Mbarushimana before French courts
A French court on October 27th refused to release Callixte Mbarushimana, raising expectations that he will soon be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC wants him for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mbarushimana’s arrest in Paris on an ICC arrest warrant has been hailed as an important step against impunity for serious human rights abuses in eastern DRC. But victims groups are wondering whether allegations that he also participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda will ever be followed up.
Mbarushimana, a Rwandan, is the Secretary General of the FDLR, a Hutu rebel group active in eastern DRC. He had been living in France, which recognised his refugee status, since 2003.
Survivors of the genocide in Rwanda allege that Mbarushimana was involved in the killing of at least 32 people in Kigali in 1994. They further claim that as an employee of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he used the infrastructure of the UN to assist in organising and executing the genocide. In June 2005, the UN Secretary General’s office requested France to initiate proceedings against him but no steps appear to have been taken. Instead, in 2005, he was elected deputy Secretary General of the FDLR, and in 2008 he became its Secretary General, continuing to use his Paris base to defend the FDLR’s activities.