15 APRIL 2010


The intriguing case of Rwanda massacre suspect Callixte Mbarushimana remains open to questions despite the passage of 16 years. More than being protected, he was exceptionally given jobs, some as promotions, in other peacekeeping missions like in Angolo, Timor Leste, and Kosovo. It is very unusual for a local staff member to get such assignments unless strongly recommended. Such movements require high-level intervention either by an influential government or by a senior Secretariat official. While it would not be difficult to guess the influential government that would help the suspect -- which most likely is the same as the one in which he sought eventual refuge -- it is quite open to ask about the role of two senior Secretariat officials. One of them, who had an infamous role during the massacre, and later became very influential, is so obvious that we'll leave him to stoop further into oblivion. The other is a shameless bungler who insists on exploiting the U.N. through his French connection to the last possible privilege. To be very clear, we are not pointing a finger -- we are repeating a question we raised over the years.

Jean-Marie Guehenno has just been appointed head of a Senior Advisory Group for the Review of International Civilian Capacities. According to a statement, the overall goal of the review is "to improve the international response in the aftermath of conflict by strengthening the availability, deployment, and appropriateness of civilian capacities of peacebuilding." The group's responsibilities include "identifying changes that can be made within the U.N. to ensure its capacities can be deployed effectively and to identify member states that can deploy those efforts." It is further explained that the Review is "a key component for action outlined in Mr. Ban's 2009 Report on Peacekeeping in the Immediate Aftermath of Conflict"!

While very few would recall Mr. Ban's 2009 Report, most observers would see through that gibberish: it's a way to accommodate a French diplomat. Why? Because France has a veto vote in the Security Council. France, a valuable U.N. supporter, deserves every attention and courtesy. Yet, the particular designation of Guehenno raises concerns. With no job prospects in France, why should the U.N. accommodate the most scandal-ridden peacekeeping head? A total failure when officially in charge of peacekeeping, how could he now succeed as a mere review group? How could he review the results of his own shortcomings?

But then there is the more specific case in his possible -- repeat possible -- involvement in protecting and helping an infamous Rwandan massacre suspect. Although he was not at U.N. Headquarters during the massacre, Guehenno was in charge of the peacekeeping mission to which the suspect was appointed and in some cases, PROMOTED. As the case turned scandalous, it would have been elementary to ask the man directly in charge of peacekeeping what he knew about it. At least he should have been curious enough to ask.

It has been 16 years since Callixte Mbarushimana was accused by his former U.N. colleagues in Rwanda of assisting in the massacres. Yet his case remains pending. After being arrested on an Interpol request, he remains "under investigation" in France. The level of assistance he received from certain U.N. quarters -- particularly in moving to other Peacekeeping missions like Timor Leste and Kosovo indicates that some highly-placed officials at U.N. Headquarters lent their protective influence. The question is not only who but why? Not only what were his connections, but what does he KNOW?

While unforum.com raised the question regularly since 2002, it was only in November 2004 that mainstream media caught up with an item reported by unforum.com two years previously about a massacre suspect in Rwanda:

But it was too late, too vague. A television network that expressed initial interest ended up reproducing the spinned version -- mainly shaming "the U.N." in general, while evading the real hard question. The most recent outrage related to a "compensation" of about $35,000 to Callixte Mbarushimana, and dropping the case against him. That led many to accuse U.N. bodies certain of "mismanaging evidence" and "betraying the genocide victims" by ruling in the suspect's favor. As anyone within the system knows, any personnel case could be argued forcibly well in any internal Board. The quality of those representing the claimant or the personnel office; procedures overlooked or applied; available or unavailable information -- so many elements could play into the hands of any administrative argument. In fact, some lawyers may have felt that a case was won for an improperly fired staff!

The real question is not why he was paid -- which is extremely frustrating to many -- but WHO HELPED HIM AFTER THE MASSACRES GET SUPERVISORY JOBS IN ANGOLA AND KOSOVO?

