France authorizes researcher to access restricted files on Rwanda

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PARIS – The highest administrative court in France on Friday granted a researcher access to the restricted archives of the French presidency concerning the role of the country before and during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.The Council of State ruled that the French researcher, François Graner, had “a legitimate interest” to consult the archives of 1990-1995 “to shed light on a debate of public interest”.

Graner has written several books on the events in Rwanda that resulted in the massacre of some 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis.

Critics say that France was too favorable to the government led by the Hutus of Rwanda, whose supporters perpetrated the genocide, and closed their eyes too long.

France denies any complicity, but has launched several investigations in recent years.

Under French law, the presidential archives remain closed to the general public for 60 years after their official deposit – mainly to preserve the confidentiality of sensitive documents. They can however be opened before that under certain conditions on request of the researchers.

According to Paris-based human rights group Survie, Graner has been denied access to the archives since his first request in 2015.

In April 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a commission of researchers and historians to browse the archives “to analyze the role and involvement of France” in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. He must make his conclusions l ‘next year.

The Council of State’s decision comes a week after a French court approved the extradition of the Rwandan genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga to a United Nations court. Kabuga’s lawyers have appealed the decision, which means that the businessman accused of providing machetes to the genocide killers remains on French territory for the time being.

Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press

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