(Photo by Daily Maverick)
By Simon Allison
He might not be a president, but Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake is still a very big fish. His arrest in London, on a Spanish warrant, could precipitate another crisis for international justice. A word of gratuitous advice for the British authorities: This one’s delicate! Handle with care.
Another day, another crisis for international justice.
First it was the arrival of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on South African soil, and South Africa’s ensuing failure to arrest him – defying both the International Criminal Court and South Africa’s own judiciary in the process.
Then it was the arrest in Germany of Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, detained at the airport in Berlin at the request of the Egyptian government. Egypt had convicted Mansour in absentia for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment. On Sunday, Mansour was released without charge, with the Germans citing diplomatic, legal and political concerns that could not be ignored (presumably, these have something to do with the Egyptian military regime’s notorious lack of respect for the judicial process, especially when it comes to journalists).
Finally, news broke on Tuesday that Rwandan spy chief Lieutenant-General Emmanual Karenzi Karake, head of the notorious National Intelligence and Security Services, had beenarrested in the United Kingdom while trying to depart from Heathrow. Karake is one of 40 Rwandans indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for allegedly ordering revenge massacres in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. If the process gets that far, it will be to Spain that Karake is extradited.
The three cases represent three very different facets of international justice. Bashir’s is an example of the top-down approach, where an international body investigates and prosecutes international crimes; Mansour’s is an example of the national approach, where bilateral agreements and coordinating bodies like Interpol help countries enforce their national laws in other jurisdictions; and Karake’s is an example of universal jurisdiction in action.
“The term ‘universal jurisdiction’ refers to the idea that a national court may prosecute individuals for any serious crime against international law — such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture — based on the principle that such crimes harm the international community or international order itself, which individual States may act to protect,” explains the International Justice Resource Centre.
The majority of states (163 of the 193 UN member states, according to Amnesty International) provide for some kind of universal jurisdiction, but few exercise it. Spain is a notable exception. Spain has actively prosecuted international crimes committed in faraway jurisdictions such as Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala – and, of course, Rwanda.
Karake’s arrest is a major test of universal jurisdiction in action, and there are enough allegations surrounding him to suggest that he should have his day in court. As well as the charges relating to the post-Rwandan genocide massacres, Karake is implicated in the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo during fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.
(Coincidentally, given the current comparisons with Bashir, Karake was appointed in 2007 to head the African Union/United Nations hybrid mission in Darfur, with strong backing from the US and UK. Bashir, of course, is wanted by the ICC on charges of committing genocide in Darfur).
Although the legal case for Britain to extradite Karake to Spain is solid, there are political considerations that might get in the way.
Karenzi Karake in London, on Rwanda Day. (Photo byJambo News)
The most significant is the close relationship between Britain and the Rwandan government. Rwanda is a major destination for British aid, and President Paul Kagame is advised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Already, Rwanda is putting on heavy diplomatic pressure to secure Karake’s release, with its ambassador the UK describing the arrest as “an insult”. But the British government won’t be able to ignore its courts in the South African manner. Should Karake’s arrest warrant be in order, and all procedures properly followed, it’s going to be difficult to prevent his extradition.
Which begs the question: why was Karake detained in the first place? According to media reports, Karake has made several trips to Britain since 2008, and he has been permitted to leave each time. This implies either that something has changed – most likely, that the furore around Bashir’s non-arrest forced Britain’s hand – or that some border official was a little over-zealous in the execution of his duties, and now it’s too late for anyone to turn a blind eye.
Another factor that the politicians will be considering is the ramifications that extraditing Karake will have on the already strained relations between the African continent and international justice. It will be a public relations coup for African leaders looking for further justification that they are being unfairly targeted by the West. While there are sound reasons for the German court to have released Mansour, and for a British court to extradite Karake, these decisions could just as easily be portrayed as western judiciaries choosing to enforce western arrest warrants (in the case of Spain and Karake) while refusing to enforce African justice (in the case of Egypt and Mansour).
Britain, in other words, is in an extremely delicate position. If it does go ahead with extradition proceedings, and eventually extradite Karake to Spain, it risks angering an important ally and alienating a continent – while giving self-interested leaders more fuel for their claims of western bias in international justice. If it doesn’t, it will have to defy its own rule of law, potentially dealing a crippling blow to the concept of universal jurisdiction in the process. It’s a legal and political minefield, complicated by a diplomatic storm that shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. No one ever said international justice was easy.
Photo: AP Congolese citizens look at tank shells lying next to the roadside, left behind by retreating government troops as they fled an assault by M23 rebels, in eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Thousands of Congolese soldiers and policemen defected to the M23 rebels Wednesday, as rebel leaders vowed to take control of all Congo, including the capital Kinshasa. The rebels organized a rally at Goma’s Stadium of Volcanoes Wednesday after seizing control of the strategic city in eastern Congo Tuesday.
Two Palestinian youngsters look through the rubble of their destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza strip Photo: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.”
