Rwanda deports Belgian lawyer, bars him from future entry into the country.

A Belgian lawyer known as Vincent Lurquin who claimed to be representing Paul Rusesabagina who was earlier arrested and hauled before court to face charges on terrorism has been deported and further barred from future entry into Rwanda. 

The supposed lawyer claimed there was a foul play in his deportation. He told reporters that, “they (Rwandan authorities) refuse to let me see my client, I went to see the President of the Bar who did not want to see me, I went to see the Attorney General who did not want to see me, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice”

However, the Rwanda’s Immigration authorities explained that, Lurquin was sent back to Belgium for breaching immigration laws of the country. According to the law, a foreigner who enters the country with a mere visitation visa is not entitled to engage in any formal work activities; Lurquin who reportedly entered the country with a visitor’s visa was seen making attempts to work, an action the authorities saw as a blatant disregard for the law.

The Director General of the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE), Lt. Col. Regis Gatarayiha said “the visa he was accorded is a V1 type of visa, which allows the bearer to visit the country but not to conduct any remunerated work or any payment. We were surprised to see that he appeared in court, in one of the proceedings of the court, in an attire that shows that he was really practicing as an advocate, which he was not allowed to do,” Gatarayiha said 

Consequently, Lurquin was not only deported but further declared a “Prohibited Immigrant,” a status which prevents him from ever travelling to Rwanda. His deportation sparked series of conversations. Some political thinkers raised the point that, as a lawyer, Lurquin should have known better and applied for the right visa.

Other political commentators view his approach as a populist strategy to make the government unpopular because of how popular the case is. The case of Paul Rusesabagina, the 67-year-old “Hotel Rwanda” hero is one of the most watched cases across the world.

Paul Rusesabagina has been accused of supports for a rebel group called the National Liberation Front (FLN) which killed nine people in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019 and injured others. The country’s Judiciary has set September 20th to deliver final judgement on the case.

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