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New US regulation imposes ‘non DR Congo origin’ certificate on mineral exports from Rwanda

Kendall Brown
Demonstrator outside Oklahoma Christian University, protested not only Kagame’s role in the Rwanda Genocide, but also his invasions of neighboring D.R. Congo, to plunder its mineral wealth. The lawsuit also alleges that Kagame and his officers and officials are guilty of racketeering to control the resources of eastern Congo.
see: Lawsuit alleges Rwandan President triggered Rwanda Genocide

Mineral exports from Rwanda will have to be proved with certificates that they are not from the DR Congo before they are bought by American companies, according to new regulations passed by the US Senate on Thursday.

The financial industry reform bill, passed in Senate July 15, requires companies buying coltan, cassiterite, wolframite and gold from Congo and its neighbors to certify the purchases aren’t funding armed groups.

Minerals from Rwanda require certification that they are “DRC conflict free,” according to the bill. The regulation also affects eight other countries neighbouring Congo including Angola, Tanzania and Uganda.

War in Congo killed more than 3 million people from 1998 to 2007, says the International Rescue Committee, and rebels still roam the mineral-rich east of the country.

This section of the U.S. bill is aimed at preventing armed groups such as the Rwandan FDLR rebels from enriching themselves and funding conflict through the sale of minerals, say the Americans.

However, despite being applauded by global campaign groups, mineral exporters in Congo say it is effectively an embargo on the whole of DR Congo.

“We are totally shocked by the passing of this bill which is in spirit an embargo on materials from DRC and adjoining countries,” said John Kanyoni, head of the Association of Mineral Exporters in Congo’s eastern North Kivu province.

The demands of the bill are infeasible, Kanyoni wrote yesterday in an open letter to the U.S. embassy’s economic consular in Congo. The requirements will also undermine efforts to increase transparency in the trade, he said.

Congo is Africa’s largest producer of cassiterite, or tin ore, making up 6 percent of world output. It’s also home to the biggest undeveloped gold deposit on the continent, held by a joint venture between Randgold Resources Ltd. and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. More than 80 percent of the country’s gold trade is unregistered, according to mines ministry estimates.

Human Rights

Activists and humanitarian groups applauded the amendment, which gives the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission nine months to come up with an implementation plan.

U.K.-based Global Witness called the bill’s passage a “breakthrough against conflict and corruption,” according to an e-mailed statement. U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services said on its website that the bill was a “huge victory for those ravaged by conflict.”

“The world moved a step closer to ensuring that the supply chains for our laptops and cell phones do not finance violence in eastern Congo,” John Prendergast, co-founder of the U.S.- based Enough Project, said in an e-mailed statement July 15.

The New York-based Jewelers of America trade group was “very concerned” the bill “could encourage jewelry companies to avoid trading in gold from the region, in order to bypass the issue completely,” it said yesterday on its website.

The amendment, introduced by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama next week along with the financial reform bill.

From the day President Obama signs the bill, the Securities and Exchange Commission will have nine months to develop regulations implementing the new law. It will be up to all of us to ensure that these regulations are as strong as possible, writes Dr Victoria Bentley on her blog.

This legislation is a piece of the broader solution. We now have to turn our attention from the legislative branch of our government to the executive branch, to ensure that the Obama administration helps lead an international effort to create what we call a “trace, audit, and certify” regime to ensure that the raw materials that go into our cell phones and laptops are not fueling conflict.

Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Barney Frank (D-MA), along with many other upstanding members of Congress, deserve special praise for leading this battle over the past two years.

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July 18, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan leader Paul Kagame meets hostility in Spain

Demonstrators in Madrid protest against Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame.

July 18, 2010   1 Comment

UN Secretary General demands full investigation into killings of opposition figures in Rwanda

Ban Ki-moon demands full investigation amid claims of crackdown before next month’s poll

The United Nations has demanded a full investigation into allegations of politically motivated killings of opposition figures in Rwanda in the run-up to the country’s election next month.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon demanded the inquiry in a meeting with Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, after a series of attacks on figures unpopular with the regime in Rwanda and in several other African states.

