In July 2017, during a professional visit with my clients, political prisoners of the ICTR detained in Mali and Benin, I met authorities from both countries to discuss the collective problems of the prisoners. As President of the Rwandan Political Prisoners Support Network (RPPSN), accompanied by our local representatives, Mr. Seydou Doumbia of Mali and Mr. Sadikou Alao of Benin, we were very well received in both countries. The list of political prisoners is attached at the end of this report.
Problems of the ICTR prisoners.
- Unfair imprisonment
The ICTR prisoners in both countries suffer primarily from their unfair imprisonment with full knowledge that most of the convictions are based on dishonest testimony accepted unfortunately by the judges who often arbitrarily dismissed the defence testimony. These prisoners also suffer terribly knowing that Rwandan Patriotic Front Rwandan criminal aggressors committed premeditated crimes in full view of their Western sponsors and with their encouragement. These criminals benefit from full impunity by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda while at the same time these victors in the war hold absolute power in Rwanda with the blessing of the West.
These dignified prisoners held in Mali and Benin have their heads high and seek justice and truth. They are confronted with the serious problems in obtaining a review of their judgments. They live in harmony with each other in two distinct communities and work together to promote their collective interests.
Cancellation of Medical services (hopefully temporary). Interruption of communication with the Tribunal and their counsel, reduction in food services
At the Koulikoro Prison in Mali, medical visits were interrupted due to a change of service. These cuts put the health of prisoners at risk. The Régisseur of the prison interrupts and/or prevents communication of the prisoners with the Tribunal and lawyers. We hope that this problem has been rectified since we left. There are cuts in the supply of food.
Prisoners Released in Mali
Released prisoners (5) have no right to work even if they have a temporary identity document. They demand legal integration into Malian life. They rightly claim the same advantages of prisoners acquitted or released in Tanzania with medical services and financial support. They refuse extradition to Rwanda.
Meetings in Mali with Authorities
With our representative in Mali, Mr. Seydou Doumbia, we met Mr. Sombe Thera, Secretary General, Ministry of Justice of Mali, who promised us in writing to pay particular attention to our concerns. The meeting was very cordial and professional. We expressed our disagreement with the public comments made by the Minister of Justice of Mali in Rwanda around 9 March 2017.
The reception at the prison in Koulikoro, Mali was very cordial and professional.
Savage attacks on the prisoners of the ICTR by prisoners of the National wing.
On June 3, 2016, between 6 and 12 prisoners invaded the UN prisoners’ quarters in the Akpro-Missérété civil prison, Porto Novo, Benin
Luckily, a few shots in the air by the authorities prevented deaths or serious injuries. There had been some minor events before. The ICTR prisoners requested a back door to access the main courtyard of the prison. This request has not yet been granted despite the intervention of the Red Cross.
Benin: Released Prisoners (2).
The two released persons have no document enabling integration into daily life in Benin. They refuse extradition to Rwanda. They request the same services of the Tribunal as the acquitted or released prisoners who are in Tanzania: health services and financial support.
Meetings with Authorities in Benin
We met with the Beninese authorities on the issue of documentation and regularization of the situation of the two persons released. In the presence of Mr. Sadikou Alao, our representative in Benin, we met:
- Mr Joseph Djogbenou, Minister of Justice
- Mr. Sacca Lafia, Minister of the Interior and Public Security
- Mr Marc Hermanne G Araba, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
- Me Yvon Détchénou, Bâtonnier of Benin
The reception was very cordial and we are optimistic about the situation of the released persons obtaining full documentation and right to work etc.
With the Minister of Justice, we discussed the invasion of the international sector of the Akpro-Missérété civil prison, Porto Novo, Benin to request an alternative exit gate.
We were pleased to learn that it would be extremely difficult to extradite political prisoners to Rwanda.
The reception at the Akpro-Missérété civil prison, Porto Novo, Benin was very cordial and professional.
We did not visit Arusha, Tanzania. There are prisoners at liberty (acquitted or released) and a dozen political prisoners who are likely to be sent to Senegal and Benin.
Appendix I Political Prisoners of the ICTR in Mali and Benin
Maison d’arrêt de Koulikoro
- Tharcisse Renzaho
- Jean Kambanda
- Yussuf Munyakazi
- Dominique Ntawukulilyayo
- Jean Paul Akayesu
- Théoneste Bagosora
- Jean De Dieu Kamuhanda
- Alfred Musema
- Eliezer Niyitegeka
- Mika Muhimana
- Sylvestre Gacumbitsi
- Hassan Ngeze,
- Laurent Semanza
- Ferdinand Nahimana
- Paul Bisengimana
- Samuel Imanishimwe
- Obed Ruzindana
- Emmanuel Rukundo
La prison civile d’Akpro-Missérété, Porto Novo, Bénin
- Aloys Ntabakuze
- Jean Baptiste Gatete
- Ildephonse Hategekimana
- Juvénal Kajelijeli
- Gaspard Kanyarukiga
- François Karera
- Siméon Nchamihigo
- Emmanuel Ndindabahizi
- Athanase Seromba
- Aloys Simba
- Simon Bikindi
- Gérard Ntakirutimana