Norwegian and Rwandan authorities should be held responsible for Joseph Nkusi’s arbitrary arrest and illegal detention.

Dr Joseph Nkusi

By Marc Matabaro

Rwandan Dr. Joseph Nkusi who was expelled from Norway appeared in court for the first time where he’s accused of genocide ideology among other accusations. There was an immediate issue with his case. He is former professor at the University of Rwanda before fleeing to Norway.

Prosecution presented a case with 3 accusations including genocide denial, divisionism, and spreading rumors with the aim of getting the population to turn against the country’s government.  However before the case began, the judge at the High court indicated that the case not within the court’s jurisdiction.  The prosecution presented that most of what Dr. Nkusi is accused of were committed using the internet, making them cross border (international) offenses.

The prosecution was unable to make the case as to why they brought their case to the High Court. A decision was made by the court to determine jurisdiction first before the case can proceed. This issue of jurisdiction will be decided on in three (3) weeks. In his 7 years spent in Norway, Dr. Nkusi was critical of Rwanda’s government using his online publication known as “Shikama”. The prosecution  alleges that he minimized the genocide by claiming that Hutus and Tutsis were killed in the same manner (in 1994).

He is also accused of using his publication Shikama to claim that the government of Rwanda is a dictatorship and that there is no political freedom in the country. Nkusi, a 55 year old former professor at the Rwandan National University arrived in Norway in 2009. After 2 years, he sought asylum and was turned down. In October 2016, guarded by Norwegian police, he was put on a plane and deported to Rwanda. Dr. Nkusi who was NOT wanted by Rwandan courts prior to his arrival was jailed immediately.

According to Me Joseph Cikuru Mwanamayi, Lawyer at the Brussels Bar: “legally speaking, Norwegian and Rwandan authorities should be held responsible for Joseph Nkusi’s arbitrary arrest and illegal detention without any criminal charges/trial.”

It makes no sense how various courts claim not to have jurisdiction over a detainee when a government is pursuing him. These courts have also not not published what other court the case should be transferred to. Normally, if a court claims to have no jurisdiction over a case, they indicate what other courts have jurisdiction.

It is not enough to state that the court has no jurisdiction without indicating the fate of the accused in order to undergo trial and either get convicted or be set free.

It is surprising to hear the prosecution say that they “wonder which court needs to hear the case” given that they are the ones who initiated the case to begin with.

When in doubt, the accused should receive the benefit of the doubt.

Pending trial, the accused should be temporarily set free, under court rules and supervision; and hold a trial when a court with jurisdiction is identified.

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