― Herbert Hoover
BY ARTHUR ASIIMWE, 9 AUGUST 2012,
“I received a message from a European friend recently asking me:
Why Rwanda was again at war with its vast neighbour, DRC.
As I laboured to explain the background to this crisis and showing how DRC’s conflict is a cocktail of so many interests at hand, he’s questions only pointed to one thing: the ignorance out there on the real problems that sparked the latest wave of fighting.
This misrepresentation and distortions of facts is mainly the work of some loud-mouthed groups masquerading as humanitarian NGOs but also made worse by the rumours carried in the infamous GoE interim report.
As a result of this diversion, the international community has completely ignored the root causes of the problem and instead fallen in the trap of aggravating the conflict to one seemingly between Rwanda and DRC.
There seems to be a deliberate intention to undermine the reasons for the M-23 uprising and international actors have conspired to portray these rebels as a group of mutinous rogue soldiers whose demands are farfetched or whose sole reason is to wreck havoc.
There’s also a false impression created by these foreign actors bent on downplaying the military capabilities of this rebel group and instead suggesting a ‘foreign hand’ in their military advances.
But this is simply fooling the world.
Much as any rebellion to a legitimate government should be discouraged, it is equally important to contextualise issues and take time to digest the underlying causes of such a rebellion. This has not been the case with the M-23 rebellion – they have largely been denied a voice.
By the time of writing this column, an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was taking place in Uganda’s capital Kampala. One of the key proposals tabled was setting up an international neutral force to deal with the rebels inside eastern DRC.
Though we are yet to learn what kind of mandate this force will have, what I can predict is a clash of egos mainly from foreign actors whose involvement in the Kampala meeting has seemingly been minimal.
They will work hard to undermine the establishment of this force because it comes as a slap in the face of Monusco and certain individuals within this UN body will use all means to discredit it or bad-mouth it using international NGOs.
Then there is the questionable seriousness of the Congolese government when it comes to the implementation of this proposed new initiative. The problem with the guys in Kinshasa is that they agree to something today and do the opposite tomorrow.
There have been so many regional initiatives, from the Lusaka Accord to the Pretoria Agreement to Nairobi Declaration to Tripartite Plus – and now what will come out of the Kampala talks – yet all these have come and gone but the Congo problem remains.
In my view, the biggest obstacle has been the lack of genuine commitment on different parties but most especially on Kinshasa and, as a result, these agreements have largely remained on paper as opposed to their implementation.
Therefore, much as a regional solution to the crisis is important, and should be encouraged, its implementation is likely to suffer the same fate as the preceding agreements.
But one thing that could possibly yield results and probably working parallel to this new initiative (if it sets off) is an endeavor of taking time to listen to grievances or the root cause of the latest uprising in DRC.
Fortunately, the M-23 has requested talks but up to now, nobody seems to be picking up this request. Yet by ignoring their appeal, this group is pushed to the wall and left with only one option of defending themselves.
The reasons for their rebellion are not a secret – whether legitimate or illegitimate, the solution does not lie in crucifying them. The fact is that their people are dying each day at the hands of extremist militia groups inside eastern DRC. Hundreds of thousands of their kith and kin have been made stateless and those who remain behind risk complete annihilation.
In Libya, when the people of Benghazi were called rats by the late Libyan dictator, the internationally community responded by ousting and killing Muammar Gaddafi (RIP). The same happened in Iraq and now in Syria.
The M-23 has not asked for regime change – all it demands is a solution that guarantees protection for their people who are treated like second-class citizens today. Isn’t this something worth listening to?”
Israeli President Shimon Peres and the secret military document signed by him!
After secret South African documents have been found, revealing that Israeli President Shimon Peres has offered nuclear warhead to the apartheid regime in 1975 when he was Israeli defense minister, he strongly denied being involved in this!
Read the two reports…
Guardian.co.Uk, read about the secret document here
VOAnews. com , read about Peres statement here
researched 4u by mwoogie
and keep it going!!
Her disease is probably quite advanced: her kidneys are failing and she is so weak she can barely walk. Leaving her young daughter with family, she rode a bus four hours to the hospital where her cousin Allen Bamurekye, born infected, both works and gets the drugs that keep her alive.
But there are no drugs for Ms. Kamukama. As is happening in other clinics in Kampala, all new patients go on a waiting list. A slot opens when a patient dies.
read the whole story here:
BUJUMBURA, 26 April 2010 (IRIN) – Just 2km from the Tanzanian border, the “integrated” rural village of Nyakazi in Kibago commune, Makamba Province, houses 198 families, 80 percent of whom are landless returnees.
(…) The gacaca courts have dealt with around 60,000 cases and most of the backlog of those accused of taking part in the genocide has been cleared. There are fears, however, that some villagers are using this unique system of justice to settle scores with neighbours, and the Government wants any remaining cases to be tried in regular courts. (…)
read the whole article:
see also (german) :