Last week a senior opposition figure was beheaded near the southern Rwandan city of Butare, while a lawyer who had participated in genocide trials at a UN tribunal was shot dead in Dar es Salaam. Last week’s killings come hard on the heels of the attempted murder in Pretoria, South Africa, of a former senior Rwandan general who had fallen out with Kagame, and the murder in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, of a journalist investigating that shooting.

Two opposition newspapers in Rwanda have been banned from publishing, while opposition politicians and human rights organisations have been harassed by the authorities.

A spokesman for Ban said: “The secretary-general?…?noted the upcoming elections in Rwanda and expressed concern about recent incidents causing political tensions. He stressed the need to uphold human rights. The secretary-general encouraged the Rwandan authorities to take immediate action, including a thorough investigation into the latest incidents, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, pulled out of a scheduled meeting with Kagame on Friday after receiving a petition alleging he had violated human rights. The meeting in Spain was the first to be held by a group of experts named last month by Ban to supervise the UN’s Millenium Development Goals, which aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Ban had prompted protests by naming Kagame and Zapatero as his co-chairmen.

“The prime minister yesterday received a petition from various political groups saying that they didn’t think it was appropriate for the meeting to take place,” the deputy prime minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, told Spanish television.

Rwandan government figures have strenuously denied orchestrating a campaign of violence and intimidation and offered alternative explanations for several of the attacks, including robbery and a vengeance killing related to the genocide trial.

The 1994 genocide – the murder of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, ended by a Tutsi military intervention headed by Kagame – has continued to dominate the politics of the still fragile country.

After ending the genocide, Kagame was hailed as a hero, but critics have since accused him of trampling on political and press freedoms.

Despite remarkable progress in stabilising the country, tension has been growing in Rwanda since 19 February, when a series of grenade explosions killed three people and injured 30 more in Kigali. Some analysts attributed those attacks not to Hutu extremists but to Tutsi dissidents within Kagame’s own party.

The former general who was wounded in Pretoria, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, was publicly accused by Rwanda’s chief prosecutor of being behind the grenade attacks, while the journalist murdered in Kigali, Jean Leonard Rugambage, was investigating government links to his attempted murder.

Since then, however, a number of other senior military figures have been arrested – allegedly those harbouring rival political ambitions to Kagame – suggesting splits within Kagame’s regime. Among them was Brigadier-General Jean Bosco Kazura, the head of the country’s football federation, who was taken into custody for making an “unauthorised” trip to South Africa. The government reportedly suspected that he had travelled to meet prominent Rwandan exiles living there.

The case of the decapitated politician, André Kagwa Rwisereka, is also instructive. He belonged to Rwanda’s Green party, which was set up by Frank Habineza, a Tutsi exile from Uganda, like Kagame, who is also a former member of Kagame’s RPF. The party was prevented from running in the elections.

Habineza, who says he has also received death threats, complained last week that the government had refused to give opposition leaders protection.

“It is very sad and shocking that we heard that our vice-president was murdered. His head was almost cut off and he was also stabbed in the chest. We would like now to call upon the Rwandan government and the national police to carry out a thorough investigation,” he said.

Amnesty International set out concerns in April, echoing the view of other human rights organisations. “Recent months have seen a number of government measures against critics and opponents of the government, including restrictions on freedom of expression and association,” it said. “Amnesty International urges the Rwandan government to respect freedom of expression and association, including by allowing space for human rights work.”

Source: The Guardian – Deadly attacks on Rwandan opposition spark warning by UN.

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July 18, 2010   No Comments

Commonwealth urged to act over Rwandan election unrest

Caroline Lucas, with other Green Party leaders in the Commonwealth, is urging action after the killing of the deputy leader of the Rwandan Green Party, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka.

