A voluminous report on the role of France in the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 was submitted to President Macron on Friday. For the moment, around thirty investigations are underway in Paris, but few are interested in the responsibilities in the French ruling circles. </p><div> <p><span><span><span>Twenty-seven years after the massacres which left 800,000 dead in three months in the small country of Central Africa, the report submitted on Friday March 26 sheds light on the involvement of France, which remained until the end. ally of the Hutu regime in Kigali.</span></span></span>
According to the Duclert report, the fruit of two years of analysis of the archives, the French authorities bear “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” in the drift that led to the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994.
“There is no evidence” that she became an ‘accomplice’ in the genocide, “if that means a willingness to associate with the genocidal enterprise,” said the commission of historians who drafted the document.
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After its handover on Friday, the Elysee Palace assured in a statement that France would continue “its efforts in the fight against the impunity of those responsible for crimes of genocide”.
Hubert Védrine, former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997-2002), secretary general of the Élysée from May 1991 to May 1995, welcomed Friday to AFP “the honesty” of the report which “ruled out any complicity of the France”. He deplored, however, “the very numerous and severe criticisms” of the report, targeting in particular the former socialist president François Mitterrand, which “take no account of the fact that France only reacted from 1990 to the attack. of the RPF [tutsi]”.
Bernard Kouchner, former Minister of Health and Humanitarian Action under the presidency of François Mitterrand (from 1992 to 1993), had visited Rwanda during the genocide. He recalled Friday having “twice called President François Mitterrand to warn him” of the gravity of the situation: “he listened to me and said: you are exaggerating”.
Around thirty complaints filed in France
Due to the historical links between Paris and the regime of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, killed in an attack on April 6, 1994, many people suspected of being genocidaires found refuge in France after 1994.
Several were arrested, but the Court of Cassation has constantly opposed the extraditions to their country of Rwandans suspected of having taken part in the genocide, under the principle of non-retroactivity of the law.
Thus, Paris refused to extradite Agathe Habyarimana, widow of the ex-Rwandan president, suspected of being involved in the genocide, which she disputes. An investigation targeting her has been open in Paris since 2008.
For Alain Gauthier, of the Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR) at the origin of nearly thirty complaints filed in France, “this is not the first time” that the Elysee promises to judge the alleged Rwandan genocidaires.
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“Justice has been moving slowly for a long time, there has been no trial since 2018, people sent to court are saving time by appealing”, regrets Alain Gauthier.
To date, only three people have been sentenced definitively by French justice in genocide-related trials, to twenty-five years in prison for a former officer of the presidential guard, to life imprisonment for two former mayors.
Already postponed twice due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the trial of a former Franco-Rwandan hotel driver is due to start in November.
Three other investigations gave rise to referrals to the assizes, which are still the subject of appeals. And in addition, 31 judicial inquiries and two preliminary investigations are currently underway at the crimes against humanity pole of the Paris judicial tribunal.
They mainly target individuals, or the BNP-Paribas group, accused by NGOs of having financed in 1994 a purchase of weapons for the benefit of the Hutu militia.
Another targets Captain Paul Barril, a former member of the Elysée anti-terrorism cell under François Mitterrand, who, according to the NGOs who filed a complaint against him, could have been used in the service of an “indirect strategy” of France to support the Rwandan regime against the rebels of current President Paul Kagame.
With the report, all eyes turn to another burning issue, that of the possible responsibilities of the French army during Operation Turquoise, accused by survivors of having abandoned hundreds of Tutsi who were then massacred on the hills of Bisesero, end of June 1994.
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In July 2018, the judges closed their investigations without pronouncing an indictment, paving the way for a dismissal. Since then, they have always refused to relaunch the investigation by carrying out new hearings or confrontations, as the civil parties have repeatedly demanded.
“The report brings in its conclusions the proof that the political and military apparatus was much more involved than what it said”, notes Éric Plouvier, lawyer of the association Survie. For him, it is from now on a “judicial debate, and not of historians, which must open” on the concept of “complicity”.
“It is not for a commission of historians to qualify legally or not [si la France a été complice ou pas du génocide]”, adds Patrick Baudouin, lawyer for the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), also a civil party. With this report, he believes,” we can no longer imagine that the investigation on Bisesero ends with a dismissal “.
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