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Political majority in the Netherlands in favor of cutting Dutch aid to Rwanda

Cutting Dutch aid clear signal to Rwanda

A growing majority of Dutch political parties is calling upon the Netherlands to cut its aid to Rwanda, several MP’s have confirmed to Radio Netherlands. VVD, the biggest party in the Dutch lower House and a member of the ruling coalition, wants cut back on the amount of money that flows directly into the Rwandan national budget. Other parties want to continue the freeze on this direct budget support that has been in place since 2008.

By Sophie van Leeuwen and Ruben Koops

The damning UN report on Rwandan activity in east Congo and the arrest of Victoire Ingabire are examples of how Rwanda is suffering from a bad news cycle with no end in sight. Meanwhile the Dutch parliament is preparing for a final round of budget talks and representatives are doing the math. A political majority appears to be in favour of cutting back on Rwandan development aid and giving president Kagame’s government a strong warning at the same time.

Klaas Dijkhoff, MP for VVD and spokesperson on development aid for his party, considers the current political situation in Rwanda as worrisome. “I can’t support the things that are happening in Rwanda right now. We support the development of a professional justice system in Rwanda, but at the same time opposition leader Victoire Ingabire is locked up!”

Unfair

According to Dijkhoff, Ingabire is not receiving a fair trial in Rwanda. “They put her in jail, placed her under house arrest, released her and then locked her up again without any substantial evidence! When you ask me, it looks like a political trial.”

Joël Voordewind, who is an MP for the Christian Union uses even stronger language. “Right now, we support the construction of jails by directly funding the Rwandan justice department.” Voordewind says: “As we speak those jails are being used to lock up political prisoners, and I don’t want us to be responsible for these policies.” Voordewind calls upon the minister of foreign affairs to end the direct government support the Netherlands is giving to Rwanda, a proposition that is likely to gain broad  support during the foreign ministry budget negotiations.

Freeze

There has been more criticism regarding the Dutch aid to Rwanda. The Netherlands is an important donor country to Rwanda with a proposed aid budget of 44 million euros for 2011. The part that flows directly to the Rwandan government has been frozen since 2008, because of the alleged Rwandan involvement in violence in east Congo.

Kathleen Ferrier, an MP for the Christian-democratic People’s Party, was responsible for suspending the direct budget aid to Rwanda in 2008. “I don’t see any immediate reason to resume our funding to the Rwandan budget”, Ferrier says. “I still have loads of questions, but I am willing to be convinced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

Non-issue

However, the Rwandese senator Aloysia Inyumba who is visiting the Netherlands calls the criticism and the possible cancellation of direct budget support “hysterical” and “very unfair.”

Immaculee Uwanyiligira, the Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands is worried about the tilting view amongst Dutch officials. “When Rwanda needed a friend after the ’94 genocide, the Netherlands was there for us”, she explains during a press briefing at the embassy in The Hague. “If the Netherlands had to redraw its budget support because of belt tightening, we’d understand. But we hope that it doesn’t happen because of Victoire Ingabire, because that is a non-issue.”

Hutu agenda

Labour MP Sjoera Dikkers is concerned about the outcome of the budget negotiations. “I think cancelling aid is a tough decision, because President Kagame is still the man who got Rwanda back on its feet after the genocide.” According to Dikkers, ethnic Hutu’s provide most of the criticism on the current situation in Rwanda. “It’s the Hutu agenda that I receive most pressure from, and I find it hard to just agree with that” says Dikkers.

Tuesday the Dutch House committee on Foreign Affairs will meet with a Rwandan delegation, the ambassador and Senator Inyumba. A final decision on Rwandan support will be made during the foreign affairs budget hearings in mid-December.

[Radio Netherlands Worldwide]

November 9, 2010   3 Comments

Case Victoire Ingabire: The prosecutor’s evidence was fake

by Sylvain SIBOMANA.

This Monday 08 November 2010, on her 26th day in Prison, Ms. Victoire INGABIRE, FDU-INKINGI Chair, was brought to the High Court for a bail appeal hearing. The Prosecutor admitted that the copies of mails adduced as evidence were printed many days after the arrest and that the 14th October PRO-JUSTITIA statements related to the arrest of the key witness and the defendant contain inaccurate details and troubling inconsistencies. In this case , the first paragraph of article 102 of the LAW N° 13/2004 OF 17/5/2004 RELATING TO THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, O.G SPECIAL Nº OF 30/07/2004 should apply: “When a Magistrate or Judge does not find sufficient evidence for prosecution, an accused person shall be immediately released”.

The Defence Counsel is composed by the Bâtonnier GATERA GASHABANA (Kigali), Barristers Robert Alun JONES (London) and Iain EDWARDS (London). They challenged the Prosecutor’s submission and especially the accuracy of the judiciary statements justifying the arrest of the opposition leader.

The interrogation of the key witness was backdated. The official information that the arrest of the defendant was prompted by allegations made by the key witness upon his arrest is misleading. The allegation that he was found with bunches of mail copies is a fake too. They were printed and edited in collaboration with the key witness on 19th October 2010 while the defendant was already in detention.

The prosecutor struggled to persuade the Court and instead produced “fresh evidence” that has never been mentioned any time before. This looks like an endless state persecution. There is no doubt that new fake evidence will be produced every week. In this particular case, no chance to have a fair trial in Rwanda. This is a blatant violation of international conventions on human rights.

The submission of petition to the Security Council and to the Human Rights Commissioner in this respect is to be seriously considered. Since February 2010, Paul KAGAME’s government has been using the judiciary apparatus to thwart the opposition and to keep opposition leaders in prison. All the bilateral partners of Rwanda have recently received a 6 page justification of the overwhelming evidence linking Ms. Victoire INGABIRE to a terrorist organisation and no serious grounds have been established. The verdict will be known on Friday, at 15:00. There are no further doubts about the political dimension of this trial.

We call for the immediate release of Ms. Victoire INGABIRE and other opposition leaders.

Sylvain SIBOMANA
FDU-INKINGI
Secretary General

November 9, 2010   No Comments