Catholic church was accused of being close to Hutu-led government in 1994 when 800,000 mostly Tutsis were killed.
French government and military officials were involved in supplying weapons to the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and obstructing attempts to bring them to justice, a new report alleges.
The Muse Report, written by US law firm Cunningham Levy Muse, was commissioned by the Rwandan government as part of an investigation into the role of French officials in the genocide that killed more than 800,000 people.
The report, published on Tuesday, examined information already publicly available including witness testimonies. It alleges French officials provided sanctuary to genocide suspects and allowed those responsible to meet at the French embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where they began to form the interim government that ruled the country during the mass killings.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the report revealed a “damning summary of conduct by French officials in Rwanda during the 1990s and thereafter”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe – Rwandan minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – said the report showed France’s long-term involvement with the “genocidal forces”.
“We have information, mostly from France, which shows how the government of France and French officials were involved before, during, and after the genocide in support of the government that committed genocide,” he said.
The report has been passed to the French government in an attempt to persuade it to declassify all evidence related to the mass murder.
Political analyst Gatete Nyiringabo told Al Jazeera that doing so is crucial.
“[French officials] claim they have nothing to hide, that there is no wrongdoing – the evidence is pointing to the opposite. The only way to find out is to have all the evidence that is classified declassified,” Nyiringabo said.
A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said on Wednesday that France was committed to prosecuting those involved in the genocide, calling it “one of the worst atrocities of our time”.
The Rwandan government has accepted the report’s recommendation to launch a full investigation into the role of French officials.
Mushikiwabo said Rwanda is seeking “better collaboration with French authorities in the pursuit of truth, justice and accountability”.
The report also criticised a 1998 inquiry by a French parliamentary commission, which found no evidence of collaboration in the genocide, as not being fully transparent.
While welcoming its call for clarity, Human Rights Watch has criticised the Muse Report for failing to examine the role of the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front, the party of current President Paul Kagame, which took power after the genocide.
Relations between Rwanda and France have been strained since the genocide.
Last year, Rwanda published a list of 22 senior French military officers accused of helping to plan and carry out the killings.
Prior to this, France reopened an investigation into the plane crash that killed Rwanda’s then-president Juvenal Habyarimana. The crash triggered the violence as fighters from the Hutu majority blamed minority Tutsis for Habyarimana’s death.
“What we want now as a government for our people and for France itself is truth and accountability for those who committed genocide in Rwanda,” said Nduhungirehe.