Wednesday 4 June 2014

War  criminals  are  not  wanted  in  Canada        
Canada welcomes immigrants to Canada because they can add to the fabric of Canada but war criminals add nothing but bad memories of events that took place in the past that still brings sorrow to the victims still alive trying to move on in their lives. Their pain increases when they realize that the perpetrators of the crimes against them and their families are living the good life in Canada and in other countries. Canadians don’t want war criminals to live a good life in Canada.

Jean Berchmans Habinshuti was born in 1955 in Rwanda and is a citizen of Rwanda. He came to Canada in August 2011, and made a claim for refugee protection. Meanwhile, his wife and children had previously been admitted into Canada as a refugee.
Canada prides itself in giving refugee protection to those of other countries whom they are fleeing from because of the possibilities that they will be harmed if they remain in the countries they were living in. But sometimes, the Canadian Immigration authorities aren`t absolutely convinced that some refugee applicants are legitimate refugees. Just because there are suspicions at the point of entry about their legitimacy, they are not immediately turned away. They are entitled to a hearing and that is what Habinshuti got.

First, a brief history of the Rwanda Genocide.   From April to July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. Begun by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality. Ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu government to take up arms against their neighbors. By the time the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front gained control of the country through a military offensive in early July, Eight hundred thousand or more Rwandan Tutsi were murdered and many more displaced from their homes. The RPF victory created 2 million more refugees (mainly Hutus) from Rwanda, exacerbating what had already become a full-blown humanitarian crisis.     

In October 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Tanzania, was established as an extension of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, the first international tribunal since the Nuremburg Trials of 1945-46 and the first with the mandate to prosecute the crime of genocide. In 1995, the ICTR began indicting and trying a number of higher-ranking Rwanda officials for their role in the Rwandan genocide; the process was made more difficult because the whereabouts of many suspects were unknown. The trials continued over the next decade and a half, including the 2008 conviction of three former senior Rwandan defense and military officials for organizing the genocide.

Habinshuti is an educated man and he served as a member of the Rwanda parliament from 1999 to 2003. He was initially hired by the newly formed Ministry of Information as Head of Division, in charge of relations with press attachés in other Ministries. As it appears from the his Curriculum Vitae, he was responsible for coordinating and following up on activities of press attachés in various Ministries, activities which are consistent with those of a Division Head. According to his résumé, the respondent was also responsible for preparing and organizing interviews and press conferences given by the Prime Minister. He held this position for one year, from 1992 to 1993. According to his testimony at his hearing, he was approached by Ms. Uwilingiyimana and asked if she could propose him as a candidate. He testified that Ms. Uwilingiyimana (Minister of Education) did all the necessary paperwork so that he could be assigned to the Ministry of Information. Later when Ms. Uwilingiyimana became the new Prime Minister, Habinshuti was subsequently hired by Ms. Uwilingiyimana herself in July 1993 to be her private secretary.                    

With regards to his position as private secretary, Habinshuti sought to minimize his duties, claiming that he handled mail but never opened any confidential correspondence, claimed he kept the Prime Minister’s agenda but never managed it and claimed that he never advised the Prime Minister in any way. He  described his duties as that of a mere clerk.

 The Canadian Immigration tribunal did not deem it credible that these were merely hypothetical duties corresponding to a generic job description. On the contrary, the tribunal believed that a Habinshuti actually carried out the duties which correspond to those of a senior executive assistant or advisor rather than those of a mere clerk. I am inclined to agree.

The official of the Minister of Immigration submited that Habinshuti’s résumé indicates that he was rising in the chain of command and submited that he attained increasing responsibilities as a result of his personal connection to the Prime Minister.

Habinshuti returned to a position in the upper echelons of Rwandan public service after the event of April 1994. The tribunal notes that there was a gap in his résumé from April 1994 until October 1994 due to the genocide which occurred (April to July 1994) and which led to a collapse of the government and disrupted normal activities in Rwanda.

As head of Social Affairs in the office of the Prime Minister, Habinshuti’s duties included reporting to the Prime Minister at the National level in various activities and also advising the Prime Minister on various social issues. He was also involved in co-ordinating and controlling the activities of the Division.

In his testimony, he tended to downplay the importance of his roles and the responsibilities which he had. The tribunal noted that there were inconsistencies between the Habinshuti’s résumé and his testimony which the he attempted to explain was due to the difference between hypothetical job descriptions which correspond to official postings and the his actual duties. According to the him, his actual duties did not necessarily correspond to his job descriptions.

He also claimed that notwithstanding his numerous promotions spanning a decade, his salary remained consistent. According to him, from the time he was a language teacher and until he became a private secretary, he indicated that he was earning 21,000 Rwandan Francs per month. It is simply implausible that as his tasks became more complex, his salary remained the same and is likelier an attempt by him to downplay the increasing importance of the positions which he held in the Rwandan government during the time of the genocide was taking place.

