State Department Suggests Immunity for Unofficial Acts
For the first time in history a foreign president’s civil immunity in U.S. courts to exceed that of U.S. Presidents
St. Paul, MN – Sept 12 – For the first time in history, the U.S. State Department has requested civil immunity for a foreign head of state in U.S. courts, beyond the immunity that U.S. Presidents can claim after Clinton v. Jones limited U.S. Presidential immunity to wrongful acts committed while head of state only. The State Department has claimed immunity for Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s alleged wrongful acts before he was in government, an immunity which Bill Clinton could not claim from Paula Jones’ lawsuits when he was President of the United States when she alleged wrongful acts committed while he was Governor of Arkansas.
Today, lawyers for the wives of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, assassinated by Defendant Kagame as part of mass war crimes and crimes against humanity committed before he was president, filed formal Objections to the August 29 State Department Suggestion of Immunity, which was submitted to the district court on behalf of Rwanda’s President Kagame. In February 2011, the State Dept. Statement of Interest of the United States of America, No. 1:104 CV 1360 (Feb. 14, 2011) (LMB) has already admitted that immunity is only applicable to “official acts by a sitting government” with which all parties agree.
According to IHLI Director, and member of the Plaintiffs Legal Team in Habyarimana v. Kagame, Prof. Peter Erlinder observed:
“It astounding that the Obama/Clinton/Koh State Department would choose Paul Kagame as the first head of state on whose behalf to assert immunity for un-official actions wrongful acts before becoming head of state, in light of the clear legal guidance of Clinton v. Jones , and the factual record of massive crimes committed by Kagame before he became titular head of state, under questionable circumstances in 2000, and again in 2003 and with negative Whitehouse comments that “an election is not democracy” after opposition parties were outlawed, journalists expelled and assassinated in the rigged election in August 2010.
The Objection on behalf of the Presidential widows filed lists French and Spanish Indictments; Four UN Security Council Reports from 2001-2008; a 600-pp UN HCHR Report of RPF genocide, war crimes, etc. between 1993-2003 issued Oct 1, 2010; UN-ICTR Prosecutor Reports from 1994-2003; all of which confirm massive crimes committed by Kagame and his RPF that are in the public record.
Erlinder also observed, “The irony of the “suggestion of immunity” is compounded because Victoire Ingabire, the would-be candidate against Mr. Kagame who I attempted to advise in Rwanda in May 2010, which resulted in my own arrest by Kagame on charges of “genocide ideology” is now in the dock in Kigali facing trumped-up terrorism charges, as reported in the NYTimes 9/10 ….the same week the Obama administration has asserted immunity for massive crimes for Mr. Kagame is charged in multiple criminal indictments and UN reports. The question is….why is IS protecting Mr. Kagame so important for U.S. policy-makers, anyway?”