WASHINGTON, DC (May 29, 2010) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) strongly condemns the arrest of American law professor Peter Erlinder in Kingali, Rwanda, yesterday. NACDL urges the Rwandan government and the U.S. Department of State to quickly resolve this mistake and free Prof. Erlinder.
Prof. Erlinder represents presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who was herself detained and released by Rwandan police last week. Erlinder was arrested on a charge of “genocide ideology,” or genocide denial, a speech crime that has been condemned by humanitarian organizations as repressive.
NACDL condemns Erlinder’s arrest in the strongest possible terms. Government intimidation and interference with the defense function is unacceptable in all its forms and wherever it takes place. The arrest of a defense lawyer by the Rwandan government subverts orderly reconciliation and undermines the mission of the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda, which has been making fundamental contributions to international peace and justice in one of the most troubled regions of the African continent.
Peter Erlinder is a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a Law Professor Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
NACDL is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL’s 10,000-plus direct members in 28 countries — and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations with another 35,000 members — include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness within the criminal justice system around the world.
Director, Public Affairs & Communications
National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)