Notwithstanding which duties Habinshuti did or did not accomplish, he was involved in positions which gave him the authority to carry out the tasks enumerated on his résumé. If you consider the tasks enumerated, it is reasonable to conclude that these duties were those which can be ascribed to a senior official and not merely a clerk.

According to a Mr. Andre Guichaoua, a recognized expert on the Rwandan genocide, and an expert at the International Tribunal where suspected war criminals from Rwanda were being examined and the author of “De la Guerre au Génocide”, Habinshuti was in fact instrumental in organizing the meeting in question at the Prime Minister’s house. In fact, Mr. Guichaoua identified the Habinshuti as one of the persons implicated in the organization of the meeting of April 2, 1994 and also identified him as one of the participants in such meeting. According to Mr. Guichaoua, another officer, Captain Bernard Ndayisaba was implicated along with the Habinshuti in the organization of that meeting. Captain Ndayisaba was a staff security officer of the Prime Minister. According to the Habinshuti, Captain Ndayisaba was present at the meeting of April 2, 1994 and, initially, testified that he saw him at the meeting in question.

Habinshuti denied organizing and participating in the meeting of April 2, 1994. The respondent testified that April 2, 1994, was a Saturday so he could not possibly have been present at such meeting as he was home all day. According to his testimony, he attended at the Prime Minister’s house on Friday, April 1, 1994 but only to deliver last minute mail which had arrived late in the day. According to him, there were many people in attendance at what he relates was a social gathering. He claims to have stayed for 15 minutes and then left to go home. According to him, the gathering in question did not appear to be a meeting. He then went on to explain that the meeting of April 2, 1994 may have, in fact, taken place on April 1st, 1994, thereby further impugning his credibility.

I should point out that what took place at that meeting was amongst other topics, the mass murder of  the Tutsi in Rwanda. His involvement and or presence at the meeting of April 1994; whether it be on April 1st or 2nd-points to his involvement in government affairs at a very senior level. And if Habinshuti was present at that meeting in his capacity of head of Social Affairs, he would have been an active participant in that meeting. 

The Prime Minister was attempting to reform the military. The information that the Prime Minister was meeting with the military was used by Hutu extremists to suggest the a coup by the Tutsi was being planned. Habinshuti has been credibly identified as having been the originator of such meeting in conjunction with a military officer. In light of such information, the tribunal concluded that Habinshuti was influential in policy making and his role was politically significant as he had the potential to exercise significant influence on the exercise of government power.

Habinchuti never raised the issue of any errors in his résumé. In fact, he never dwelled on the nature of his duties, nor did he elaborate on the nature of his work. Further,  he contented himself with denying any involvement in the genocide which occurred in Rwanda despite the fact that up to that time, the Canadian authorities never accused him of being involved in the genocide. They merely said  that he had been been a senior official in the service of a government involved in the genocide. The fact that the respondent did not distance himself from his role as a senior official led the tribunal to conclude that he misunderstood what the government was asking of him. It appeared likely that it was at this point that Habinchuti became aware that the information he presented in his résumé was incriminating.

The Immigration Appeal Division concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Habinchuti was involved in the planning of the meeting of April 2, 1994 and reiterated the fact that an internationally recognized expert on the subject named him as a co originator of that particular meeting.                                                                                                

The tribunal concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Habinchuti was someone with authority and responsibilities in the Rwandan government and as such, concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that that exerted power and influence as a senior official in a designated regime and that the consequently fits the definition of “prescribed senior official” as defined in section 16(c) of the Regulations. They granted him asylum. The Minister of Innigration appealed to the Supreme Court. That court ruled that Jean Berchmans Habinshuti is declared inadmissible to Canada under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Act and should be deported. At the time of this writing, he hasn`t been deported but his deportaion is imminent and when he is deported, I will add that information to this article as an UPDATE.

There is something I want to add in this article. Habinchuti has obviously been condemned as being guilty by association. That type of determination is tricky at best. It means that if you are present at a meeting in which the murder of someone or many people is discussed, and you do nothing to sway the atendees from committing the murder, then you are just as guilty as those that promote the murder.

Adolf Eichman was a Lt. Colonel in the Nazi regime and responsible for transporting Jews to concentration camps. He attend the Wannsee Conference in which Nazi leaders discussed Himmler`s plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe. Eichmann did not make policy, but acted in an operational capacity. Specific deportation orders came from Himmler. Eichmann's office was responsible for collecting information on the Jews in each area, organizing the seizure of their property, and arranging for and scheduling trains that would mtake them to the camps. He was later captured by the Israelis and hanged as a war criminal.

I don`t know just how much impute if any that Habinchuti had at that April 1974 meeting but the fact that he was present as a high official would lead a reasonable person to believe that he had some impute about what was to be done to the Tutsi who were later murdered by the Hutus in the hundreds of thousands.  No doubt, the present government of Rawanda is anxious to get their hands on this man as soon as he arrives in Rawanda. 

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