In the case that started on Monday, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants Rights South Africa (CoRMSA) are challenging the June 2010 decision of the South African immigration authorities to grant Nyamwasa refugee status.
“(The decision) was made despite the existence of substantial and credible allegations linking him (Nyamwasa) to war crimes and crimes against humanity in both Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo,” reads part of a statement issued October 29 by the two rights groups.
“South African and international law explicitly prohibit granting refugee status to people when there is reason to believe that they have been involved in the commission of international crimes,” an official with the CoRMSA, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh is quoted in the statement as saying.
Nyamwasa fled to South Africa in February 2010 after falling out with Kigali. He was granted refugee status just days after he was shot and wounded outside his Johannesburg home. Three Rwandans and three Tanzanians are on trial in South Africa accused of trying to kill him.
Nyamwasa is wanted by France in connection with the shooting down of the presidential plane that sparked the Rwandan genocide, while Spanish authorities want him for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC, including the murder of 2,500 Hutu refugees. Rwanda also wants him to serve a sentence of 24 years in jail following his conviction in absentia in 2011, for alleged terrorist activities. The South African government has refused to extradite Nyamwasa to Rwanda on grounds that he may face persecution.