French government bears 'significant responsibility' for Rwanda genocide: US report

·2 min read

The French government holds “significant responsibility” for enabling the Rwandan 1994 genocide since it was aware that it was being prepared, according to an American report published by Kigali on Monday.

The report was compiled by Washington DC-based lawyer Robert Muse and his firm Levy Firestone Muse LLP, which was contracted by the Rwanda government to investigate France’s role in the massacre of some 800,000 people.

A French presidential advisor told journalists on Monday that the report was part of a “key step in getting our two countries closer”.

The Rwandan report said that although the ultimate responsibility for the killing was with those who carried out the genocide, the government in Paris had helped create institutions involved in the brutal wave of murders.

The report said it could not be the “final word” on France’s role in the genocide, targeting Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, however, it pointed to the French government's close relationship with Rwanda's Hutu president of the time, Juvenal Habyarimana.

"Only the French government was an indispensable collaborator in building the institutions that would become instruments of the genocide. No other foreign government both knew the dangers posed by Rwandan extremists and enabled those extremists...", the report states.

It said the publication by France of all documents and further testimony from French officials would help establish the truth.

Mending relations

Publication of this latest report comes shortly after Rwanda’s commemorated 27 years since the mass killings on 7 April 1994 when people were hacked to death by machetes and sexual violence was rife.

France’s government announced on the same day that it would open up all archives detailing the work of then-French President François Mitterrand, as well as former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.

France’s involvement has long been the subject of tension between the two countries, and French President Emmanuel Macron has made some moves to try and mend relations.

He ordered an investigation to try and answer those long-standing accusations of complicity.

The enquiry, led by historian Vincent Duclert, determined that Paris failed to help stop the killing and held it accountable for its inability to see preparations for the genocide.

The 600-page Rwanda-commissioned report was the result of four years of research, entitled “A foreseeable genocide: the role of the French Government in connection with the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi”.

In a statement from Rwanda’s council of ministers on Monday, the Rwandan government hailed the initiatives taken by Macron and “the prospect of a new chapter in the relations between France and Rwanda”.