KIGALI, Rwanda – April 4, 2022 – PRLog –
The Rwandan prosecutors’ appeal of the verdict in Hotel Rwanda humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina’s Sham Trial concluded today in Kigali. The Court of Appeal chose to maintain the original 25 year sentence for the 67 year old Rusesabagina, which means that he will still die in prison. While it is positive that the politicized trial process is finally over, the fact that this appeal by the prosecutors even happened adds insult to injury for a man who is only in jail because of his humanitarian work and criticism of the human rights record of the Rwandan government.
Why did the Rwandan prosecutors even go forward with an appeal to what was already effectively a life sentence? Only President Kagame and his prosecutors can tell us for sure. International observers made it clear that Rusesabagina’s show trial had nothing to do with the law. Rather this was really all about silencing his dissent and sending a chilling message to other critics. The appeal is just more of the same.
The world needs to remember – trials of critics and perceived political opponents in Rwanda have very little to do with the law, and everything to do with politics and sending a message to others who might dissent. It should be noted that since Paul Rusesabagina’s arrest, dozens more human rights activists, journalists and dissenters have disappeared, died or been detained for speaking out about the Kagame government transgressions.
A recent Opinion (https://rfkhr.imgix.net/asset/A-HRC-WGAD-2021-81-Rwanda-A…) by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, combined with the report (https://cfj.org/news_posts/hotel-rwanda-figure-paul-ruses…) released earlier today by the Clooney Foundation’s TrialWatch group, make it clear that Paul’s human rights and trial rights have been denied by the Rwandan government at every opportunity.
Today’s result is meaningless, because Paul Rusesabagina’s health is rapidly deteriorating with every day that passes and he will die in prison without international support. The United Nations, European Union, members of the US Congress and UK Parliament and many others have all called for his immediate release on compassionate grounds. It is critical that this happens soon.