The European Business Council for Africa

Delivered by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, on the case of Paul Rusesabagina

Thank you Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

The European Union has been closely following the human rights situation in Rwanda. We address human rights issues on a regular basis in our dialogue with Rwanda, in particular in the political dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement.

The European Union will continue to engage with the Rwandese authorities on the promotion of governance, civil society and human rights. We will continue to advocate for the full implementation of all human rights obligations as well as of the Universal Periodic Report recommendations.

On the case of Paul Rusesabagina, the European External Action Service and the European Union Delegation in Kigali have consistently and repeatedly - including recently - made the Rwandan authorities aware of our expectation that the rights of Mr Rusesabagina and co-accused to due process and fair trial be fully respected. The competent Belgian authorities have had regular consular access to Mr Rusesabagina, and have kept us informed.

We have monitored the trial, both in the Courtroom and on-line. And as such, we have taken note of the verdict condemning Mr Rusesabagina to 25 years in prison on terrorism-related charges. We have also taken note of the verdict against his co-accused.

We understand that Mr Rusesabagina has the right to appeal the verdict. We are aware of the reports that Mr Rusesabagina did not receive a fair trial, with regard to the right of defence.

We are aware of concerns about due process, his access to lawyers, legal documents and time for preparation. However, we note that the authorities remedied many of the issues, after they had been raised with them.

Beyond the procedural concerns, which clearly merit to be expressed, we should not lose sight of the serious allegations against the accused and the body of evidence presented by prosecution, much of which provided through cooperation with a Member State's prosecution authorities.

Dear Members,

You can rest assured that we will continue to closely follow his particular case, and we will continue to engage with Rwandan Government on human rights issues, as you see we do with all our partner countries around the world.

Thank you.