Report Critical of United Nations Human Rights Policy in Rwanda
KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ The United Nations risks losing its credibility in Rwanda because many believe it is protecting killers from last year’s genocide rather than helping bring them to justice, a U.N. official acknowledged Thursday.
``If I was a Rwandese citizen I would also wonder why no action is taken against people who clearly seem to have been part of the genocide,″ said U.N. special representative Shahayar Khan.
A report by the watchdog group African Rights charges that the United Nations may be helping to ensure that those responsible in the slayings of 500,000 people last year escape justice.
Released last month, the report accuses the 100-member U.N. human rights mission in Rwanda of focusing almost exclusively on human rights violations by the current government, while ignoring last year’s massacres.
Officials of the U.N. human rights mission in Kigali say they investigated the genocide early on, and that the report’s criticisms are based on comments of disgruntled former employees.
Large numbers of Rwandan Hutu extremists who took part in the bloodletting have taken refuge in camps in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi. They have continued to be fed by the United Nations and non-governmental aid agencies while planning cross-border attacks on the new, Tutsi-led Rwandan government.
Tens of thousands of Rwandans also sought refuge in camps inside Rwanda, which the government began shutting 2 1/2 weeks ago, saying they were sheltering Hutu extremists who took part in the genocide.
The United Nations sent a fleet of trucks to the Kibeho camp on Thursday in the hope that the last holdouts would leave the squalid settlement.
The Hutu refugees, afraid they’ll be killed by the Tutsi-led army, have changed their minds at least twice at the last moment and refused to leave the camp, emptied April 23 after a massacre that killed thousands.
Political and military leaders in the former Hutu-led government who planned the mass killings to rid Rwanda of the minority Tutsi population have been able to live comfortably in African or European capitals on plundered wealth, while the new administration in Kigali lacks money to pay its staff.
Khan said the delay in prosecuting the killers is because an international tribunal is still being put into place. He said he was sure it will ultimately bring about 400 of the ``big fish″ to justice.
He said it will be the job of the Rwandan government to prosecute the ``little fish″ _ approximately 36,000 people already being held on suspicion of participating in genocide. The United Nations is to provide magistrates and prosecutors, borrowed mainly from other African countries.
The report written by Rakiya Omaar, co-director of London-based African Rights, said the U.N. rights mission has devoted ``much of its time and resources to a meticulous _ and sometimes over-meticulous _ protection of the rights of those accused of genocide.″
Based on interviews with government officials and about two dozen U.N. monitors, the report describes workers without clear instructions interfering with arrests of genocide suspects, usually branding them ``arbitrary.″
Some of the report’s criticisms were echoed by non-governmental agencies in Kigali.
Rowland Roome, director of Care International in Rwanda, warned that delays in justice could lead the current government to take matters into its own hands, with possibly brutal results.