In the lead-up to Rwanda’s presidential vote on the 9th August, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has been subject to harassment, intimidation, and death threats. Police have broken up party meetings, and the party has been barred from registering or putting up candidates for the election. (1)

A letter was sent yesterday to the Commonwealth’s Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, co-signed by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Sen. Bob Brown (leader of the Australian Greens) and Russel Norman (leader, New Zealand Greens).

It calls on Sharma to take urgent steps to enforce the Commonwealth’s standards of human rights and democracy in Rwanda. (2)

In part, the joint-letter from Lucas, Brown and Norman reads:

“The death of Green Party Vice President, Mr. Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was found dead on 14th July 2010, is a tragic event and we are extremely concerned for the other members of the Rwandan Green Party.

“Mr. Rwisereka’s death follows on from a series of events in the last few months that suggest that the Rwandan government is creating or allowing an extremely hostile environment for opposition political parties in the run up to Presidential elections on 9 August.

“Rwanda’s membership of the Commonwealth requires that it honors and complies with the Commonwealth’s fundamental political principles which include respect for civil society and human rights.

“We urge you to immediately send a team of Commonwealth representatives to Rwanda to ensure the Government is taking all steps possible to ensure respect for rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly of opposition parties.”


1) 15th July 2010, The Independent

2) This week, Reporters Without Borders also called on the European Union and other donors to suspend financial support for the election because of “a series of grave press freedom violations.”

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July 18, 2010   No Comments

ICTR Defense Lawyers Condemn Murder of ICTR Lawyer Mwaikusa: Continuing Threats from Rwandan Government

Prof Mwaikusa - ICTR Lawyer

Jwani Mwaikusa, law professor at the University of Dar es Salaam and defense lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, was gunned down outside his home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on July 13.

July 16 –ARUSHA, TZ -The Bureau of the ICTR Association des Avocats de la Defense (ADAD), notes with sadness and alarm the murder of our ICTR colleague University of Dar es Salaam Law Professor Jwani Mwaikusa, who was shot to death at his home on July 14. Professor Mwaikusa had recently prevented the transfer of ICTR defendants to Rwanda on “lack of fair” trial grounds, and recently annnounced the appeal of his client’s July 3 conviction.

Our colleague’s murder is not an isolated incident. Within the past month, a prominent Rwandan opposition journalist was also shot to death in front of his home; a former Rwandan general survived an apparent assassination attempt in South Africa, where he is seeking asylum; the de-capitated body of the Rwandan Green Party Vice-president was found near his car two days ago, and, the Green Party’s President has been publicly threatened with assassination.

Hundreds of potential opposition candidates and supporters have been arrested or disappeared. Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire was arrested on “genocide denial” charges for suggesting that both Tutsi and Hutu were victims during the 1990-94 civil war and genocide, as were her Dutch, U.S. and Rwandan lawyers.

The murder of Dr. Mwaikusa also follows the illegal arrest of other lawyers representing alleged opponents of the Rwandan government. U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder on “genocide denial” criminal charges, arising from his work in the ICTR Military 1 Trial, which acquitted four senior military officers on “genocide conspiracy” charges in February 2009, and his representation of Madame Ingabire. After Erlinder’s arrest, ICTR defense lawyers refusing to participate in proceedings and he was released in June after an international campaign.

But, the Rwandan government continues to refuse to recognize UN-granted immunity for Erlinder or other ICTR defense counsel. ICTR defense lawyer Peter Robinson (a former Assistant U.S. Attorney) has notified the court that meaningful defense of ICTR clients is not possible and he has asked to withdraw. Other ICTR defense attorneys are considering similar measures.

Rwandan government threats to ICTR defense counsel are also not isolated incidents. In 2006 ICTR defense lawyer Me. Gakwaya was arrested on a Rwandan “genocide” warrant when he arrived at the ICTR and he was forced to end his ICTR work. Many other defense team members have also been forced to give up the ICTR work, because of threats or arrest by the Rwanda government. The charges against Erlinder, the Mwaikusa murder and continuing threats against ICTR defense teams make in clear that ICTR defense team members cannot take their safety for granted anywhere in Africa.

