The case of Lin Muyizere 

On Friday 26th of September, Lin Muyizere, husband of jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, received a letter from the Dutch Immigration Service (IND). In this letter he was accused of genocide. The accusations seem to have a political background: further inflammation of Rwandan opposition.

Lin Muyizere handing over a petition about Ingare to Angelien Eijsink, member of the Dutch House of Representatives, 21 january 2014 – Credits: Anneke Verbraeken

Jan Hofdijk, legal advisor, wouldn’t accept the letter from the Dutch immigration service sent to Lin Muyizere. ‘The IND believes lies from Rwanda.’ He returned the letter with an additional letter of his own, summoning the IND to nullify the accusations.

Muyizere has the Dutch nationality since 2012 and is devastated.  ‘How can I tell my 12-year old son this news?’ he said. His Dutch lawyer Jan Hofdijk is furious: “Rwanda uses Ingabire’s husband to break her. They have no evidence other than two anonymous witnesses. This letter is Muyizere’s death sentence” He added.

Victoire Ingabire was in The Netherlands when the genocide started in 1994. She lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She returned to Rwanda in 2010 to participate in Rwandan presidential elections. But she never got a chance. In April 2010, she was arrested for the first time. In 2013 the Supreme Court found her guilty of threatening state security, denying genocide and spreading rumours intended to incite people. The Supreme Court reaffirmed a previous judgment and increased her sentence from 8 to 15years imprisonment. Her trial and appeal were branded as ‘politically motivated’ by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The current Rwandan regime is admired for its economic progress, since the elections of 2010 the country’s leader Paul Kagame has increasingly become a target of criticism. He supported rebels in Eastern DRC according to several UN-reports and he leads his country with an iron fist.  Last year, hundreds of people disappeared but recently some 40 to 60 bodies were discovered by a fisherman in a lake that borders Rwanda and Burundi.


Rwandans in Belgium and The Netherlands panic stricken after accusations against Lin Muyizere


‘At the time I was only two, but I wouldn’t be surprised Immigration service accuses me of genocide.’

Muyizere and Ingabire’s sons – credits: Anneke Verbraeken

Following recent accusations of genocide against Lin Muyizere, husband of jailed opposition leader Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, Rwandans in Belgium and The Netherlands are worried. What happened to Muyizere can happen to every Rwandan in exile. Last year I made a research on the procedure through which these prosecutions are materialised and the findings were shocking. The evidence is based on lies, manipulations, assumptions, prejudice, ignorance, incompetence, indifference and worse of all: anonymous witnesses and lack of checks.

Rwandans in The Netherlands have every reason to be afraid. The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) are busy with a true witch-hunt on Rwandan immigrants. The last four years hundreds of files were re-checked on so-called ‘1F indications’. 1 F is named after an article about mass murderers and war criminals in the Geneva Convention. As a result, at least 15 Rwandan immigrants are now officially accused of being mass murderers; at least two people are in jail awaiting their eviction and two others are in jail because Rwanda asked for their extradition.

Very important in this procedure is an ‘Individueel Ambtsbericht (IAB)’ [meaning personal report on the accused]. This report is relied upon throughout the entire procedure as well as in court. This report is based on an investigation carried out in Rwanda by the Dutch embassy. The embassy uses special researchers, mostly experienced lawyers, to do this investigation. They talk to witnesses and collect evidence about the guilt or innocence of concerned individuals. They put their findings on paper and it is the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs which formulates the official personal report.

When I was in Kigali last May, I talked to one of those special researchers. What he told me was really shocking: at least two positive reports he made on two accused were left in a desk drawer in Kigali, while a negative report, made by another researcher, was sent to The Netherlands. He was very angry and that’s why he wanted to talk to me, even though he knew it was risky for him and his family.


Oostings successor Brenninkmeijer concluded the IAB’s were not composed very accurately and said the attitude of the Immigration service was biased and one-sided.

