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East Africa Law Society condemns arrest of American lawyer in Rwanda

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by babukijana, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. babukijana

    babukijana JF-Expert Member

    Jun 9, 2010
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    From MARC NKWAME in Arusha, 8th June 2010 @ 12:01, Total Comments: 1, Hits: 345

    THE East Africa Law Society says has noted with concern the recent arrest and detention of the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's defence lawyers association, Professor Peter Erlinder.

    The American lawyer was arrested by the Government of Rwanda in Kigali, last week, on charges of 'Genocide Ideology.’ Prof Erlinder is known for his defence work at the UN-ICTR in Arusha.

    At the time of his arrest (May 28) he was in Kigali representing Ms Victoire Ingabire, a leading opposition candidate who is targeted by Rwandan authorities after she claimed that crimes committed against Hutus during the 1994 genocide were deliberately overlooked.

    The arrest has attracted condemnation from amongst the national, regional and international legal fraternity, especially in view of the fact that Professor Erlinder was due to offer legal representation to one of the key opposition figures in Rwanda. According to the society, the arrest is threatening to compromise the, otherwise, good international human rights record that Rwanda currently enjoys,” said Dr Allan Shonubi, the EALS president.

    In a statement released yesterday, Dr Shonubi called for Rwanda to handle the matter with regard to human rights conventions.

    “While cognizant of the fact that investigations into the matter are still ongoing, we wish to call upon the Government of the Republic of Rwanda to ensure that Professor Erlinder is granted the full benefit of a speedy fair trial and due process as espoused by various regional and international human rights instruments and conventions,” stated Dr Shonubi.

    According to the statement, the instruments include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Covention on Civil and Political Rights as well as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

    The charter entitles an accused person to unfettered access to legal representation, absence of duress or coercion, access to family and next of kin, a speedy and fair trial before an impartial court or tribunal, and recourse to appeal in the event that one is dissatisfied with the judgment of the court of first instance.

    The statement reminds that the EALS, together with its sister Bar, the Kigali Bar Association, is closely monitoring the progress of Professor Erlinder’s case. According to him, the society reserves the right to petition the Regional and Continental Human Rights Courts in the unlikely event that the trial process in Rwanda falls short of speedy, just and fair trial.

    EALS is the premier regional Bar Association in East Africa and the pre-eminent civil society organization with a permanent and programme activities focus on the East African Community (EAC).

    It is a dual membership organization, bringing together over 10,000 lawyers from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. It also involves six national Bar Associations in the region- the Burundi Bar Association, Kigali Bar Association, Law Society of Kenya, Tanganyika Law
    Society, Uganda Law Society and Zanzibar Law Society. Ends
    source:daily news