Rwandan President Paul Kagame yesterday told journalists in Kigali that the decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to investigate crimes allegedly committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) in 1994 is evidence of the politicization of the tribunal's functions.
The Rwandan president made the remarks in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which was later distributed to other media in the form of a press statement.
In the statement, a copy of which was made available to 'Internews,' Kagame says: "Any crimes committed by individuals within the RPA were investigated and punished. They [the ICTR] know that very well... How then does the ICTR attempt to place the RPA, who actually put an end to the genocide, at the same level as the genocidaires, the very perpetrators of the genocide? We do not agree with this kind of thinking."
The president criticizes members of the international community, blaming them for the campaign to have RPA crimes tried at the ICTR.
"They [the international community] simply run away from responsibility and left people to be killed in the thousands. They have no moral authority whatsoever," Kagame maintains, adding: "We cannot be lectured by them. If they are so concerned about human rights, why did they allow hundreds of thousands of people to die here during the genocide, when they knew it was going to happen? Even when it was happening, they run away from it. Afterwards, they did not come forward in a tangible way to help Rwanda. So
what moral authority do they have?"
On 26 July, Anastase Gasana, Rwanda's representative to the UN, denied claims that Rwanda was impeding witness travel to the ICTR because the ICTR is investigating members of the RPA for crimes against humanity. Gasana also criticized the tribunal's performance, focusing mainly on long trials and administrative failures.
Kagame also raises similar concerns in his statement. He claims the operations of the ICTR leave "a lot to be desired." "One only needs to compare the resources allocated to the tribunal with the results. Tens of millions of US dollars are spent yet trials take such a long time and some cases have been pending for such a long time."