In addition, during the past-2 months credible media reports have documented the systematic withholding of evidence helpful to the defense by the ICTR Prosecutor, which further deepens our concern because only the losing side in the Rwanda civil war has been prosecuted at the ICTR. The ADAD Bureau is deeply concerned that the impossibility of meaningful defense at the ICTR has now made the legitimacy of the ICTR, itself, an open question.

The ADAD Bureau calls on the UN Security Council to ensure the safety of ICTR defense teams, to undertake an independent of the Mwaikusa murder, and to re-establish the integrity of the Tribunal by fully disclosing evidence of crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 by both the former and the current government of Rwanda.

Contact: ICTR-ADAD Bureau, Arusha, TZ
Pres: Prof. Peter Erlinder ([email protected]) E
Beth Lyons ([email protected] ) Fr/E
John Philpot ([email protected]) Fr/E

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July 18, 2010   No Comments

SOS for deported Rwandan refugees

by Victoire Ingabire.

Rwandan Refugees in Uganda in great danger

According to international media, non governmental organisations and humanitarian organizations, since 14th June 2010, three refugees died, 26 others were injured and hospitalized during gunpoint massive deportations of over 1,700 Rwandan refugees from Nakivale and Kyaka refugees’ camps.

The United Democratic Forces, FDU INKINGI, express outrage and firm condemnation of this gross violation, by the government of UGANDA, of its own Citizenship and Immigration Act, as well as international laws pertaining to the protection of asylum seekers and genuine refugees. The situation is more worrisome, considering that the UNHCR distanced itself from this operation and that both governments of Uganda and Rwanda partly acknowledged their absolute dealings in this show of force.

The FDU INKINGI is surprised by the timing of this deportation of Rwandan refugees. Indeed, it comes amid reports of deepening insecurity in Rwanda, which culminated in an assassination spree targeting a party leader Mr. André Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda murdered in Butare on 14th July; an acting Editor, Mr. Jean-Léonard Rugambage, Reporter of censored independent Magazine UMUVUGIZI shot dead in Kigali on 24th June ; the disappearance of the private secretary of the president of the Parti Social Imberakuri, as well as a crackdown on opposition leaders and their subsequent torture during their detention.

This happens also barely a few days after an attempt kidnapping of former journalist and detainee, Dominique Makeli in the Uganda capital city and the attempt assassination of the former Rwandan army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa. The Ugandan government is very well aware of widespread violations of human rights in Rwanda, which legitimate the fears of refugees to return home. The Ugandan based International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and the Refugee Law Project (RLP) had warned Uganda not to yield to Rwandan government pressure and grant protection to asylum seekers. According to the UNHCR, since the beginning of 2010, 3,320 Rwandans have filed for asylum in Uganda.

The FDU INKINGI recalls that this is not the first time Rwandan refugees are forcibly banished. This was the case in Kibeho in 1995, in DRC in 1996-1997, in Burundi and in Tanzania. History shows that these push measures never solved the refugees’ problem, because they elude the root causes of the worriment.

The FDU INKINGI is particularly concerned about the secrecy of the operation. What kind of measures put in place by the Rwandan government to ensure a peaceful, humane and transparent resettlement of those returnees? Are they going to languish in camps inside Rwanda, or have their homes been secured prior to their deportation? Returnees are gathered in Rukomo camp where visibly there is no adequate transit infrastructure.

We call upon the governments of Uganda and Rwanda to suspend those operations. We expect the Human Rights and International organisations to go beyond mere condemnation of this blatant violation of international conventions, but also to follow up the process of resettlement of deportees inside Rwanda.

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
SOS for Rwandan refugees facing forced repatriation

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July 18, 2010   1 Comment