Niger has walked back on its agreement with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to accommodate several Rwandan nationals convicted (and some acquitted) for their role in the 1994 genocide.
Last week, ministerial decree formalized their definitive expulsion from Niger, according to The Africa Report.
In 1994, about 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda over 100 days by ethnic Hutu extremists, who targeted members of the minority Tutsi community and their political opponents.
On Dec. 27, Niger’s Minister of the Interior and Decentralization, Hamadou Adamou Souley, ordered the génocidaires, all senior officials of the regime that directed the genocide against the Tutsis, seven days to leave the country.
The ICTR sentenced Protais Zigiranyirazo (more commonly known as “Monsieur Zed”) to 20 years in prison in 2008. He was acquitted the following year. Zigiranyirazo resigned his position as prefect to study at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in Montrea. He was expelled from UQAM and Canada in 1993 after being convicted of threatening to kill two Tutsi refugees in Montreal, who “accused him of participating in the planning of ethnic massacres.”
Alphonse Nteziryayo, former head of the Rwandan military police, was sentenced to 30 years. Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 before his sentence to 15 years in December 2011.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi was handed the same sentence as was. Innocent Sagahutu, the former second-in-command of the Reconnaissance Battalion (RECCE).
Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, former commander of the reconnaissance battalion of the former Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR), was acquitted on appeal. André Ntagerura, former minister of transport and communications in the genocidal government, was also acquitted. Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister of public service, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He was acquitted on appeal in 2013.
Nzuwonemeye filed an emergency appeal to halt the expulsion from Niger.
Jérôme Bicamumpaka, former minister of foreign affairs in the Rwandan Interim Government (GIR), was acquitted in the first instance and on appeal.
A source told the publication that Rwanda was unaware of the offers of asylum. “This is a negotiation between the United Nations and the government of Niger in which the Rwandan government was not involved.”
Rwanda’s ambassador to the UN, Valentine Rugwabiza, sent an official communication to the Republic of Niger.
“Rwanda is surprised that it was not notified either by the residual mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals [which replaced the ICTR since 2016] or by the State of Niger,” her letter reads. “We hope that Niger will take the necessary steps to ensure that none of them will use its territory to conduct subversive activities that could contribute to insecurity and instability in the Great Lakes region, as we have seen over the past decades.”