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Life Reflections

Is mocking international justice this expensive?

By August 3, 2012June 6th, 2023No Comments

Panic buttons have been hit over Rwanda and the sirens are blaring. Everybody would be well advised to ignore the noises but for the damage they are inflicting. Hapless Congolese are being evicted from their homes in their hundreds of thousands and many are being killed. That tentative calm the DRC was beginning to find is now fast becoming distant memory. Rwanda is under a barrage of punches, too, with diverse “development partners” withholding their funds.

Ironically, it’s true that already everybody has forgotten that before these noises rose, the DRC was beginning to enjoy some quiet. Rwanda had played her neighbourly part of assisting to patch together a March 23rd peace agreement in 2009 and gone. But, of course, always ready to help, if need arose. Otherwise she was enjoying her work, doing what she loves most: building herself in an effort to wean herself off those “cheque books waved over her head”.

But, apparently, peace in the DRC and development in Rwanda are anathema to “development partners” and their ‘tools of trade’ (organisations like the UN).

So, Rwanda will always be singled out. We may protest all we can but the noises will continue to surface. It’s the same “guys” back at their good old monkey tricks again. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. Every time changing appearances and methods but never their intentions. Today they appear as an independent Group of Experts (GoE) and they have produced a report accusing Rwanda of involvement in the DRC mess. Never mind that it’s the employer of those “experts”, the UN, which created this mess, in great part.

How independent is this GoE, anyway? Does it not uncannily remind us of an “independent” French judge? The independent yesteryear “guy”, Jean-Louis Bruguère, whose independence was torn to shreds when WikiLeaks leaked out a conversation between him and then French President Jacques Chirac. Which indictments against Rwandan top leaders, therefore, had been hatched by Bruguère on behalf of the Chirac government. Indictments which were trashed later when a report by his compatriots contradicted his “findings”.

Similarly, it has now emerged that Steve Hege, who heads the GoE, was picked for a reason. He has been associated with Kivu from the early years of the 2000s. All this time, he has worked for different organisations in the region, including the UN. Now he is the lead expert of the GoE. That means when these experts were gathering their hearsay, as Rwanda has shown in a rebuttal, he was the one picking eyewitnesses for evidence. But, even for that, I’m sure this government would not begrudge him his position. It’s only his leanings that rule him out as an independent investigator.

Hege has made his leanings glaringly clear in documents he has written on the region. In an article he wrote in February 2009, in particular, he does not shy away from praising, and pleading for, the FDLR. Its title: “Understanding the FDLR in the DR Congo: Key Facts on the Disarmament and Repatriation of Rwandan Rebels” sounds deceptively genuine. Looking at it, you’d think this is a man who, like the rest of us, wishes to see the end to the anguish of rapes and killings that FDLR continues to commit against the innocent souls of the DRC. Or you’d take him for a man who wants to see a removal of the threat that the FDLR pose to peace in Rwanda.

Unfortunately, a reading of the article dispels such positive feelings.

He makes a long and strong case for the FDLR. To him, the FDLR are honourable officers who know what they are saying and who should be defended. A few short extracts from the article: “…..FDLR ex-combatants……[are] fearful of Rwanda [but] the Congolese government has made no provisions……FDLR feel deeply betrayed by the Congolese new collaboration with Rwanda…..focusing on the FDLR as the source of all regional conflicts fails to recall other countless profound underlying issues to be addressed……FDLR have not constituted a military threat to Rwanda…….FDLR would rather wait for political negotiations when international opinion eventually sours on Rwandan regime.”

Nowhere does Hege point out that the FDLR is a terrorist group, which some members of the UN Security Council have unequivocally spelt out.

If you ask me, a better spokesman for the cause of the FDLR there wouldn’t be. Another glance at his grand finale, about international opinion, will extract a cheer from even the reluctant of us. Cheer or none, however, if there is anybody who thought this lead expert might be lonely, stuff such a thought. Hege has company in the GoE. And the company comes in the form of a bundle of hatred for Rwanda also known as Steve. Steve Spittaels has been spotted contributing to a blog whose strong stance against Rwanda is well known.

All the above point to one question. Was the UN Security Council in the know when they approved the selection of these shadowy characters for the Group of Experts? Surely, two biased members are enough to put in doubt the credibility of this GoE.

Having worked for the UN in other capacities, Hege was well known to the UN. This therefore would mean that the UN proposed his name for a purpose. To look for incriminating evidence. Even before the “investigations”, Rwanda’s guilty verdict was a fait-accompli. So, why did the UN burn their money gathering unnecessary hearsay?

Mocking international justice is truly expensive business.

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