Rwanda asks UN court to overturn French arrest warrants over genocide

Rwanda asks UN court to overturn French arrest warrants over genocide

Rwanda applied today to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to quash arrest warrants issued by a French judge last year against senior Rwandan Government and military officials and a request to the United Nations that President Paul Kagame stand trial at the UN war crimes tribunal dealing with the 1994 genocide.

Rwanda applied today to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to quash arrest warrants issued by a French judge last year against senior Rwandan Government and military officials and a request to the United Nations that President Paul Kagame stand trial at the UN war crimes tribunal dealing with the 1994 genocide.

The application relates to the downing in Kigali on 6 April 1994 of an aircraft carrying the then presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, an incident that sparked the subsequent genocide in Rwanda.

Last November a French judge issued arrest warrants against a series of Rwandan officials, including the Chief of General Staff of its Defence Forces, the Chief of Protocol to the Presidency and the Rwandan Ambassador to India.

By issuing those warrants, France is violating international law concerned with international and diplomatic immunities, as well as Rwanda’s sovereignty, and the warrants should be annulled immediately, Rwanda stated in its application.

The African nation said the judge’s report was also sent to the UN Secretary-General with the request that Mr. Kagame be brought for trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Such an action means France “has acted in breach of the obligation of each and every State to refrain from intervention in the affairs of other States,” Rwanda argued.

The ICJ said in a press release that the application has been sent to the French Government and, in accordance with its rules, no action will be taken by the court unless France consents to ICJ jurisdiction in the case.

Estimates vary but some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, are thought to have been killed by Hutu militias and others over a 100-day period in Rwanda in 1994.