Loretta Lynch’s Rwanda ‘credential’

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News broadcast Feb. 15, 2015

Loretta Lynch
Loretta Lynch

KPFA Evening News Anchor: Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for attorney general, has cited her service as special counsel to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda as a credential, unlike her controversial 2012 settlement with the HSBC bank after the bank admitted to facilitating money-laundering by Mexican drug cartels. Critics of the International Criminal Court and the dominant narrative about the Rwandan massacres dispute the account. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Bloomberg News heralded Loretta Lynch’s moral fiber in a story titled “Rwanda Tribunal Taught Loretta Lynch Real Power of Prosecutors.” The story said that after a witness recanted his testimony against defendant Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, U.S. War Crimes Ambassador Stephen Rapp recruited Loretta Lynch to construct a witness narrative counter to that of the recanting witness. Lynch traveled to Rwanda, where she rode into a rural region in an SUV and sat waiting for the Rwandan government’s investigators to bring her witnesses against Kamuhanda.

John Philpot, ICTR defense attorney and co-editor of “Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice,” said that, in a neutral setting, such a search for witnesses might have been plausible, but that Rwanda was not a neutral setting in which witnesses felt safe to speak their own truth and that the whole prosecution at the ICTR was biased, “victor’s justice” prosecution that indicted only enemies of the dictatorship that won the Rwandan war with United States support.

“Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice,” Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, editors, from Baraka Books
“Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice,” Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, editors, from Baraka Books

The ICTR’s function, he said, had been to prop up this dictatorship of Paul Kagame, even as his army crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, creating a permanent state of war.

John Philpot: Loretta Lynch covered for that, wouldn’t criticize that and, in that context, this woman and, for example, Stephen Rapp, the United States war crimes ambassador – they are covering for United States interests and propping up a dictatorship which has created war throughout Central Africa. We live in a period of almost permanent war; and people are more aware of the permanent war in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and also in the Ukraine, but they’re not aware of the similar and just as serious, if not more so, war in Central Africa.

KPFA: CIUT-Toronto host Phil Taylor, whose weekly Taylor Report frequently covers the war in Central Africa and the U.N. tribunals, also said that Loretta Lynch’s service to the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda was service to Rwanda’s dictatorial regime and that the ICTR itself was like a regime.

Phil Taylor: They really were engaged in a political exercise to justify the regime that exists there today, which is a military dictatorship established by Paul Kagame masquerading as a political structure. And that people calling themselves lawyers and judges associate themselves with such victor’s justice, that is a disgrace.

They only tried those who were defeated – the previous government and, ethnically, the people who were called the Hutu. It’s like a regime, the ICTR, and it’s a self-congratulating regime.

KPFA: For Pacifica, KPFA and Afrobeatradio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch, Colored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.