Considering that Rwandan judicial system has shown to be not independent and impartial and considering that the Rwandan government has failed to improve it, we believe that Mr Habinshuti would not get a free and fair trial, if he is deported.
Our organisation and other human rights organisation have studies in depth the state of the justice system in Rwanda, through documenting and analysing various cases that went through it courts in the last 8 years.
The main challenges identified in Rwandan justice system are the following:
Judges can never reach to a judgement decision that is deferent from the one expressed by a government officials publically or in media.
Law enforcement authorities are more concerned about by wishes and orders from government officers in relation to arrest and imprisonments of people than concerned about people breaching the law.
Critics of the Rwandans government and those who worked for the government and left due to disagreements are more likely to be accused and charged with crimes relating to genocide, crime against humanity, genocide denying, endangering the national security and given hash sentences than those who alleged to have participated in those kind of crimes.
There is no presumption of innocence until proven guilty in Rwanda. All suspects are guilty before any court hearing and are portrayed like that by politicians and government supporting media.
During court hearing witnesses of defendants found fail or refuse to attend court hearing due to fear of harassments, imprisonments and due experiences of intimidation.
Defence lawyers are often given proportionally very short time to cross examine prosecution witnesses and short time to make their case than time given to prosecution lawyers.
Defence lawyers are often intimidated and threatened with imprisonments when they found to be effectively challenging prosecution evidences.
We have also been surprised that Justice Michael L. Phelan decision to reject Mr Habinshuti deportation appeal was mainly based on his alleged role in a meeting that ultimately triggered the 1994 genocide.
We believe that if he had participated in that ‘’meeting’’ and if that meeting had an important impact to the 1994 genocide, Mr Habinshuti would not have been free to work in post-genocide government and subsequently be able to became a member of parliament from 1999 to 2003.
Furthermore considering that Mr Habinshuti never faced war crimes charges he should be allowed to stay in Canada and enjoy his family life.
Global Campaign for Rwandan’s Human Rights is ready to offer to Canadian government and to other relevant authorities a comprehensive assessment on state of the current justice in Rwanda and effective ways Canada can help Rwanda to improve it.
Rene C Mugenzi
Chairman - Senior Human Rights Researcher
Global Campaign for Rwandan’s Human Rights
PS: Use hash-tag #FreeHabinshuti to campaign for Habinshuti release.