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Court challenge against decision to grant asylum to Rwandan war crimes suspect

Universal Jurisdiction News

Judicial review proceedings are ongoing against a decision by the South African Department of Home Affairs to grant asylum to former Rwandan army general and suspected war criminal, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. Among other allegations, in February 2008 Nyamwasa was indicted by a Spanish judge for war crimes allegedly committed while he was in command of Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In June 2011, Nyamwasa survived an apparent assassination attempt while in Johannesburg and was shortly afterwards granted refugee status in South Africa.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) and the South African Litigation Centre launched judicial review proceedings in 2012 in relation to the asylum decision, and hearings took place on 17 May 2013 at South Gauteng High Court. Lawyers for the Department of Home Affairs submitted that they had been aware of the allegations against Nyamwasa and had made an informed decision based on that information; however, they also submitted that the information used in making that decision could not be disclosed. CoRMSA, for its part, argued that persons suspected of committing international crimes should be excluded from the benefits of aslyum. Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi reserved judgment.

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