International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

How ‘accomplice’ to Rwanda genocide turned up in a rural English pulpit

The Church of England is currently looking into allegations made by human rights groups concerning Rwandan bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In the 1990’s Human Rights Watch described Ruhumuliza as “acting as a spokesman for the genocidal government,” but despite these allegations he was first made bishop of Kigali, then the Church of England moved him to Canada in 1997, then to Cameroon, and now to England where he serves St. Mary and All Saints Church in Worcestshire, England. The British Home Office originally denied his visa application citing irregularities, but he was eventually granted six month renewable work permits after the Church of England hired him a lawyer. This is an unfortunate public relations situation for the Church of England, but it also brings up an interesting problem. The ICC will try only the “worst of the worst,” but should just the “worst” go free? Ruhumuliza not only acts as a spiritual leader, but also as a ministry, education and training officer for African and Asian Anglicans in Birmingham, England. He is a leader in the community, and yet he praised the “peace loving” government of Rwanda to the international community and denounced the RPF; he wrote that the RPF was “destroying everything, killing everybody they [met] while the government [was] trying to bring peace in the country.” Joshua Sang, a radio broadcaster for Kass FM radio in Kenya, was indicted in 2011 on three counts of crimes against humanity in regards to the situation in Kenya. Though Sang never held a gun he was indirectly responsible for murders, deportations, and torture. Like Sang Ruhumuliza has no literal blood on his hands, but he is indirectly responsible for thousands of deaths in the country as he aided the government to cover up their crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is ending and because of the temporal restrictions Ruhumuliza may not have been able to be prosecuted anyway, but I believe that he should be sent back to Rwanda to face justice in a domestic court. He is a bishop, but this does not excuse what he did, it has been 20 years, but should this man be able to live freely and teach young people? Will the Church of England continue to protect its own?



2 responses to “How ‘accomplice’ to Rwanda genocide turned up in a rural English pulpit

  1. tjojojojo February 17, 2014 at 4:01 am

    There seems to be a pretty strong case that Ruhumuliza was complicit in the Rwandan genocide. As he was working to hide what was really going on from the rest of the world, it makes sense that he should share at least some blame, especially given his role as a bishop. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the ICC should be responsible for punishing him. While the ICC punishes the worst of the worst, the ones who to most local governments have an aura of impunity shielding them, those less responsible might still get punished without the ICC taking action. That is, the current Rwandan government or the English government under pressure from human rights groups, could themselves prosecute Ruhumuliza.

    I also wonder to what extent Ruhumuliza was acting on his own. Was he merely following the orders of those above him, and what were the circumstances under which he refused to shelter the Tutsis? Was he mostly complicit, or was he acting on his own? For me, this article raises more questions than it answers. While on one hand I think it’s terrible that a man like Ruhumuliza is allowed to walk around as a free man with responsibility and power, but on the other hand, I wonder what the specific details of his involvement were during the genocide.

  2. Alana Tiemessen February 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

    The ICC would not be able to try this individual because Rwanda is not a party to the Rome Statute and its temporal jurisdiction starts only in 2002. But, there have been many Rwandan perpetrators tried abroad – in Europe and North America.

    If you have an interest in the role of the Catholic church and religion in Rwanda during the genocide I recommend Timothy Longman’s book: Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda.

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