There seems to be no precise standard procedures on how to recognize and deal with acts of genocide. Since the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, there have been crimes that were officially characterized as genocides. In places like Rwanda, Yugoslavia or Sudan, conclusions were formally reached by different entities.
An example is the case of Rwanda. In July 1994, a Commission of Human Rights Experts handed a 30-page report to Boutros-Boutros Ghali. The then General Secretary of the UN was bold enough to state that [a]cts of genocide against the Tutsi group were perpetrated by Hutu elements in a concerted, planned, systematic and methodical way. “These acts of mass extermination against the Tutsi group as such constitute genocide within the meaning of article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.
The conclusion was reached without a competent court involvement.
After they launched their attack in April 1994, The RPF issued communiqués stating the Rwandan government was committing genocide against Tutsis. This was its justification for resuming fighting and breaking away from the Arusha Accords. Also at this time, no one contested the findings of UN experts, their methodology or their competence.
Two months later, the Rwandan tribunal (ICTR) was established by the United Nations Security Council by its resolution 955 of 8 November 1994. ICTR creation was a result of the genocide conclusion drawn from recommendations by the UN experts, backed by a Special Rapporteur for Rwanda of the Commission of Human Rights, Mr Rene Degni-Segui.
Although the report concluded that, in addition to the genocide of the Tutsi, war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by soldiers of the RPA, as well as by forces of the Rwandan government, the BBC and CNN did their propaganda duty and only repeated the genocide claims as facts and have been doing so ever since. The rest of the servile mass media in the west have simply repeated death figures without question.
ICTR’s mandate was not to establish whether genocide crimes occur in Rwanda first. The court was only tasked to prosecute the perpetrators. At ICTR, the prosecution team did bother to provide evidence of genocide crimes, they brought no RPF officers to testify which is what the defence teams was expecting, no UN officers, no NGO witnesses. No one was brought to say we were in such and such a place and we saw this happen.
The only “witnesses” they brought to testify against suspects were from two groups. Most of them (90%) were Hutu prisoners held by the RPF for over ten years, without charge, all tortured and who were sent to the ICTR by the RPF with stories they had been told to repeat about supposed killings. But everyone one of them fell apart when questioned and all had been promised release if they testified. Several later contacted the tribunal and defence to retract their testimony (some escaped prison, some were released and fled the country) and stated they had been threatened that if they did not give false testimony they were never getting out of prison. This happened in a recent case just a few months ago. An example is a code-named “Witness GFR“whose testimony was droped by the court after he sent a letter denouncing his own testimony.
The second group of witnesses came from two RPF front groups, IBUKA and AVEGA, the “genocide survivor” support groups. It was proved during the trials that these groups were funded by the RPF, were controlled by the DMI (Directorate of Military Intelligence) and were meeting together to decide on the stories they were to give when they testify.
Outside court, several ex-RPF officers testified that they had been involved in providing these “witnesses” with prepared scripts they had to memorise and repeat in the trials and that all the testimony from prosecution witnesses was false. One Major in the RPF who had fled the regime back in 2001 once met with an ICTR Lead Counsel in Brussels and confessed to him that he had scripted all the witnesses in a certain Akayesu’s trial.
The word genocide is mentioned 193 times
In the case of violence in Congo, a similar commission of Human Rights Experts was established. It produced a 566-page report, where the word genocide is mentioned 193 times. However, despite all evidence, the commission failed short to conclude that genocide against the Hutu group were perpetrated. Instead the authors took a safer stand and preferred to say that “the apparent systematic and widespread attacks described in this report reveal a number of inculpatory elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide.” (Paragraph 31 on page 14 of the Mapping report).
The commission shifted on someone-else’s shoulder the responsibility to categorize what happened in Congo. And they added a clause to it: A competent court must prove, approve or decide. Which competent court is referred to here? Only God knows.
While the UN Mapping Report stated that its findings in Congo, if proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide, we know that in Rwandan case no court was used to prove atrocities as genocide. As far as we know, the Tutsi genocide was first determined and, as a result, ICTR tribunal was created, not the other way round.
Who is supposed to call for formal or legal investigation into the killing of Hutu and Congolese people in Congo? Since there in no competent court today, which body is going to take action to decide or conclude that there has been (or not) genocide on Hutu ethnic group and seek justice for the millions of Congolese deaths?
The only glimpse of hope is that the reported atrocities by the UN mapping report happened in the DRC territory and the government of the DRC refused to sideline with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Congolese government “believes in the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal for the DRC to deal with the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, including the use of rape as an instrument of war, and massive violations of human rights.” The DRC government has the right to put up a case for an international court to prosecute. But Kinshasa has to abandon its condition that the international court has to be part of its judicial system. Knowing how corruption is rampant in Congo, it wouldn’t be a good idea.
“They’re never going to charge the RPF, because it would be too dangerous. If you start charging the RPF, RPF officers, to save their necks, are going to start talking about others. And then you’re going to get up to the Americans and the British and the Canadians and the Belgians. The whole thing would fall apart. They don’t dare do that” said ICTR defence lawyer Christopher Black