FECL 29 (November 1994):

RWANDESE WAR CRIMINAL IN SWITZERLAND: SENIOR IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL DISMISSED

 

In the Rwandese civil war, the radio station Milles Collines played a central role in instigating the well-planned operation of genocide resulting in the death of an estimated 1 million Tutsi people.

Nevertheless, Félicien Kabuga, the main shareholder and founder of the station found temporary refuge in Switzerland. The head of the Swiss Federal Foreigners Office, Alexandre Hunziker has now been pensioned off.

The whole story began, when Kabuga's sister who is married with a Hutu secret service man, then a senior diplomat of the Rwandese embassy in Berne, personally approached Mr. Hunziker, a "personal acquaintance" of her husband, with an entry visa request on behalf of Félicien Kabuga.

At that time, Kabuga was hunted as a war criminal in a number of countries and his name appeared on a list of undesirable persons of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

The head of the Federal Foreigners Office, however, did not bother about repeated and pressing interventions of the foreign department and on 22 July, Kabuga entered Switzerland with a valid visa.

The Kabuga case soon became a scandal, drawing international protests and strong calls for the arrest of the war criminal.

Yet, Mr. Hunziker did not drop his "personal acquaintance". Instead of being arrested (as suggested, among others, by the Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs), Félicien Kabuga was merely ordered out of the country. On 18 August, he discreetly left Switzerland - as a free man.

Bowing to mounting public protest, the government finally ordered an administrative investigation against Mr. Hunziker.

On November 9, the judge charged with the investigation presented his findings. According to the Minister of Justice and Police, Alexandre Hunziker has committed "irregularities and mistakes", but no violation of penal law or morality. The report is, however not available to the public.

Officially, the Director of the Immigration Board, aged 57, is going into "early retirement" for "health reasons". In practice, however, nobody questions that Mr. Hunziker's hasty departure amounts to summary dismissal.

 

Sources: Journal de Genève, 24.8.94; Le Nouveau Quotidien, 10.11.94.

 

Comment

The Director of the Federal Foreigners Office, Alexandre Hunziker, has patronised one of the prime organisers of the maybe most monstrous massacres of our time. He made possible his flight to Switzerland and, subsequently, his flight from justice.

Who is Mr. Alexandre Hunziker? Did he love "coloured people" and the "Third World" so much that he would protect even a Rwandese criminal against humanity?

Another fact speaks against such an explanation. Indeed, in 1985, Mr. Hunziker explained his thesis, that the integration of asylum seekers from the "Third world" was impossible, as follows: "These people don't have our colour, do not profess our traditional religions, do not abide to our habits and customs".

The Federal Office of Foreigners has created the concepts of "neighbouring countries" and "remote countries" (in 1964), as well as the ill-famed "three circles model" [with Third world countries forming the "outer-circle" subjected to the most restrictive application of foreigner law] (in 1991). This resulted in a discriminatory hierarchy of the "elastic" asylum and immigration laws, implemented by a ruthless bureaucracy. No massacres, no mass graves. Only an autocratic No. No to temporary residence, no to work permits, no to asylum applications, and, sometimes, no to the right to life...

The Federal Foreigners Office is attached to the Justice and Police Ministry. For years, Mr. Hunziker played a crucial role in turning Swiss immigration policies into a matter of mere policing. He was a merciless administrator with his own interpretation of the law. His principle victims were thousands of needy "guest workers" and war refugees, guilty of having neither a secret bank account nor diplomatic acquaintances in the founding country of the Red Cross.

In spite of apparent incoherence, there is a strange continuity in the action of bureaucrats of Mr. Hunziker's sort: applied philosophy of the relations between human beings and societies.

Should the advance of an absurd philosophy that tramples underfoot all equity and justice not be enough to wake us up? Or have we lost our memories of the past?

 

Marie-claire Caloz-Tschopp