It is by now public knowledge that during 1994 Rwanda massacres in Kigali, Callixte Mbarushimana was widely reputed to have actively participated in mass killing of Tutsi. As the U.N. international staff were withdrawn, Callixte took control of the U.N. compound. As reported by several sources -- and later by the Sunday Times of London -- he was allegedly seen collaborating with Hutu death squads. Among his alleged victims was the UNDP Administrative officer in Kigali Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse who was hacked to death with school girls she was sheltering. Others suspected him of fingering out U.N. Senegalese Captain Mbaye who courageously tried to save women and children by smuggling them out in his jeep. A Muslim, Captain Mbaye secretly worked with Christian Church priests and nuns to hide people until he found a way of sneaking them out of harm's way.

Despite widespread accusations, no action was taken by U.N. peacekeeping, UNDP, or any other U.N. body to investigate. He remained on the U.N. payroll in Rwanda for about SEVEN years. When the Sunday Times picked up his story at the time, it was told that he was no more on the U.N. payroll. That was not true. In fact Callixte Mbarushimana was in effect promoted (!!) to assignments in Angola, then Kosovo. It is not common for local U.N. staff to move from their country of recruitment to another mission. In exceptional cases and based on outstanding performance -- or passing a General Service to Professional exam -- a local staffer could be moved elsewhere or granted an international posting. But given the man's notorious reputation, he must have received serious help from someone influential enough at Headquarters in New York. He could not have applied or been recruited locally in another country; nor would he have any special local qualifications -- Angolans speak Portuguese, Kosovars speak Albanian or Serbo Croat. The Rwandan at best is Francophone.

It is interesting to note in report AT/DEC/1192 dated 30 September 2004, Callixte worked with UNDP-Luanda as "a Local Area Network Manager" (!) from December 1996 to December 1999 -- three years, and that was two years AFTER the massacres. On 10 November 2000, he was recruited for the U.N. Interim Administration (UNMIK) in Kosovo as an "Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Architect" in Gilan region at the IFLD3 -- a level on a limited contract, like most mission appointments -- through 30 April 2001. His contract was not extended -- he had been arrested on an international warrant on 11 April.

It it also interesting to note that in 1999, in an undated "Statement of Concern," Gregory Alex, Human Policy Advisor, Rwanda, formerly Chief, Emergency Unit UNDP Rwanda, made "very serious accusations" referring to Callixte's role in the genocide and in the elimination and murder of U.N. staff members and their families. He particularly referred to the death of Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse. Emboldened, while now serving UNDP in Angola, Callixte wrote directly to the Administrator of UNDP in a letter dated 26 November 1999, strongly refuting the charges. He followed it -- with a letter straight to the Secretary General (former Peacekeeping Chief during Rwanda massacres) on 22 February 2000. By November of that year, he was found that other job ENTAILING DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY in Kosovo. But then, with the case gradually uncovered, the Representative of Rwanda in New York delivered a warrant for his arrest to the Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs who on 10 April informed UNMIK's Legal Advisor, waiving the staff member's immunity from legal process and from arrest or detention. Then the man obtained the backing of Lis Sejr, Judge of the District Court of Gjilan, where he was stationed. On 12 April, she ruled that the provisional detention should be for "the shortest possible period," she found "no evidence of the alleged crime." Then on 6 June she ruled -- refusing the extradition. Five days later a panel -- in the same district of Gjilan -- sustained the local judge and on 19 June the Supreme Court of Kosovo refused the extradition request, ordering the man's release. That is some power for a Rwandan who had just arrived in a totally unfamiliar land only months earlier. It is amazing that he could muster such local judicial support so swiftly at a level to which most Kosovars could hardly aspire. Did he receive highly placed, informed and timely help? From whom? Kosovo is totally under a U.N. mandate, ruled by expediently designated foreign politicians. Six U.N. Representatives were changed during as many years. What role did the U.N. Representative office in Pristina play in such an obviously contentious case? With whom in New York was he in touch, or vice-versa? Besides proper appropriate contact between legal colleagues, who else from Headquarters was involved? WHAT WAS THE ROLE OF THE HEAD OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING DEPARTMENT?

Appointments in the field are fairly well supervised and closely handled. Interested staff and retiring or transferred diplomats know whom to contact. Officers directly in charge have acquired wide influence by accommodating highly placed requests; some of them were gratefully rewarded by promotions and occasional higher level mission assignments. Who among them was involved in this particular case? On whose request? Again, WHAT WAS GUEHENNO'S ROLE?