UN Rwanda court rapped for silence over jailed US lawyer
(AFP) – 5 hours ago
ARUSHA — Two defence lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday criticised the UN court for staying silent over the arrest of one of its attorneys in Rwanda last week.
Peter Erlinder, a US lawyer who heads the tribunal's defence lawyers' association, was arrested last Friday on charges of denying the 1994 genocide after he had travelled to Kigali to defend an opposition figure facing similar accusations.
"To date it seems the ICTR has not raised the slightest protest against this arrest or demanded the immediate freedom of this lawyer who is on its list and who represents an accused person," said Arthur Vercken and Anta Guisse.
The two, who are defending a former senior official in Rwanda's interior ministry, Callixte Kalimanzira, charged with genocide, expressed fear of being targeted as well.
"This silence heightens worry by defence lawyers. Kalimanzira's team can no longer carry out its duties in peace and security."
"Indeed, Rwandan law includes in its definition of 'genocide ideology' assisting those accused of genocide, even in one's professional capacity," they said.
"That being the case, Mr. Kalimanzira's counsel can not under any circumstances take the risk of being treated the same way as Mr. Erlinder and/or risk being prosecuted by the Rwandan government or having arrest warrants issued for us," the two lawyers said.
They said Kalimanzira's counsel will not be able to assure his defence until the ICTR "forcibly reaffirms the principle of freedom of speech for its lawyers" and "until such time as charges against Mr. Erlinder in his professional capacity are dropped and the man himself set free".
The pair asked the Tanzania-based tribunal for an indefinite postponment of the hearing of their client's case due on June 14.
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library