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Rights groups sue to revoke refugee status of former Rwanda army general

Two South African rights groups on Tuesday filed suit against the government of South Africa to revoke the refugee status of former Rwandan army chief of staff General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrant Rights (CoRMSA) [advocacy websites] argue that South Africa is violating national and international refugee law [Star Africa report] by allowing Nyamwasa to remain in the country. Nyamwasa is accused of participating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [JURIST news archive] during which 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were killed.

The Rwanda National Police Force [official website] issued an international arrest warrant [JURIST report] in January for four former Rwandan government officials, including Nyamwasa, now living in the US and South Africa, all of whom were former allies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official profile]. Rwanda's Military High Court [official website] found all four men guilty in absentia [AFP report] of disturbing public order, threatening state security and other offenses, handing down sentences ranging from 20 to 24 years in prison. The men have denied the allegations [Africa Global Village report], calling the charges politically motivated. Most observers do not believe the US or South Africa will act on the warrants [BBC report]. The military court summoned the men [All Africa report] in November to stand trial on the charges. The former officials published a paper [text] in August criticizing Kagame's government for corruption and human rights violations. In July, the South African foreign ministry blamed foreign agents [BBC report] for a shooting that left Nyamwasa injured. Rwanda's government claims Nyamwasa and Karegeya were behind a grenade attack [Monitor report] in Rwanda's capital city of Kigali last February. Nyamwasa is wanted in France and Spain [Business Day report] for his role in the genocide.

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