U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents recently confirmed the departure of a Rwandan man suspected of human rights abuses in his home country, who had been residing in Buffalo, New York. Peter Kalimu, aka Pierre Kalimu, aka Fidele Twizere, was denaturalized and ordered removed from the U.S. following charges alleging his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He departed the U.S., Oct. 21.
“HSI special agents will not cease in our pursuit of identifying and bringing to justice those individuals who have participated in unthinkable war crimes and human rights abuses,” said Executive Associate Director Steve Francis of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “In coordination with the HSI-led HRVWCC, D.C., our special agents and prosecutors continue to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable and denied safe haven in the United States.”
The case was investigated by HSI Buffalo and the HSI-led Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Valuable consultation and support were provided by ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Human Rights Law Division and the Buffalo Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
According to court documents Kalimu was living in Rwanda in 1994, when violent conflict erupted between the country’s two major ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. During the conflict, often referred to as the Rwandan genocide, members of the majority Hutu population persecuted the minority Tutsis, committing mass murder and looting their property, among other crimes. An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the three-month genocide. The complaint against Kalimu alleged that he participated in two attacks on Tutsi families in his neighborhood during the genocide, and that he looted property from Tutsi families whose houses he then destroyed. Kalimu denied these allegations.
According to the civil denaturalization complaint, while living in Rwanda, Kalimu went by the name Fidèle Twizere. After he left Rwanda, he used a different name – Pierre Kalimu – and provided only that name, and a new date of birth, on his U.S. immigration forms. Throughout the process of applying for permanent residence and U.S. citizenship, Kalimu never disclosed to the U.S. government his previous identity as Fidèle Twizere or his prior use of a different date of birth. The complaint further alleged that Kalimu’s misrepresentations about his identity precluded U.S. government officials from investigating him and determining that he was not qualified to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits.
Kalimu admitted that he was ineligible for citizenship because he engaged in welfare fraud in New York State in 2003-2004, one of the allegations in the civil denaturalization complaint, and agreed to denaturalization. The Department of Justice obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, effective Sept. 1, 2021, revoking Kalimu’s naturalized U.S. citizenship by consent, and the court entered judgment in favor of the United States on Sept. 30, 2021.
In a separate prosecution, in 2018, Kalimu pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, one felony count of making materially false statements about his true name to federal investigators of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On Oct. 12, a U.S. immigration judge in Buffalo, ordered Kalimu’s removal for making materially false statements to procure immigration and naturalization benefits. Kalimu agreed to the entry of the order against him. The case was handled by the Buffalo Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
“In seeking to escape his past in Rwanda, Kalimu obscured his true identity and repeatedly lied to immigration officers in order to become a U.S. citizen,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
This matter was litigated by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) Enforcement Section; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 468 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and/or physically removed from the United States 1,070 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 174 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 170 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 77,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 340 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423) or its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips. Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.