Sentenced to 10 years for concealing her personal participation in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
CONCORD, N.H. - A Manchester, N.H. woman was sentenced today by a federal judge in New Hampshire for two counts of procuring citizenship unlawfully. This is the first such conviction in the nation based on concealing one’s personal participation in Rwandan genocide.
District Court Judge Stephen J. McAuliffe sentenced Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, to 10 years in prison, the maximum sentence for the charge of procuring citizenship unlawfully. She also faces removal proceedings after serving the sentence imposed by the court. Judge McAuliffe also stripped Munyenyezi of her U.S. citizenship on the day of her conviction.
Munyenyezi was charged in June 2010 and later convicted in March 2012, by a federal jury in N.H. who found that she had obtained her U.S. citizenship unlawfully, after fleeing her home country of Rwanda, by misrepresenting material facts to U.S. Immigration authorities.
Judge McAuliffe stated in court, “She has stolen the highly prized status of U.S. citizenship,” and “The defendant was not a mere spectator; the defendant personally participated in the killing of men, women and children, merely because they were called Tutsi.” He also stated, “This is the most egregious violation of [the statute] that one can imagine.”
Testimony during the 12-day trial revealed that Munyenyezi concealed her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, including her involvement in the MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development), the political party in power before and during the genocide, and its youth wing, the Interahamwe. The Interahamwe ran a militia that played a key role in the genocide. Evidence at trial demonstrated that Munyenyezi, as a member of the Interahamwe, participated in and aided and abetted persecution and murder of Tutsi people during the 1994 genocide. Several witnesses testified to Munyenyezi’s staffing of a notorious roadblock outside of her home during the course of the genocide, where she checked identification of passers-by and decided who would be allowed to pass, and who would be detained pending their almost certain death. The evidence demonstrated that Munyenyezi misrepresented these facts in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits, and was ineligible to become a citizen because her participation in genocide and murder precluded her from U.S. citizenship.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Today’s sentence should send a clear message to those involved in human rights violations that the United States will not protect those who take advantage of our accepting borders. I want to thank the tireless efforts of the prosecution team and investigators in this case, who have worked doggedly to ensure that justice is served.”
“Today’s sentencing clearly demonstrates that this nation will never be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Boston. “After a stellar collaborative investigation and prosecution by HSI special agents and our partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, Munyenyezi will be held accountable for disguising her role as a participant in the Rwandan genocide. I am hopeful that this case will send a message to others like Munyenyezi: HSI will never allow our country to be a place where individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts can hide or evade detection.”
Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case with the assistance of the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aloke Chakravarty and John Capin from Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism Unit in the District of Massachusetts.