IRIN Update 403 for 24 Apr 98.4.24 (fwd)

IRIN Update 403 for 24 Apr 98.4.24 (fwd)

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 403 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 24 April 1998)

RWANDA: Rwanda executes 22 people convicted of genocide

Rwandan army firing squads today (Friday) shot dead 22 people sentenced to public execution for taking part in the country's 1994 genocide. State radio reported at 12:20 p.m. local time the executions were carried out as planned in five locations across the country. Correspondents from international news organisations reported a Rwandan firing squad executed three men and a woman at a soccer ground in Kigali in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 people. Rwandan radio reported similar executions were carried out at four other locations.

AFP reported that among those executed at the Nyamirambo stadium in Kigali was Silas Munyagishali, who was the Kigali state prosecutor from August 1994 until February 1996, and Froduald Karamira, who was a vice-president of the Democratic Republican Movement (MDR). Karamira was regarded by Rwandan authorities as the main ideologist of the hard-line Hutu extremist faction known as "Hutu Power" which encouraged the genocide four years ago of Tutsis and the massacre of political opponents.

The Rwandan government faced a storm of criticism over the action, but rejected appeals to reverse the decision from the United Nations, the United States, Pope John Paul, and international human rights organisations. Foreign Affairs Minister Anastase Gasana said the executions would help "eradicate the culture of impunity which has been going on for more than three decades." He said international human rights organisations had made no such similar outcry over earlier executions of members of the army for unauthorised killings of civilians. Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema took a similar line, saying human rights groups had frequently urged "justice" for those guilty of genocide crimes.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his concern over the planned executions in a letter to President Pasteur Bizimungu. Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said: "the Secretary-General is concerned that justice be done in accordance with due process and in a way that will advance the process of healing that is needed to ensure lasting peace in Rwanda."

Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement issued yesterday (Thursday) she was "deeply disturbed, and even shocked" by the government's decision. Robinson said various organisations had monitored many of the trials that resulted in the conviction and sentencing of those now to be executed and concluded that "a significant number of these proceedings involved substantive and procedural irregularities and violations of various provisions of international and/or domestic law protecting the defendant and ensuring fair trial". She said to proceed with the execution of these people would violate international standards. "The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Rwanda is a party, explicitly states that capital sentences may only be pronounced after trials in which all guarantees of due process were scrupulously observed," her statement added.

Washington on Thursday also criticised Rwanda's decision. "We would urge Rwanda to conduct such executions only upon the exhaustion of all avenues of appeal open to defendants and a proper review of the cases by appropriate judicial authorities," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.

Kigali accuses France of having "blood on its hands" over genocide

A top Rwandan official today accused France of having "Rwandese blood on its hands". AFP reported Emmanuel Gasana, political adviser to Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame, condemned France's involvement in 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and said Kigali was considering demanding damages and compensation in a legal action against France, the United Nations and "all those who played a role" in the genocide.

The declaration followed the testimony of Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son and African affairs advisor of the late president Francois Mitterrand, before a parliamentary probe examining France's role in the Rwandan genocide. Mitterrand declared to the commission on Wednesday that his father promoted democracy and human rights in Rwanda.

ANGOLA: South African police says no evidence of arms smuggling to UNITA

According to the South African police, they have no evidence so far of alleged arms smuggling to UNITA from South African airfields. Detectives visited the northern town of Pietersburg from 6-9 April to investigate Angolan government claims that the local airport is being used to fly supplies to the ex-rebel movement. "There was no evidence of arms smuggling, but information of non-lethal ex-military equipment smuggled out," a police spokesman told IRIN today. The equipment includes vehicles, tow trucks, boots and ponchos. Their supply to UNITA - in violation of UN security Council sanctions - is being investigated. Three Russian-built planes were also grounded at Pietersburg by the investigative team for flying without foreign operators' permits. The police are yet to complete their enquiries, triggered by an official complaint by the Angolan government in March.

UGANDA: Museveni says Uganda to review ties with Sudan

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a Kampala press conference on Wednesday that Uganda is to "review its diplomatic links" with its northern neighbour after Sudan was implicated in recent bombings in the Ugandan capital. Sudanese state radio "strongly denied" the allegations yesterday. According to Kenya's 'Daily Nation', Museveni also said that northern Uganda was calm. Today's state-owned 'New Vision', however, claims that 32 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels were killed this week in "heavy fighting" in Kitgum district. The latest incursion, of 400-600 rebels arriving from Sudan began on Sunday. A police spokesman said that "there is an extreme famine in southern Sudan and that's one of the main reasons why the rebels are here." In Geneva, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution presented by Uganda condemning the abduction of children from northern Uganda.

Lorry ploughs into crowd, killing eight

A lorry loaded with coffee ploughed into a Kampala crowd on Wednesday, killing eight and injuring 30. The crowd, celebrating the victory of

opposition candidate Nasser Sebeggala in mayoral elections, burnt the truck. Police, fearing a riot, opened fire with live ammunition and wounded even more of the crowd.

BURUNDI: UNHCHR slams Burundi over human rights record

The UN Commission on Human Rights today denounced the massacres of civilians, arbitrary arrests and number of missing people in Burundi. But AFP reported a resolution adopted by the 54th session of the commission added that there were "encouraging signs in the combat against impunity and for the promotion of human rights on the part of the government of Burundi." Friday's text criticised the authorities for using civilians to carry out dangerous military duties, such as night patrols and de-mining operations. It also accused the mainly Hutu rebels of kidnapping children to fight in their armed struggle against the Tutsi-dominated government of Pierre Buyoya.

SUDAN: Bush fire kills 47 in southern Sudan

At least 47 people were killed last Sunday when a bush fire swept through Tonj county of Bahr al-Ghazal state in southern Sudan, a World Vision press release reported on Wednesday. A World Vision team in the field found "charred corpses of at least 15 people and more than 20 fresh graves."

Sudan threatens flight withdrawal

Khartoum on Tuesday threatened to withdraw permission for humanitarian aid flights to Southern Sudan, AFP reported on Wednesday. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was quoted as saying: "the government will order a halt to those relief operations if the rebel movement continues practices obstructive to relief efforts." The government is pressing for talks between SPLA rebels and its former allies ahead of the IGAD peace negotiations scheduled for April 30.

Nairobi, 24 April 1998, 15:00 GMT


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Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 18:43:39 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 403 for 24 Apr 98.4.24 (fwd) Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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