Australia’s secret deal to house Rwandan killers exposed
Scott Morrison won't confirm whether two Rwandan men accused of butchering a group of tourists in the 1990s have been settled in Australia as part of a refugee swap deal with the US.
According to Politico, the men - Leonidas Bimenyimana and Gregoire Nyaminani- reportedly spent years caught up in US immigration detention after failed efforts to convict them in relation to the massacre. It's alleged the men were involved with a rebel group responsible for the brutal murders of eight western tourists in Uganda in 1999.
It's claimed the men arrived in Australia in November, much to the outrage of attack victims and their families.
The move from the US was part of the refugee swap negotiated by Malcolm Turnbull and the Obama administration.
US President Donald Trump expressed strong opposition to the swap deal when Mr Turnbull spoke with him about it at a later stage but he was convinced to stick with it.
Australia's Home Affairs Department has not commented on the claims.
The ABC reports immigration sources confirmed the men had been settled in Australia.
Scott Morrison was asked about the men as he spoke during National Press Club today.
He refused to comment specifically on the matter but he assured "every single person that comes to Australia, under any such arrangements, are subject of both character and security assessments by Australian security agencies and our immigration authorities."
"I don't intend to make a commentary on allegations that have been made in open source information. But simply to assure Australians that they are the processes that we undertake and these are the same security agencies that have thwarted 15 terrorist attacks."
"Matters of national security aren't things that I have ever canvassed in specifics in open forums such as this. Allegations, I know, have been made out there in the public forum. But what I can assure Australians of is this - our government will always ensure that those character and national security considerations are undertaken for anyone who seeks to enter this country."
The prime minister was also pressed to answer if the men were living in detention or in the community.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson responded to the claims saying the "govermment should hang its head in shame".
BRUTAL TOURIST MASSACRE
The men are accused of being part of a rebel ambush of eight tourists who were trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda. The tourist group were on the look out for rare mountain gorillas.
The March 1999 attack saw an American couple, four Britons and two New Zealanders either hacked or bludgeoned to death by the rebels who were members of the Hutu Army for the Liberation of Rwanda.
Four Ugandan park employees were also killed at the campsites.
No Australians were killed in the attack, however Ugandan officials told media at the time that one Australian was among those held hostage as well as Swiss and Canadian tourists.
A New York Times report from back then claims the attackers were armed with automatic rifles, machetes and spears.
The horrific attack was said to be an act of revenge on America and Britain.
Survivors in the aftermath claimed the rebels had deliberately singled out British and American tourists to kill. Other nationalities including French were set-free.
Six tourists survived the ordeal.
As part of the deal struck in 2016 between Australia and the US, Washington agreed to take up to 1250 refugees - mostly from Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan - who were being held in Australian-run offshore detention. Australia had agreed to resettled Central American refugees from camps in Costa Rica. Both these deals were made public.
But Politico claims a secret deal was also made between the two countries which saw Australia agree to take in at least two of three Rwandans who were in the US to face trial over the American tourist murders.
It's reported the three men confessed to the murders but the case fell apart.
This left all three men in a state of legal limbo, without provisions to stay in the US but they were fighting not to be returned to their home country citing fears of persecution.
It's claimed Australia accepted two of the men as humanitarian migrants as a favour to the US.
An American safari leader who was taken hostage during the attack told Politico it was 'just insane' that this deal had been made at all. The decision is likely to anger New Zealand and Britain.
At the time of the murders, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the crime an "act of wickedness simply beyond belief."
He vowed to do "everything in Britain's power to pursue justice".
In March this year the family of one of the Kiwi victims gathered in Auckland to mark 20 years since the murders.