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US Appeals Court affirms Paul Kagame cannot be sued in Oklahoma City due to presidential immunity

US Appeals Court Affirms Oklahoma Rwandan Ruling

Paul Kagame - Rwanda

OKLAHOMA CITY October 11, 2012 (AP) – A federal appeals court refused Wednesday to revive a lawsuit that alleges Rwandan President Paul Kagame ordered the deaths of the former leaders of Rwanda and Burundi.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver handed down the decision in a lawsuit filed by the widows of Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the former president of Burundi.

The two leaders were aboard an aircraft that was shot down by two surface-to-air missiles as it approached the Rwandan capital of Kigali on April 16, 1994. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court says their deaths fueled the Rwandan genocide, which spread violence across East Central Africa and led to the deaths of between 500,000 and 1 million people.

The men’s widows filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City that blamed Kagame for their husbands’ deaths and sought $350 million in damages under the Alien Tort Claims Act and a variety of state, federal and international laws.

The lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma because Kagame has ongoing contact with the state due to the Rwandan government’s affiliation with Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

The lawsuit alleges that Kagame ordered the attack himself during a meeting with others who were instructed to form a team specialized in the use of surface-to-air missiles furnished by Uganda. The alleged conspiracy involved members of the non-governmental Rwanda Patriotic Army, according to the appeals court’s ruling. Kagame has denied involvement in the assassinations.

But the decision says identifying those responsible for downing the aircraft is not necessary to the case because Kagame, as the sitting head of a foreign state, is immune from the court’s jurisdiction while he is in office.

After the lawsuit was filed, the U.S. government, at the request of the Rwandan government, submitted legal papers that suggested Kagame’s immunity and said the U.S. Constitution gives the president sole responsibility to represent the nation in its foreign relations.

The assassinations of the former leaders brought ethnic tensions between Rwanda’s majority Hutus and Tutsis to the breaking point and triggered a wave of violence. The killings spread across the country and lasted about 100 days until Kagame, a Tutsi and the leader of the rebel army, overthrew the Hutu-led government. Habyarimana was a Hutu.

His widow, Agathe Habyarimana, lives in France and is wanted in Rwanda on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. France denied her request for asylum in 2004, but last year French courts refused to allow her to be extradited.

Source: Associated Press.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

Jeanette Kagame’s Letter To The Girls Of Rwanda

Rwanda First Lady Jeanette Kagame has authored a letter to all Rwanda girls, urging them “to become women of integrity in your own right.”

As the world celebrates the ‘International Day of the Girl Child,’ Kagame says it is now up to “you to step up, claim what you have always had the right to have, join the boys and show that you are also capable.”

Below is the Kagame’s letter in full published Thursday.

A letter to the Girls of Rwanda

Abakobwa bacu,

Today we celebrate the ‘International Day of the Girl Child.’

A day that the whole world has dedicated to you; day that will promote your rights as girls, highlight gender inequalities that remain between you and your brothers and look for ways to correct any discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the globe.

We in Rwanda for the first time are celebrating ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ and as a nation we honour our young girls and prepare you to become women of integrity in your own right.

I would like to remind you of the strength that you carry within you.

Rwanda continues to do its best to create a level playing field for you and your brothers. Opportunities have been laid forth for you; schools, programs, scholarships to mention a few.

It is now up to you to step up, claim what you have always had the right to have, join the boys and show that you are also capable.

We are behind you all the way. So seize every chance and do so with confidence!

As I am sure your parents, guardians and mentors have told you, it takes more than a good education and the right opportunities to become a woman of strength. I urge you to also cultivate your character by asserting yourselves, recognizing the talents and importance of others but most importantly discovering your self-worth – the Rwandan “Agaciro”.

Learn to love yourself and build yourself both from self evaluation and accepting constructive criticism from others. Maintain your core values of honesty, integrity and loyalty, in order to stay true to yourselves and lead others.

As they say, great leaders are those that lead by example. So start now. Wisdom will come with age, but you can start to acquire it through open-mindedness and self discipline.

Young girls, our futures are defined by our choices we make along the way.

Believe in yourself and in your dreams, always have hope and your dreams will most certainly come true. Most importantly, there is no doubt whatsoever that you are all valuable, so never ever settle for less than what you know you are worth.

With love

Mrs. Jeannette Kagame

First Lady of Rwanda News

October 11, 2012   No Comments