Almost a year ago, Hotel Rwanda humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina was kidnapped, taken to Rwanda, arrested, tortured, and put on trial. From the outset, this “trial” has been widely regarded as a farce by many human rights observers. Even though President Paul Kagame has already sealed Rusesabagina’s fate by calling him guilty before the judicial proceedings even began, this Friday, August 20th, the court will announce its verdict.
Paul Rusesabagina is a resident of the United States. If U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken doesn’t act, no permanent U.S. resident is safe when abroad.
Paul Rusesabagina has been denied his rights since he was seized and brought to Rwanda. First, he was bound and tortured. Next, he was not allowed to pick his own legal representation. For the entirety of his incarceration, he has not been allowed access to his legal defense documents, which are confiscated by prison officials. Witnesses have testified without being placed under oath. All of this violates both international and Rwandan law.
According to the American Bar Association and the Clooney Foundation:
“Mr. Rusesabagina has been denied his right to adequately prepare for trial and his right to confidential communication with counsel – potentially to the irreparable detriment of the defense.”
“The court protected a key witness by disallowing cross-examination and refusing even to require him to testify on oath. This witness—Bishop Constantin Niyomwungeri, the man who allegedly tricked Mr. Rusesabagina into boarding a flight to Rwanda—was key to the court’s finding that Mr. Rusesabagina had been ‘lured’ not ‘kidnapped.’ The court’s treatment of the witness was contrary to the basic principles of a fair trial, which require that defendants be permitted to examine prosecution witnesses who give evidence against them, and the court should not have denied that right.”
“This so-called trial is not a real adversarial proceeding: it has become a spectacle in which the state’s version of events is not allowed to be challenged. Any conviction that emerges from it cannot be considered credible as it will be based on evidence that has not been properly examined.“
No one thinks this trial is anywhere close to fair. No one expects this verdict to be anything but guilty. No one expects the sentence to be lighter than life in prison.
But the U.S. State Department is doing nothing. Join the thousands of people like you who have signed our petition to help bring Paul home.
Related: Paul Kagame is spying on Americans