News / Africa

Frenchman Leads Drive to Prosecute Perpetrators of Rwandan Genocide

Alain Gauthier has founded an association with a long-standing goal of bringing to justice the perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide who may be living in France. VOA's Lisa Bryant in Paris looks at the man known in France as the Rwandan genocide hunter.

Earlier this month, French police briefly arrested Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of a former Rwandan president who is suspected of instigating Rwanda's 1994 genocide.  The arrest was made shortly after French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid a groundbreaking trip to Kigali that was widely seen as turning the chapter on bitter French-Rwandan relations.

Rwandan authorities have called on Paris to pursue genocide suspects living in France.  So has 61-year-old French school teacher Alain Gauthier, who founded the French association Le Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda nearly a decade ago with his Rwandan wife.

Gauthier has been compared to famed French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld.

But Gauthier says he is just an ordinary citizen whose life was torn apart by the genocide.  Gauthier's wife lost about 100 members of her family in the massacre that killed about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. That included Gauthier's mother-in-law, who was gunned down in a  church where she had sought shelter.

A 1977 file photo shows the wife of Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe, during an official meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris
A 1977 file photo shows the wife of Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe, during an official meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Gauthier's association has filed several complaints in French courts against suspected genocide perpetrators, including one against Agathe Habyarimana.

But Gauthier says not a single genocide suspect has faced trial in France to date, although Paris has deported three Rwandans to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.  By contrast, several trials linked to the Rwandan genocide have taken place in neighboring Belgium.

Leslie Haskell is Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch in Geneva:

"France is actually one of the leading countries where genocide suspects have sought refuge," said Haskell.  "We count about six cases where there have been requests to extradite Rwandans to Rwanda for trial on genocide charges.  And there are another eight cases that are under investigation that would be subject to an extradition request or tried by the French courts," she added.

Haskell notes investigating the cases has been very time consuming and complicated, especially during the period when France and Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties.  But she sees new movement, including France's recent decision to create a special investigative unit to examine genocide and crimes against humanity committed abroad.

These changes have helped energize the Gauthiers' work, and brought Rwanda back into the French media spotlight.  Some French schools have asked Gauthier to give presentations on the Rwandan genocide.

Gauthier says it is critical to keep teaching about the Rwandan genocide, just as it is important never to forget the Nazi-perpetrated Jewish Holocaust.  He says education helps keep the memory of what happened alive, and teaches a new generation to say no to genocide in the future.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid