The #Hege Treatment (Part II of III)

2

October 12, 2012 by soniauwimana

Paul Butler is one of the top lawyers in DC and one of America’s uppermost national security experts. As a matter of fact, he retains to this day Top Secret security clearance.  Before working as a special advisor for former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he was a Deputy Attorney in New York where he worked as a prosecutor on United States versus Osama Bin Laden relating to the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Government of Rwanda has asked him to investigate whether there are any legal grounds that support their belief that the Group of Experts on the DRC helmed by Steven Hege has engaged in questionable methodology and whether Hege’s bias has unduly infected the work of the group. Butler concludes, in the clearest imaginable terms, that Rwanda has indeed been at the receiving end of shabby treatment at the hands of Hege’s group.

In Butler’s own words:

In his withering nine-page memo on the methodology, Butler delves deeply into the critical question of whether or not Hege’s group adequately adhered to the UN’s own guidelines with respect to consultation and offering member-states adequate right of rebuttal.  Rwanda has long believed that Hege was grossly negligent on this front, and Butler clearly agrees.

30 minutes?

As Hege prepared to make the most serious kind of allegations against Rwanda — that it was essentially invading another country — he gave Rwandan officials 30 minutes of his time, but without even laying out the details.  This is adequate consultation in line with the UN’s own rules?  As Butler points out, clearly not.

When it comes to “subsequent reports”, Butler lays out clearly that Hege continues to deny Rwanda any serious right of reply or even the most basic level of procedural fairness:

It is impossible to come to any conclusion except that reached by Butler himself:  Hege blatantly and repeatedly ignored the guidelines applicable to his Group of Experts in his treatment of Rwanda.

Butler then moves on to the question of witness reliability.  This is an something Rwandans get angry about because we notice how these reports almost exclusively rely on testimony of unnamed sources, mainly from the DRC, who have a clear motive — political or self-preservation — to say whatever suits the agenda at hand (in this case, pin blame on Rwanda). We read these accounts, look at each other, shake our heads, and think “why on earth does anyone take this testimony seriously”. 

Butler puts it in much more elegant terms here:

As critics of the GoE have been saying one way or another since the addendum first dropped, Butler says:

…the lack of transparency, the reliance on questionable sources and the complete lack of analysis of witness bias, motivation, or contradictory evidence in the conclusions reached in the addenda render those conclusions highly unreliable.

Ears, meet music.

If the accounts of FARDC officers, military intelligence, captured rebels, so-called defectors, were used as supporting evidence alongside serious, material, empirically-based evidence that Rwanda is supporting M23, maybe it could serve a useful secondary purpose.  But the problem with Hege’s report is that it’s the only category of evidence he has.  There is nothing else.  There are no guns at all, let alone any of the smoking variety. What’s left is hot air.

Butler’s conclusion is astute and compelling.  He contrasts the 2012 GoE report with its immediate predecessor and finds it wanting.

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