International genocide and war crimes task force to be established in Paris

France plans to set up a panel to try cases of genocide and crimes against humanity at the Paris High Court (pictured), according to Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.


AFP - France plans to set up a new panel to try cases of genocide and crimes against humanity, two ministers said in a newspaper column published Wednesday.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said legislation would be presented to parliament in the coming six months to create the new unit within the Paris high court.

The genocide and crimes against humanity unit will be given special powers to try cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have occurred outside France's borders and involve many jurisdictions.

The move will allow the cases to come to court more quickly and provide ways to address many of the complications that arise from the serious cases, the ministers argued.

"France, the founding nation of human rights, will never be a sanctuary for perpetrators of genocide," they wrote in the column published in the Paris newspaper Le Monde.

The plan was announced hours before Kouchner arrived for talks in Rwanda on Thursday with President Paul Kagame following the resumption of diplomatic ties between France and Rwanda in November.

Kouchner will also visit Ntarama church, now a memorial for the 1994 genocide, and hold talks with officials of the Ibuka Rwanda association which groups survivors.

"We will resume cooperation, in all areas, we'll see how fast," said a French official speaking on condition of anonymity.

After Rwanda, Kouchner was to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

France is investigating more than a dozen cases against Rwandan genocide suspects living in France including Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of late president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down in April 1994, opening a period of violence that would escalate to genocide.

Only three people have been formally charged in France for their alleged role in the genocide: Kigali priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, Laurent Bucyibaruta, a former state official in Gikongoro, southern Rwanda, and Pascal Simbikangwa, who was arrested on the French island of Mayotte.

Kigali has repeatedly accused France of siding with the Hutus during the genocide in which 800,000 people, essentially minority Tutsis, were massacred between April and July 1994.


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