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Rwanda-The Netherlands: Bewildering Dutch Support to Kagame’s Totaritarian Regime

by Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana.

RWANDA: THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT’S ASSISTANCE TO THE TOTARITARIAN REGIME IN KIGALI IS SURPRISING

What is the Dutch government’s role alongside the regime of General Paul Kagame in the judicial circus against the political leader Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza?

The Coordinating Committee of FDU Inkingi has just learned with surprise that the Dutch government has handed over to the Rwandan government disputed documents against Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, FDU-Inkingi Chair, who is in prison for political reasons in Rwanda since October 14, 2010. It is important to recall that Madame Ingabire Umuhoza returned to Rwanda in January 2010 to register her political party and to run for presidential elections in August of that year. By sending these documents in rather obscure circumstances, the Dutch Government confirmed its complicity in a kangaroo process turned into a tool of oppression against the democratic opposition. The Rwandan national public prosecution authority confirmed that they have already received a bunch of 600 pages, whereas the ruling by the Court of Rotterdam on 23 October 2011 mentioned only three documents of less than twenty pages. From where did come more than 580 additional pages, while the Dutch police has already returned nearly all the documents taken from the residential home of Madame Ingabire during their search?

For more than five years, the Dutch government is providing more than ten million euros to support the restructuring of the justice sector and the Rwanda national police. These structures and others that are funded by the Netherlands have been exploited by the regime in order to hod on to power by silencing any opposition. The Dutch government justified its action by its confidence in the Rwandan judiciary, which it has been helping to polish.

Since the opening of the political trial of Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the defense counsel filed a motion on the non-retroactivity of the criminal law in Rwanda and on the lack of jurisdiction ratione materiae and ratione loci of the High Court. The defence submissions to strike out more than 75% of the evidence was rejected by the ruling of High Court on 13 October 2011. No appeal was possible until the final decision on the case.

Besides the fact that Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is pleading not guilty, almost all the facts in the dossier which the Prosecutor suggests amounts to the criminal evidence occurred outside the territory of Rwanda. Beyond the lack of the terrirorial jurisdiction of the high court, the non-retroactvity of the criminal law is another question. Most of the allegations did not constitute crimes under the laws in force the time they occured.

The High Court ordered defense lawyers to submit in advance their questions of cross-examination to the prosecutor’s witnesses so that they could prepare them before any public hearing. This gave them enough time to harmonise their statements to the prosecutor’s submissions.

The FDU-INKINGI Coordinating Committee believes that these violations constitute enough grounds because of their extreme gravity, for the Dutch government to call into question all the judicial cooperation with Rwanda. Otherwise this gives an impression of siding too closely with a judicial circus that is disrespectful of equity and thus protecting a dictatorship ignoring the rule of law. It is unfortunate that the Dutch taxpayers’ funds continue to be used to fund a dictatorship. Time will come when the history will question the part of the Dutch government towards the current dictatorship in Rwanda. We acknowledge the presence of some Dutch diplomats in the court room in Rwanda following the trial of Madame Victoire Ingabire, but we still strongly believe that the Dutch public needs first hand information from an independent pluridisciplinary body, assessing the unfairness of this kangaroo process.

Could it be that the Dutch government is not aware that all opponents against the Kigali regime currently in prison (Charles Ntakirutinka, Deo Mushayidi, Bernard Ntaganda, Theoneste Niyitegeka) were convicted of charges that are similar to those brought forth against Madame Ingabire: collaboration with a terrorist organization, threatening the state security, divisionism, genocide ideology, genocide denial? Could it be that the Dutch government is not aware that most political dissents and journalists critical of the Kagame regime are either assassinated (i.e. Seth Sendashonga, André Kagwa Rwisereka, Jean Leonard Rugambage), either in prison (i.e. female-journalists Mukakibibi and Uwimana Nkusi, or political leaders mentioned above), or either in exile (almost all the leaders of the Rwandan opposition)?

It is now legitimate for FDU Inkingi to challenge the interests such a democratic state may be pursuing on the side of a totalitarian regime instead of promoting democratic values for mutual and sustainable interests for the people of both Rwanda and the Netherlands.

For these reasons, we ask the Dutch government:

  • To acknowledge that the political trial of Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has lost any guarantee for fairness and impartiality;
  • To cease all judicial cooperation in the flowed case of Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and in any other legal case related to the Rwandan judicial system;
  • To request an immediate and unconditional release of Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and other political prisoners;
  • To pay more attention to the plight of Rwandan Democrats and to the opening of political space.

Done in Lausanne, November 16, 2011

For the FDU-INKINGI Coordinating Committee
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana, Coordinator.

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