Back in the Netherlands I talked to IND, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with judges. However, the police and the prosecutors have up until now not agreed to an appointment. From these talks I found out that the IAB’s witnesses are actually anonymous, the only person who knows who they are and who is in contact with them is the special researcher. In this sense the researcher can invite witnesses, evidence, and leave evidence out: there is nobody to really check his work. There is nobody from the embassy, IND or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would talk to these witnesses in order to check their statements. In a country like Rwanda, where truth has many faces, a procedure such as this is at least alarming.  I am not the only critic of the IAB, the Dutch Ombudsman wrote negative reports on two occasions, in 1998 and 2007. Ombudsman Marten Oosting concluded that embassies were not transparent about witnesses, sources and how they got their information. Also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not check if sources and information were complete and the Ministry was careless with names of sources and witnesses. Things had not changed much in 2007. Oostings successor Brenninkmeijer concluded the IAB’s were not composed very accurately and said the attitude of the Immigration service was biased and one-sided. From my own experience I can say nothing has changed. Yet, this controversial procedure is the basis on which accusations of the world’s worst crimes are formed.  Dutch judges seem to trusts an IAB almost unconditionally.


The ways in which the IND prepares a file is disturbing.


In addition, the ways in which the IND prepares a file is disturbing. Often the file on the accused is full of mistakes. Places and names are misspelled or confused. The IND uses a lot of unreliable Internet sources, regime-tied ONG’s like African Rights and quotes a lot from the Arusha Tribunal, with no relation to the accused.  Together with their counsels, the people targeted by these prosecutions are left with all these documents to demonstrate that none of it is true.

Well, at least the Dutch judicial system is honest and transparent, so the accused has a fair chance one would say. On the contrary, the Dutch judicial system works very much against him. The accused has to cope with administrative law, not the criminal law. In administrative law, the prosecution may accuse, but doesn’t have to prove anything. The burden of proof falls on the accused.  In the case of Rwanda, for an accused to prove his/her innocence is practically impossible given that the crimes at issue occurred twenty years ago.

Dutch judges have, up until now, decided in almost all cases that the accused can be sent back to Rwanda. This follows a verdict of the European Court of Human Rights issued a few years back in which the Court  found the Rwandan judicial system of good quality. People, who are accused of 1F, loose everything in The Netherlands. They become illegal, they are not allowed to work and have no right on housing or health care. For their children it is devastating. Worth noting, it seems to be Rwandans active in the political opposition and Rwandans with estate in Rwanda who are targeted.


It is very difficult for Dutch authorities to admit that there is still something wrong in a system they invested so much in.


Prison of Nyanza – Credits: Anneke Verbraeken

But what makes The Netherlands so eager to accuse Rwandans? Officially, the government says it will not house mass murderers and that it is better to send these people to Rwanda where the crimes were committed. For the Dutch government, Rwanda is best placed to decide on these cases.  Also it is much cheaper to send them to Rwanda because a trial in The Netherlands is more expensive and a time consuming affair. Fact is The Netherlands supported the Rwandan judicial system since the genocide. They trained judges, prosecutors and lawyers. They even built part of a prison in Nyanza. Therefore, it is very difficult for Dutch authorities to admit that there is still something wrong in a system they invested so much in. The only counterbalance is that the Dutch have not signed an extradition treaty with Rwanda.

With the new accusations on Muyizere, every Rwandan is afraid. Remy, his son said on Facebook: ‘I was only two years old in 1994. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they send me an accusation as well.’

When we look at Muyizere’s personal report (the IAB), there are issues of concern. The request was received by the embassy in Kigali on June 10, 2010. That is just a few weeks after the first arrest of his wife, in April 2010, and only a few weeks before the presidential elections. During this period in Rwanda a minor spark could produce a big explosion. The tension was enormous. Journalists and politicians fled the country, media were banned; grenades were falling everywhere. A journalist and a member of The Green Party was also murdered at this time.  Yet it was during this period that some Dutch civil servants decided to start an investigation targeting Ingabire’s husband. Either one is deadly naïve or completely ignorant of the situation, or there are other motives in starting an investigation at this moment. I let the reader decide.

By Anneke Verbraeken