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April 16, 2021New Orleans, LA, United StatesHuman Rights Violators, Enforcement and Removal

ICE removes Rwandan citizen for human rights violations

NEW ORLEANS - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) New Orleans officers removed a 51-year-old Rwandan national and turned her over to law enforcement authorities in Rwanda on Friday.

Beatrice Munyenyezi was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for procuring her naturalization based on false statements to immigration officers about her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Munyenyezi participated, aided, and abetted in the persecution and murder of Tutsi people. Her conviction was the first in the United States for concealing one’s personal participation in the Rwandan genocide.

Munyenyezi was a member of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the political party in power during the genocide and its youth wing, the Interahamwe. The Interahamwe ran a militia that played a key role in the genocide. Witnesses testified that Munyenyezi staffed a roadblock near the Hotel Ihuriro in Butare, Rwanda, where she personally inspected IDs and decided who would pass and who would be selected for inevitable death. Some victims were assaulted at the roadblock; others were led to a nearby forest where they were killed.

On March 10, 1998, Munyenyezi entered the United States after making false statements to obtain status; she adjusted her status to lawful permanent resident on January 19, 2001, and on July 18, 2003, became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston field office spent over six years investigating Munyenyezi, traveling to Rwanda nine times to identify and interview witnesses. In 2010, HSI Boston special agents arrested Munyenyezi for unlawful procurement of U.S. citizenship.

“Beatrice Munyenyezi concealed her past to wrongly obtain United States citizenship, obscuring her direct participation in the Rwandan Genocide — an atrocity of immense scale which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” said William S. Walker, acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston field office. “Homeland Security Investigations special agents work tirelessly to investigate and seek prosecution for those who commit human rights violations and seek a safe haven here in the United States.”

On February 21, 2013, Munyenyezi was found guilty of two counts of Unlawful Procurement of Citizenship or Naturalization in the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, based on false statements on her immigration forms about her membership in the MRND and the Interahamwe. On July 15, 2013, the court sentenced Munyenyezi to 10 years in federal prison. Munyenyezi filed several appeals of her conviction including a petition for review and a petition for writ of habeas corpus. On March 3, 2021, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of her motion to vacate her conviction.

While serving her federal sentence, ICE initiated removal proceedings against Munyenyezi. On March 16, 2020, an immigration judge ordered Munyenyezi removed from the United States to Rwanda and on January 27, 2021 the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed her appeal of the immigration judge’s order.

“This removal sends a clear message that the United States will not be a hiding place for those who commit heinous human rights violations,” said Caridad Cephas-Kimbrough, acting field office director for ERO New Orleans. “The tireless dedication our enforcement and removal officers and HSI partners put into this case is a testament to their commitment to enforce our nation’s immigration laws and ensure human rights violators like Munyenyezi are held to those laws.”

The criminal prosecution and subsequent appeals were litigated by attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston and New Hampshire with support from ICE Boston, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor. The removal case was handled by attorneys from ICE New Orleans, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor and Enforcement and Removal Operations. DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation also litigated the case.

The enforcement efforts targeting Munyenyezi were supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE's efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, attorneys, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency's broader enforcement efforts against those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 460 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and/or physically removed from the United States 1,064 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 172 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 155 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,675 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 77,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 333 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.

ICE continues to implement interim civil immigration enforcement priorities directed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus its limited resources on threats to national security, border security, and public safety. ICE carries out its duty to enforce the laws of the United States in accordance with the Department’s national security and public safety mission.