Cablegate: Rwanda Petitions the International Court of Justice
DE RUEHLGB #0391 1151323
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251323Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4068
INFO RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0049
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 0862
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1586
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0204
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0846
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0226
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0158
UNCLAS KIGALI 000391
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KJUS RW
SUBJECT: RWANDA PETITIONS THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
1. (U) Rwanda on April 18 petitioned the International Court
of Justice (ICJ) regarding the November 2006 issuance of
arrest warrants by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere against
nine senior Rwandan officials. These officials, according to
an investigation conducted by Bruguiere, were allegedly
involved in the April 6, 1994 shooting down of a presidential
jet piloted by a French crew (this incident touching off the
three-month-long genocide). When issuing the arrest
warrants, Bruguiere also recommended to the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that President Paul
Kagame be prosecuted for his alleged role in the downing of
the presidential jet. Rwanda responded to the issuance of
these arrest warrants by breaking diplomatic relations with
France. In its filing at the ICJ, Rwanda asked that the ICJ
nullify the arrest warrants as a violation of Rwanda's
sovereignty and of various international immunities.
2. (U) In publicly acknowledging receipt of the court
application, the ICJ noted that it had been filed under rules
of the court which require consent to jurisdiction by the
defending state. The ICJ stated in its April 18 press
release that it had transmitted the court filing to the
government of France, but that "no action will be taken in
the proceedings unless and until France consents to the
Court's jurisdiction in the case."
3. (U) Separately, in mid-April two of the nine Rwanda
officials subject to the French arrest warrants, Chief of
Army Staff Lieutenant General Charles Kayonga and Brigadier
General Jack Nziza, filed suit in a Belgian court seeking to
quash application of the arrest warrants in Belgium. This
case had several preliminary hearings in the last two weeks,
with May 24 set for further proceedings.
4. (SBU) Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, upon his
return from The Hague this week, told the embassy that the
GOR would argue before the ICJ that the international legal
order had been put "in jeopardy" by the French arrest
warrants. Normal "immunities" for traveling officials would
be breached, and the ability of senior officials to conduct
public business severely constrained. Karugamara added that,
as French officials had on several occasions claimed that the
arrest warrants were a purely judicial matter, beyond the
competence or authority of France's executive branch, then
any refusal to accept ICJ jurisdiction would be
"embarrassing." If the matter was purely judicial, he said,
"then why not let the ICJ decide?"
5. (SBU) On the subject of the lawsuit filed by the two
Rwandan generals, Tharcisse repeated earlier published
statements by the GOR that the suit was "an entirely private
matter." But he conceded that the GOR would follow the
matter "with great interest," and said that a similar
"private" lawsuit was being readied for filing in France.
Additional plaintiffs, from among the nine senior Rwandans
subject to the Bruguiere arrest warrants, would likely join
this and other potential legal filings, he said. The
generals sought a declaratory judgment nullifying the
warrants, he added, and had named the governments of Belguim
and France, as well as Jean-Louis Bruguiere, in the lawsuit.
6. (SBU) Although noting, as he and other officials have on
many past occasions, that Rwanda considered the French
government to have been "against" the GOR for "many years,"
Karugarama said that "the door was always open" for political
and diplomatic "efforts." As, he said, the ICJ filing
appeared to require no specific deadline for a response by
the French government, the GOR anticipated no quick reply.
"The French elections are in the way," he said, and Rwanda
would wait for the new French government to organize itself.
"We hope for a change in Africa policy," he said, "while
expecting no great change."
7. (SBU) Comment. Karugarama and the GOR are aware that
several EU member states consider the French arrest warrants
as automatically binding upon them, given internal EU
consular and legal arrangements. While the two generals'
suit may be formally a private matter, we assume close
coordination between the nine Rwandan officials sought by
Bruguiere and the Rwandan government in the two legal
filings. We leave legal analysis of the two cases to experts
in the field, but note that the GOR asserted itself on the
eve of French elections -- perhaps hoping to influence the
incoming regime. End comment.