MONTREAL (CN) – A Rwandan man who gave an inflammatory speech in his homeland that some claim helped incite genocide was granted a 1-week reprieve from deportation by a Quebec Superior Court judge this week, after his lawyers filed a motion for a safeguard order.
Leon Mugesera has been fighting the Canadian government for 20 years to remain in the country, claiming he will be subject to torture or death if sent back to Rwanda.
Mugesera, a Hutu, was a prefectural official in Rwanda’s dominant MRND Party when he gave a speech to party members on Nov. 22, 1992 in which he allegedly called for the extermination of Tutsis.
The Rwandan minister of justice then issued an arrest warrant for him for inciting hatred, and Mugesera fled to Canada.
The Rwandan genocide began less than 2 years later.
Mugesera’s speech is controversial not just for its sentiments, and the genocide later, but because some of the allegedly inflammatory statements he made do not appear in the translation of the speech filed with Canadian immigration.
Many, however, including Philip Gourevitch, author of “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families,” have said that Mugesera’s speech added fuel to the ethnic hatred that exploded in 1994.
On Jan. 11 this year, a Canadian Federal Court dismissed Mugesera’s application for stay of deportation, concluding that he would not face a significant risk if returned to Rwanda.
One day before his scheduled deportation, Mugesera fell ill and was hospitalized in Quebec City, where he lives, giving his lawyers time to file.
The motion was filed on behalf of Mugesera against Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Attorney General of Canada.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture has gotten involved, requesting that Canada delay deportation while it reviews Mugesera’s fear-of-torture claims.
In their motion, in French, Mugesera’s attorneys say returning him to Rwanda would deprive the Committee Against Torture from making a decision on his fate, and that it would be “unfair” to separate him from his family. His attorneys also say that Canadian authorities have never tried Mugesera on any charges and that the Committee Against Torture, in a decision issued Nov. 14, 2011, saw “major failures” in the way Canada handles these types of cases, requesting that Canada review its policies.
Mugesera is being held in a detention centre near Montreal and will be back in court to request an interlocutory or permanent injunction. He is represented by Roy Larochelle Avocats.