U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers on Oct. 6 removed a Rwandan national wanted for genocide in his home country. Oswald Rukemuye, 58, was removed via ICE Air Operations and turned over to law enforcement authorities in Rwanda to face justice for his crimes. On Nov. 3, 2007, Rukemuye was convicted of genocide in absentia in a local Rwandan gacaca court. On Sept. 18, 2008, the Government of Rwanda issued an indictment and arrest warrant for him, charging him with genocide, murder, extermination, leadership, and participation in a criminal gang.
Rukemuye is a citizen of Rwanda who was admitted to the U.S. in 1996. Evidence indicating that Rukemuye obscured his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide led ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cincinnati to open an investigation. Non-governmental organizations also identified Rukemuye as the head of the National Republican Movement for Development (MRND) in the Gisozi sector, where he issued orders to murder Hutu politicians and men, women, and children identified as being from the Tutsi ethnic group. Special agents traveled to Rwanda and interviewed more than a dozen individuals who identified Rukemuye as a leader in the local group that carried out much of the genocide, including directing the murder of Tutsis at the St. Famille church where thousands of people were killed. The investigation was supported by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.
Following a lengthy investigation, HSI Cincinnati special agents served Rukemuye with a notice to appear in June 2019, initiating removal proceedings against him. The Detroit Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Cleveland) litigated the removal case with support from the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. Witnesses who testified on behalf of the government included a government investigator, a forensic interviewer from HSI’s Victim Assistance Program, and an expert on the Rwandan genocide and the local Rwandan gacaca courts.
On May 27,2020, an Immigration Judge denied Rukemuye all immigration relief and ordered him removed to Rwanda. On July 21,2021, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision dismissing his appeal and paving the way for his removal.
Established in 2009, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center furthers ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
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, ICE 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.
ICE offers several ways to request assistance:
- DHS Tip Line: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423) or www.ice.gov/tips to anonymously provide tips about individuals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes.
- Victims Engagement and Services Line (VESL): 1-833-383-1465 or https://www.ice.gov/vesl to access victim assistance services.