Mugesera deported after 17 years, questions loom over justice system in Rwanda
According to various media reports, Léon Mugesera, a Rwandan national who lived in Canada for 17 years, was deported back to Rwanda on January 23. He had avoided deportation for so long on the basis that Canada and other developed nations refuse to deport those who are likely to be tortured and murdered in their home countries.
In 1992, Mugesera is reported to have given a speech that incited Hutus to commit violence against Tutsis. The Rwandan genocide, in which 800,00 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred, of course followed in 1994. In the meantime, the Rwandan government issued a warrant for Mugesera’s arrest, and he fled to Canada in 1993.
As Les Perreaux reports for the Globe and Mail, “[n]ow Rwandan justice will be tested by one of the highest-profile genocide suspects to arrive from a Western country.”
While it is believed he will avoid torture and the death penalty, the question as to whether he will receive a fair trial is still up in the air: “Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International maintain torture is no longer a major problem in Rwanda, but both question whether country can stage a fair trial. Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada says the federal government should have set an example by allowing the UN process to unfold” (Perreaux, for the Globe and Mail).
Interestingly, in its editorial on the issue, the Globe and Mail described Rwanda as having “grown up,” (a comment on its abolishment of the death penalty, and perhaps its new commitment to a fair justice system?).
Violence and mining companies – Reducing accountability to your office address?
A recent development in a Canadian class action suit against Anvil Mining Ltd. reveals the challenge of pursuing justice against international mining corporations. Questions of accountability are proving murky when a corporation has offices in multiple countries, and is headquartered outside of a country where a case has been brought to court.
An All Africa article provides the details of the case: “Anvil Mining, a Canadian corporation, is accused of providing logistical support to the Congolese army who raped, murdered and brutalised the people of Kilwa in the DRC. According to the United Nations, an estimated 100 civilians died as a direct result of the military action, including some who were executed and thrown in mass graves.”
The Quebec Court of Appeal recently overturned the decision of the Quebec Superior Court, who apparently saw fault on the part of Anvil’s Montreal office in a case of the Kilwa massacre in 2004. The action was launched by the Canadian Association Against Impunity (CAAI), which has said it hopes to have its case against Anvil Mining Ltd. heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
As All Africa explains: “In the ruling last week, Justices Forget, Wagner and Giroux of the Quebec Court of Appeal, stated that there was insufficient connections to Quebec because Anvil Mining’s Montreal office was not involved in decisions leading to its alleged role in the massacre. They also stated that they believe the victims could have sought justice in the DRC or Australia, where Anvil Mining had its head office.”
The decision has also been described in another All Africa report as a “win” for Anvil.
MiningWatch Canada weighs in on new CIDA projects
Last month the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA, announced it would fund three foreign aid pilot projects in Africa and South America, to be carried out as partnerships between Canadian NGOs and large mining corporations. The NGOs include Plan Canada, World University Service of Canada, and World Vision Canada, who will be partnering with IAMGOLD, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Barrick Gold, respectively.
“Subsidizing the CSR projects of well-endowed multinationals is an irresponsible use of public funds by CIDA, particularly as these CSR projects mask rather than address the serious local- and national-level development deficits caused by mining.
… Mining companies’ branding of themselves as bringers of development needs to be critically examined against the burgeoning ‘resource curse’ literature that links mining to deepening national impoverishment in mining-dependent developing countries (through loss of competitiveness, loss of development of other economic sectors, and unequal distribution of benefits associated with mineral wealth, for instance) and against the growing global local-level opposition to mining.”