The Law Society of Upper Canada recognizes that Rwanda is a society that was devastated by the genocide that occurred in 1994. Since the genocide, Rwanda has made significant progress in achieving stability and security, bolstering its political institutions and enhancing its economic growth and development. The Law Society of Upper Canada applauds Rwanda for its success in healing, rebuilding and recovery.

 As Rwanda continues to strengthen its democracy and adherence to the rule of law, it should be recognized that the work of local, as well as, international lawyers plays a paramount role in that process. It is in that context that the Law Society of Upper Canada is appealing to the Rwandan Government to grant bail and release American professor and lawyer Peter Erlinder.

 Reports indicated that on May 28, 2010 Professor Erlinder was arrested in Kigali Rwanda and charged with ‘genocide denial’ and ‘genocide minimization’ Professor Erlinder, former lead defence counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was in Kigali to fulfill his professional obligations by representing and defending his client, opposition party member and possible presidential candidate, Ms. Victoire Ingabire.

 In recognizing the important contributions that a lawyer such as Professor Erlinder can make to the continued development of Rwandan society, the Law Society of Upper Canada calls on the Government of Rwanda to,

  1. release Professor Erlinder on bail and guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity;
  2. publicly outline the allegations and charges laid against  Professor Erlinder;
  3. publicly acknowledge the importance and legitimacy of the work of local and international lawyers and their contributions to the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law; 
  4. ensure that all lawyers can carry out their legitimate activities; and  
  5. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with national human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Rwanda.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for some 41, 000 lawyers in the Province of Ontario, Canada and the Treasurer is the head of the Law Society. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

The Law Society urges the legal community to intervene in support of members of the legal profession in Colombia in their effort to advance the respect of human rights and to promote the rule of law and democracy.

 For more information, contact: Josée Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at 416-947-3984 or

On June 3, 2010 the Law Society of Upper Canada intervened by way of letter and public statement in the case of American lawyer and Professor Peter Erlinder in Rwanda. Professor Erlinder was arrested in Kigali Rwanda and charged with ‘genocide denial’ and ‘genocide minimization’. He had arrived in Kigali in May to represent and defend his client and aspiring presidential candidate, Ms. Victoire Ingabire. After being imprisoned for three weeks, he was released and on June 22 returned to the United States.