Rwanda: Renewed Call For UK To Extradite Five Genocidaires

By James Karuhanga

The Government, survivors and Aegis Trust – a British NGO that campaigns to prevent genocide worldwide – have renewed the call pressing for the extradition from the United Kingdom of five Rwandans suspected of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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After an eight-day High Court appeal hearing in London concluded last month, it remains unclear when exactly the ruling will be heard but the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, maintains that there is no basis at all for the suspects to remain in the European country.

The Government, survivors and Aegis Trust – a British NGO that campaigns to prevent genocide worldwide – have renewed the call pressing for the extradition from the United Kingdom of five Rwandans suspected of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

After an eight-day High Court appeal hearing in London concluded last month, it remains unclear when exactly the ruling will be heard but the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, maintains that there is no basis at all for the suspects to remain in the European country.

Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, Busingye reiterated that in the eyes of ordinary Rwandans, Genocide survivors in particular, or Rwanda’s justice watchers, the UK justice system will go down in history either as knowingly providing a safe haven for Genocide masterminds or bringing them to trial.

“Secondly, the debate about ‘fair trial in Rwanda’ that has dominated UK courts for all the years is the same lame defence that was advanced by Genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in the US, Norway, Canada, Netherlands and others before, and will continue being advanced,” Busingye added.

“The plain motive for it is to escape justice. The difference is how courts fall for or against it. Many countries have sought and obtained verification, and proceeded to extradite or transfer suspects to Rwanda. Their proceedings monitored or not, meet the required fair trial standards.”

Late last year, the High Court in London commenced an appeal hearing in the case concerning extradition of Vincent Bajinya, a medical doctor; Celestin Mutabaruka, a former pastor; and three former mayors – Celestin Ugirashebuja, Charles Munyaneza, and Emmanuel Nteziryayo.

The recent appeal hearing was to decide whether to uphold an earlier judgement that the accused would not receive a fair trial if extradited to Rwanda.

All five suspects were separately arrested in 2013 in the UK after an extradition request from Kigali.

In 2015, the Westminster Magistrate’s Court rejected Rwanda’s appeal to extradite the suspects, saying there was a risk they would not get a fair trial in Rwanda. Following the ruling, Kigali appealed to the high court in London.

Rwanda maintains its courts and justice system have over the years undergone extensive reforms and grown to become competent enough to provide fair trials.

Among others, ICTR billed the Rwandan judicial system competent and transferred several suspects to Rwanda.

No insurmountable barriers

The European Court of Human and People’s Rights (ECtHR), a human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France, has in the past also rejected appeals by suspects who fought extradition to Rwanda. And, countries, including the US, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and Canada returned Genocide suspects to Rwanda to face trial.

Busingye said: “The intent to bring genocide suspects to trial should, in our view, override any other considerations. There should be no insurmountable barriers to this end.”

The five men allegedly participated in the planning and implementation of massacres in which tens of thousands of people were murdered during the Genocide.

The chilling details of their alleged crimes include unsuspecting Tutsi civilians being tricked out of hiding so they could be killed and the personal supervision of Interahamwe militia groups who slaughtered children, women and men.

In an interview, Freddy Mutanguha, a Genocide survivor who is also the Aegis Trust’s regional director for East Africa, said he expects a “positive decision” where the five are eventually extradited to Rwanda for trial.

Mutanguha said: “What I expect is a positive decision where suspects who committed Genocide are extradited. Rwanda has proven it is competent enough to try these cases. Democratic countries such as Denmark, Norway, and others, have expressed confidence in Rwanda.

“And, secondly, there is no doubt whatsoever that all these five committed Genocide. The evidence gathered shows that they are culpable. It is also very important, for us survivors, that they are tried in the place where they committed the crimes.”

Source: allafrica.com

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