US piles pressure on Spain, UK over arrested Rwandan general
A high-level review of allegations against Rwandaâ€™s spy chief Gen Karenzi Karake arrested last month in London, by an interagency panel within the US government found the case is baseless, says a former top State Department official.
The interagency review was ordered by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in July 2008 when Gen Karake was just ending his 1year tenure as deputy commander of UN troops in Darfur, Sudan. Earlier in February, Gen Karake had appeared on a list of 40 Rwandan officials indicted by a Spanish judge over war crimes.
Following the case, the UN moved not to renew Gen Karakeâ€™s contract amid international uproar. However, the US government advised the United Nations Secretary Ban ki-moon, who reversed the decision, and Gen Karakeâ€™s contract was extended.
According to Dr Jendayi Frazer, the Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs at the time, the interagency review found the Spanish allegations â€œwere false and unsubstantiated.â€ She chaired the panel.
Gen Karakeâ€™s etradition hearing opens September 29 in London. The Rwandan government has dismissed his arrested and pressure is growing on the UK to consider the facts carefully.
â€œIt would be a travesty of justice if the U.K. were to extradite Mr. Karake to Spain to stand trial,â€ says Dr Frazer in a commentary for the Wall Street Journal, published Friday last week.
In the strongly worded article, Dr Frazer has no kind words for the growing trend in Europe for the so called â€œuniversal jurisdictionâ€. Together with the International Criminal Court (ICC), she says these instances are used to settle political scores.
â€œFar from pursuing justice for victims, these courts have become a venue for public-relations exercises by activist groups,â€ Dr Frazer writes.
â€œWithin African countries, they have been manipulated by one political faction to sideline another, often featuring in electoral politics.â€
Several countries in Western Europe including Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France empowered their national courts with universal jurisdiction. In 2002 the International Criminal Court came into force.
Africa and Europe were early adherents and today constitute the bulk of ICC membership. But India, China, Russia and most of the Middle Eastâ€”representing well over half the worldâ€™s populationâ€”stayed out. So did the United States. Leaders in both parties worried that an unaccountable supranational court would become a venue for politicized show trials. The track record of the ICC and European courts acting under universal jurisdiction has amply borne out these concerns.
Only when U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatened to move NATO headquarters out of Brussels in 2003 did Belgium rein in efforts to indict former President George H.W. Bush, and Gens. Colin Powell and Tommy Franks, for alleged â€œwar crimesâ€ during the 1990-91 Gulf War.
Spanish courts have indicted American military personnel in Iraq and investigated he U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, writes Frazer.