Rwandan Genocide Suspect Permanently Leaves the United States After Denaturalization
A Rwanda native, most recently residing in Buffalo, New York, has been denaturalized by consent and departed from the United States under an order of removal following the filing of a complaint citing his suspected involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
According to court documents, Peter Kalimu, aka Pierre Kalimu, aka Fidele Twizere, was living in Rwanda in 1994, when violent conflict erupted between the country’s two major ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. During the conflict, often referred to as the Rwandan genocide, members of the majority Hutu population persecuted the minority Tutsis, committing mass murder and looting their property, among other crimes. An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the three-month genocide. The complaint against Kalimu alleged that he participated in two attacks on Tutsi families in his neighborhood during the genocide, and that he looted property from Tutsi families whose houses he then destroyed. Kalimu denied these allegations.
According to the civil denaturalization complaint, while living in Rwanda, Kalimu went by the name Fidèle Twizere. After he left Rwanda, he used a different name – Pierre Kalimu – and provided only that name, and a new date of birth, on his U.S. immigration forms. Throughout the process of applying for permanent residence and U.S. citizenship, Kalimu never disclosed to the U.S. government his previous identity as Fidèle Twizere or his prior use of a different date of birth. The complaint further alleged that Kalimu’s misrepresentations about his identity precluded U.S. government officials from investigating him and determining that he was not qualified to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits.
Kalimu admitted that he was ineligible for citizenship because he engaged in welfare fraud in New York in 2003-2004 – one of the allegations in the civil denaturalization complaint – and agreed to denaturalization. The Justice Department obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, effective Sept. 1, revoking Kalimu’s naturalized U.S. citizenship by consent, and the court entered judgment in favor of the United States on Sept. 30.
In a separate prosecution, in 2018, Kalimu pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, one felony count of making materially false statements about his true name to federal investigators of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On Oct. 12, a U.S. Immigration Judge in Buffalo, ordered Kalimu’s removal for making materially false statements to procure immigration and naturalization benefits. Kalimu agreed to the entry of the order against him. On Oct. 21, Kalimu departed the United States.
“In seeking to escape his past in Rwanda, Kalimu obscured his true identity and repeatedly lied to immigration officers in order to become a U.S. citizen,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the plJustice Department’s Criminal Division.
“The United States will not be a safe haven for suspected human rights violators,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department is dedicated to preventing those who commit human rights violations from evading our immigration laws.”
“Kalimu’s misrepresentations to the U.S. government paved the way for the defendant to avoid discovery of his past transgressions and to establish a life in the United States, which included benefits afforded to all citizens,” stated U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross of the Western District of New York. “Because of the diligent work of the various government agencies involved with this investigation to uncover the truth and make amends for the lies and omissions of the defendant, he was rightly prosecuted, was removed from our country, and can no longer escape his actual past.”
“HSI special agents will not cease in our pursuit of identifying and bringing to justice those individuals who have participated in unthinkable war crimes and human rights abuses,” said Executive Associate Director Steve Francis of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “In coordination with the HSI-led Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center in Washington, D.C., our special agents and prosecutors continue to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable and denied safe haven in the United States.”
This matter was litigated by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) Enforcement Section; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) HSI Buffalo and HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit investigated this matter. Valuable consultation and support were provided by ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Human Rights Law Division and the Buffalo Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
The civil denaturalization case was prosecuted by Senior Counsel Steven Platt of OIL; Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Moar for the Western District of New York; Trial Attorney Susan Masling, and Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy Eli Rosenbaum of HRSP, supported by HRSP Chief Historian Dr. Jeffrey Richter. The removal case was litigated by ICE’s Buffalo Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals or naturalized U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are encouraged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form.