Stunned by the tragic stories of genocide survivors, President Clinton said today the world did not act quickly enough when the horrors of the 1994 massacre in Rwanda emerged.
"Never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence," Clinton vowed.
He recounted the 90 days of bloodletting that began in April 1994 as families were murdered in their homes, people hunted like animals, young and old, women and children, slaughtered in the sanctuary of churches and hospitals.
"All over the world there were people like me sitting in offices who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror," Clinton told the audience of several hundred assembled at the airport here.
The Clinton administration has said the international community failed to stop the Hutu extremists from killing up to 1 million minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates. It was the worst genocide since the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in World War II.
In a stop today in Entebbe, Uganda, Clinton signed a commitment with seven African leaders to deepen respect for human rights as the "birthright of all men and women."
"The leaders who have come to Entebbe today share a common vision of a bright future for this region," Clinton said at the Summit for Peace and Properity.
Clinton said the leaders agreed to work to banish genocide from the continent and bring murderers to justice.
Clinton on Tuesday offered a broad expression of contrition for what he called his country's shameful legacy in Africa, including America's role in the slave trade and its more recent support for repressive anti-communist dictators during the Cold War.
Clinton told a crowd in Mukono, a village 20 miles outside the Ugandan capital of Kampala, that Americans should recognize and repent for the reality that "the United States has not always done the right thing by Africa."
"Going back to the time before we were even a nation, European-Americans received the fruits of the slave trade," Clinton said. "And we were wrong in that."