Today, 23rd August 2022, marks eight months since Alphonse Nteziryayo and seven other men were first unlawfully detained in Niamey, Niger. All had either been acquitted after trials before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, or had been released following the completion of their sentences.
After serving his sentence of imprisonment, Mr Nteziryayo spent nearly six years in a safe house in Arusha where the ICTR, and its successor International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, is headquartered. He was refused the chance to be reunited with his family in Europe. The UN eventually negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to relocate the eight men, but within weeks of their arrival in Niamey, the government of Niger confiscated their identity documents and posted armed police outside their residence. The men have remained unlawfully detained ever since, unable to leave except for medical or similar reasons. The government of Niger has refused to comply with various orders made by a judge of the IRMCT, who has described the situation as “a crisis”.
Iain Edwards, counsel for Mr Nteziryayo, along with lawyers for the seven other men, issued a press release today calling on all countries that respect the rule of law to agree to resettle their clients. Iain said, “The international community, including the UN as an institution, cannot wash its hands of my client or of his long-suffering family. It must recognise that Mr Nteziryayo has served his sentence and should be allowed to live his final years in peace, reunited with his wife and children. I call on all countries that believe in the rule of law to step up and offer a sustainable solution to what risks amounting to an indelible stain on the legacy of the ICTR.”