Rwanda: Upholding Professionalism is Key to the Delivery of Justice

The decision by the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), to ban controversial American defence lawyer, Peter Erlinder, from representing genocide suspect, Alloys Ntabakuze, should send a warning signal to other lawyers, who have chosen to use their affiliation with the court as a platform for genocide denial and revisionism.

Some of the defence lawyers at the Arusha based court, have gone beyond defending the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and supported them in their quest to disseminate the genocide ideology..

These lawyers will stop at nothing, including organizing conferences aimed at promoting revisionism and denying the Genocide and in most cases inviting Genocide suspects as guest speakers.

The ICTR decision on Erlinder teaches others the lesson that mixing work with your client’s sentiments and ideology comes at a cost.

There should be a clear line between legal representation and political activism.

Erlinder’s troubles escalated when he attempted to blur the line and indulge in activities that not only jeopardized his work as a defense lawyer, but also compromised his profession’s work ethics.

For Justice to be delivered, it is imperative that the court upholds professionalism

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