gold, Loyola Law School

Peter Goplerud, Florida Coastal School of Law

Ken Gormley, Duquesne University School of Law

Stephen M. Griffin, Tulane Law School

Claudio Grossman, American University, Washington College of Law

Donald J. Guter, South Texas College of Law

Jack A. Guttenberg, Capital University Law School

Phoebe A. Haddon, University of Maryland School of Law

Lawrence K. Hellman, Oklahoma City University

Dennis R. Honabach, Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University

Scott W. Howe, Chapman University School of Law

Eric S. Janus, William Mitchell College of Law

Robert H. Jerry, II, Levin College of Law, University of Florida

George R. Johnson, Jr., Elon University School of Law

Bernard V. Keenan, Suffolk University Law School

Robert Klonoff, Lewis & Clark Law School

Don LeDuc, Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Donald M. Lewis, Hamline University School of Law

David A. Logan, Roger Williams University School of Law

Richard A. Matasar, New York Law School

Philip J. McConnaughay, Penn State The Dickinson School of Law

Joyce E. McConnell, West Virginia University College of Law

Thomas M. Mengler, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Veryl Miles, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law

Blake D. Morant, Wake Forest University School of Law

Charles I. Nelson, Faulkner University, Jones School of Law

John O’Brien, New England Law | Boston

Maureen A. O’Rourke, Boston University School of Law

Jeremy Paul, University of Connecticut School of Law

Raymond C. Pierce, North Carolina Central University School of Law

Freddie Pitcher, Jr., Southern University Law Center

Peter Pitegoff, University of Maine School of Law

Lawrence Raful, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Drucilla S. Ramey, Golden Gate University, School of Law

Robert H. Rawson, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Douglas E Ray, University of Toledo College of Law

Richard L. Revesz, New York University School of Law

Jim Rosenblatt, Mississippi College School of Law

Irma Russell, University of Montana School of Law

Lawrence Sager, University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Brad Saxton, Quinnipiac University School of Law

Kurt L. Schmoke, Howard University School of Law

Lloyd Semple, University of Detroit Mercy School of law

Michelle S. Simon, Pace Law School

Steven R. Smith, California Western School of Law | San Diego

Rodney A. Smolla, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Rayman L. Solomon, Rutgers University School of Law – Camden

Mathew D. Staver, Liberty University School of Law
Athornia Steele, Nova Southeastern University

Dennis Stone, Charlotte School of Law

Ellen Y. Suni, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Kellye Y. Testy, University of Washington School of Law

William M. Treanor, Fordham Law School

Kevin Washburn, University of New Mexico School of Law

John Valery White, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Patricia D. White, University of Miami School of Law

Rebecca H. White, University of Georgia, School of Law

David Yellen, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

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June 9, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda: Police apologises to detained PS Imberakuri’s Hakizimfura

Kigali – Police detectives on Sunday arrested an opposition politician from the offices of a local FM station, but RNA can reveal that the officers who picked up Pasteur Noel Hakizimfura were acting on the orders of a lone-officer Theogene Karekezi.

Pasteur Hakizimfura was cleared of all charges of links to the failed arson attack on his boss Christine Mukabunane by a court on Friday. However, on Sunday afternoon, about six uniformed and plain-clothed officers rounded him up after he had spoken on Contact FM.

It emerged Monday that Mr. Hakizimfura was immediately released following intervention from Police Headquarters. Sources have told RNA that Mr. Hakizimfura has a personal grudge with Police Inspector Theogene Karekezi who is attached to Gikondo, a Kigali suburb.

The troubles between the two stem from the time of the break up of the PS Imberakuri party in March, say sources. Inspector Karekezi apparently wanted to exert control on the Mukabonane splinter faction of the party, but was rubbished by Mr. Hakizimfura personally.

It has also emerged that on Monday, the angry Mr. Hakizimfura was invited by top police detective Tony Kuramba for a meeting. Chief Superintendent of Police Kuramba reportedly expressed regrets on behalf of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

“Kuramba appologised to [Pasteur Noel Hakizimfura] for the incident saying that the officer had acted without the knowledge of the Police leadership,” the source authorized by Hakizimfura to speak to RNA, said.

Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga said the Force was investigating the incident but declined to give details.


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June 9, 2010   No Comments

ICTR defense lawyers in trouble over protesting Erlinder detention in Rwanda

Kigali – Defense attorneys Peter Robinson and Patrick Nimy Mayidika Ngimbi are risking jail and fines of US$10,000 each after being charged with contempt of court at the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), RNA can reveal.

Trial Chamber III judge Dennis Byron on Tuesday afternoon ruled that American Robinson and Belgian Nimy start preparing for their defense in proceedings which starts June 21. Incidentally, British Judge Byron is the President of the ICTR.

Trouble for the two defense attorneys started Monday when they refused to continue with their case unless the UN court condemns and acts on the prosecution by Rwanda of their colleague Peter Erlinder.

The bitter defense lawyers are representing Joseph Nzirorera – Ex-Secretary General of MRND, former Rwandan ruling party. Both Robinson Nimy are defending Nzirorera. The

The former official is charged along with the MRND party President Mathieu Ngirumpatse and his Vice-President Edouard Karemera.

Three lead Counsels in these cases – Peter Robinson, Dior Diagne Mbaye and Frédéric Weyl told court Monday that they could not continue with their work amid threats from Rwanda. The fact that Erlinder is being prosecuted, according to the attorneys, means all defense attorneys could be targeted.

Heated exchanges ensued between the three attorneys on these cases and the trial Judge Dennis Byron, after he dismissed their concerns and ordered them to continue with their work or they are punished.

Peter Robinson, the most vocal among the attorneys, refused to accept the Judge’s ruling to continue with examining a defense witness named Janvier Busogi who had been brought in from the United States.

In the Tuesday proceedings, when ordered to start cross-examining the witness, Robinson again defied the Judge. At this point, the furious Judge Byron decided to charge the two defense attorneys for Nzirorera on contempt of court.

“Mr. Robinson, it’s quite clear that you are not obeying our directives. And I think the Chamber does have a reason to believe that you may be in contempt of the Tribunal under rule 77 for directly disobeying a court order and refusing to conduct the examination of witness Janvier Busogi, who has travelled from the United States to testify in Arusha after the Tribunal overcame many expensive logistical and administrative obstacles,” said the judge.

“The Chamber…orders that Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nimy appear in court on Monday June 21st,” said Judge Byron.

If convicted, the two attorneys each risk jail terms of up to five years or a fine of US$10,000 or both.

Judge Byron had in the morning issued a warning to Peter Robinson under Rule 46(A) and ordered that he be reported to his Bar Association in the United States for obstructing the proceedings.


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June 9, 2010   1 Comment