Rwanda: A dead American officer used to discredit Human Rights Watch

By Christophe Sangano

Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch

Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch

Who has interest in tarnishing the image and the work of Human Rights Watch in Rwanda? Who would go the extra mile in creating a fake 55-page report to discredit one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights?

A fake report with an already dead author! 

A newly opened blog on the internet with the name of The Travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda published a report about the Human Rights Watch on Rwanda. The report is titled The Travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda. The author of the report is said to be Richard G. Johnson. 

In Summary, the report shows how “HRW’s discourse on Rwanda over the past twenty years has been viscerally hostile to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which defeated the genocidal Hutu Power regime in 1994, and systematically biased in favor of letting unrepentant Hutu Power political forces back into Rwandan political life…” 

Before the reader takes a deeper look into the report, one will notice that the blog is named after the report itself. The blog was open in March 2013 and has no posts, no other pages  except one page dated March 18, 2013 which contains the entire report dated March 19, 2013 and a link to download the report. In other words, the report was out on the internet (the 18th) before its own publication date (the 19th). 

The Author of the report, who is also the owner of the blog is said to be ”Richard G Johnson”. Everyone will be surprised to know that the real Richard G. Johnson died in 2011 aged 90. In fact, according to Washington Post, Richard G. Johnson, 90, a retired political officer with the U.S. Foreign Service who specialized in Eastern European affairs, died on 19th November 2011 in his home in Potomac, Maryland, United States.

The problem is: the author died two years before the existence of the report and the blog belonging to him was also created by him two years after his own death. However, the same blog states that “he can be reached at”.

Are we talking about the same person? Yes. The author’s profile on Blogger is of Richard Johnson who “served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State from 1979 to 2002, specializing in Russian, East European and North African affairs…”

No international publisher, journal, newspaper or blog posted this report but to raise awareness of that report, only Rwanda-based media wrote articles mentioning it:

On 21st March 2013, two days after the report publication , News of Rwanda newspaper wrote “A retired American diplomat Richard Johnson has rapped Washington-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) and said that what it does on Rwanda is not human rights advocacy, but rather political advocacy. 

In a well articulated document he called ‘The Travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda’; Johnson said that HWR has become profoundly unscrupulous in both its means and its ends.

On the 19 April 2013, The New Times referred to the report: “Last month, Richard Johnson, a retired American diplomat wrote a lengthy document; ‘The travesty of Human Rights Watch on Rwanda’ in which he says that HRW’s discourse on Rwanda is a threat to peace and stability in the region.” 

A Ugandan newspaper The Independent published extracts from the report this way:  “I’m a retired American diplomat. My professional experience includes the genocide in Bosnia, and my personal experience includes living in Rwanda in 2008-2010 as the spouse of another U.S. diplomat. My purpose here is not to defend the Rwandan government, which is accountable first and foremost to its own people as well as to a variety of outside institutions. My purpose is to expose and perhaps alter the conduct of HRW”

You do not need to have been in FBI training school to be able to identity without error who is the ”really author of the report’

The most important point to retain here is the damage the report might be doing, in different courts, when HRW reports used by defense teams are being discredited using this pseudo report by a fake American experts. What does the late Richard G. Johnson’s family think of all of this? Are they aware that his career and reputation are being used in these dirty tactics?

Source: The ProxyLake  


One response to “Rwanda: A dead American officer used to discredit Human Rights Watch

  1. Pretty sure the report was written by Johnson Jr. He is still alive.


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