International Criminal Law and Border Control: The Expressive Role of the Deportation and Extradition of Rwandan Citizens

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International criminal law and international refugee law have widely been considered to be mutually re-enforcing. However, this assumed compatibility fails to take sufficient account of how responses to allegations of involvement in an international crime are often embedded within domestic immigration laws and serve multiple expressive functions. To examine these domestic entanglements, this paper draws on an independently generated dataset of 120 cases concerning 100 Rwandan nationals decided in 20 countries around the world. This dataset enables an analysis of the role that international criminal law is playing in their extradition, deportation or domestic prosecution. It argues that the differences in legal reasoning across these cases are underpinned by the different types of expressive work done by these legal proceeding. These cases communicate not only an on-going commitment to recognising the universal wrong of genocide, but also more ambiguous messaging about what constitutes a fair trial in Rwanda, who constitutes a ‘criminal migrant’ and, to a Rwandan audience, the transnational penal reach of the Rwandan state.