As Rwanda Arrests Defense Lawyer Erlinder, UN Silent, ICTR Writes Cautious Letter to Kagame
UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- When Peter Erlinder, a defense lawyer before the UN affiliated International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was arrested in Kigali for things he's said that are related to the defense he is currently putting up for opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, one expected the UN to protest the arrest.
Inner City Press asked, at the UN's June 3 noon briefing in New York, if there was any response by the Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or at least the ICTR. UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe said "I have no information on that, but I’ll take your question."
Subsequently a response came in from the ICTR, attributable to ICTR spokesperson Roland Amoussouga:
"We are not yet certain that the arrest has anything to do with Professor Peter Erlinder's work in ICTR as his travel to Kigali was not connected to his mandate with ICTR. When we learnt about the arrest we have immediately sent a correspondence in the form of an Official Note Verbale to the Rwandan authorities to get clarification as to whether the arrest may have had any relationship with the stance Professor Erlinder has taken in the context of the Defence of his client. We have yet to receive a formal reply. Normally, lawyers do enjoy immunity for the stance they take in legal proceedings."
Erlinger has been charged for genocide denial, which is what his client is charged with. The role of Kagame's RPF is central to the defenses defendants must put up in the ICTR. But if one can be arrested for this, no defense or due process is possible.
UN's Ban at ICTR, defense of defense lawyer Erlinder not shown
Erlinder's family thinks the Rwandan government is seeking to physically harm or even kill Erlinder. And the UN affiliated ICTR says, "We are not yet certain that the arrest has anything to do with Professor Peter Erlinder's work in ICTR." Watch this site.