Rwanda: Rwandan Judiciary Should Be Respected – EU Legislators

MP Norbert Neuser, heading a delegation of eight members of European Union (EU) Parliament, who are in Rwanda from Monday, has said that Rwanda is an independent country and its judiciary should be respected.
He made the observation on Thursday, November 04, 2021 in Kigali, while speaking to the media after the delegation he led met with the bureau of the Lower Chamber of Parliament led by Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa.
She was accompanied by her deputies; Edda Mukabagwiza (legislation and government oversight) and Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana who is in charge of finance and administration.
The two delegations discussed relations between the European Union and Rwanda.
Commenting on the EU Parliament’s resolution on the case of Paul Rusesabagina, Neuser said; “It’s not a secret that I was not very much comfortable, I would say, with the decision taken by the European Parliament … and for me it’s not okay that we, on one hand, concentrate on this case and forget a little bit all the other issues we have to talk about.”
“So we are not diplomats, we are free elected parliamentarians. But on the other hand, I want to say that we have to think about a balanced approach to how to come up and cooperate with your country.
On the independence of Rwanda’s judiciary, he said that “it’s your decision, you are an independent country, you have the Government, you have your judges, and we absolutely have to respect that. We are not here for teaching you,” he said.
On February 11, this year, EU Parliament – a parliamentary institution of the European Union – adopted a resolution which, among other things, condemned what it described as ‘the enforced disappearance and illegal rendition of Paul Rusesabagina.’
Rusesabagina was accused of various charges including terrorism, arson, and murder on the Rwandan territory, the charges he faced together with 20 co-accused for the terrorist attacks attributed to Forces Nationale de Liberation (FLN) – an army wing of MRCD.
He was sentenced to 25 years after a trial in which much of the evidence presented before court was given to Rwandan prosecution by their Belgian counterparts who had earlier searched his home.
The same resolution also “expressed deep concern about the violations of Mr Rusesabagina’s rights; and urged the Rwandan authorities to allow Mr Rusesabagina to undergo a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal applying international human rights standards.”
During the preliminary hearings during which Rusesabagina sought bail, he had accepted his role in the creation of FLN, an outfit responsible for the murder of at least nine people and injury of many others during attacks that took place in south western Rwanda.
Following the resolution by the EU parliament, on February 15, the Rwandan Parliament issued a rejoinder to express its stand on the issue.
In the rejoinder, Rwandan legislators urged their EU counterparts to retract its resolution.
“(Parliament) resolves that the European Parliament’s resolution amounts to an attempt to improperly influence an ongoing judicial proceeding and calls on the European Parliament to retract its resolution given the inviolability of the principle of judicial independence and separation of powers,” the rejoinder reads in part.
It considered that Rusesabagina and 20 co-accused were on trial over charges stemming from a series of attacks carried out by their armed group in southwestern Rwanda between 2018 and 2019, during which civilians were killed, several others seriously injured and property looted or destroyed.
Mutually beneficial relations
Speaker Mukabalisa commended the existing cooperation between Rwanda and the European Union in areas of education, health, governance and social protection, which significantly contributed to Rwanda’s journey to development.
“We would like that the partnership between Rwanda and the EU be furthered. Another thing is the cooperation between the members of parliaments of the two countries as the representatives of the citizens where we discuss different subjects including projects that improve the livelihoods of the people and benefit both countries.
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Mukabalisa said that they seek ways to discuss issues that might exist between the two countries in order to find common solutions, with respect.
“I think in our future discussions, we will be dealing with all that so that people have relations based on accord and respect, we will be showing that we should live by respecting one another,” Mukabalisa said.
Neuser said, “We have good relations between the EU and Rwanda, and the main purpose of our visit was to see the development in Rwanda and see how we can continue cooperation in different things like education, agriculture, climate change, and all the challenges coming up.”
It is expected that the delegation is departing for Brussels on Friday, November 5.
Read the original article on New Times.
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