Tanzania: Action brought against documentary on Tutsi genocide

Regulation & Policy

hree Rwandan citizens living in France have brought an action before a tribunal in Paris to request the right to watch a documentary on the 1994 genocide before its broadcast on a French TV channel. Named "Genocide in Rwanda: killers among us?" the film is expected to be broadcast by France 2 on June 28, 2011.

During a long hearing before the lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris - TGI) presided by Judge Emmanuel Binoche, lawyer Philippe Meilhac for Agathe Habyarimana claimed that "there had been no serious investigation."

Marcel Bivugabagabo's lawyer Ludovic Rivière added: "My client was given a copy of the interview he gave to the film director Manolo d'Arthuys; I was shocked by the way it was done. When my client said he could not defend himself because he has not been accused of anything yet, the interviewer answered, so if this is the problem let me be your accuser!"

"It's a show and it's going to be broadcast on the French public service", he concluded.

According to Richard Malka, the lawyer representing the movie producing company Tony Comiti, the plaintiffs try to use the principle of their "presumption of innocence" to prevent an investigation. "They are not asking us to respect presumption of innocence, they are asking for impunity", he claimed.

He explained that the rule was that the producer could be convicted of defamation after the broadcast of the documentary but that no control was to be done before. He also said that a 15 seconds announcement would be made at the beginning of the film to remind the audience that the three suspects were presumably not guilty.

One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Florence Bourg, told Hirondelle News agency after the hearing that the chance for the three Rwandans to watch the movie before its broadcast was very low, considering the French legal precedents on the matter: "At least, we obtained that an announcement would be made at the beginning of the movie".