The New Times (Kigali)

6 November 2012

Rwanda: Survivors Want Action On Genocide Fugitives

The survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have urged government to marshal all diplomatic efforts to ensure that Genocide fugitives are brought to book.

Under their umbrella, Ibuka, the survivors said that different countries have deliberately refused to have special provisions in their legislations that have led to hundreds of suspects accused of the Genocide into which a million people died, remain scot-free.

The call came in the wake of a story by the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, which tracked down one genocide suspect, Modeste Kennedy Hakizimana, who has lived in the United Kingdom for the past 13 years and currently works as a taxi driver in London.

"The reluctance by some countries has facilitated the growth of what one can call the international conspiracy, mainly championed by well known (Genocide) deniers, most of them stand accused of the Genocide," said Ibuka president Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu.

He noted that the principle is to have fugitives apprehended and brought to book either in those countries, or extradited to Rwanda to face justice.

Despite the UK authorities being aware of the atrocities Hakizimana stands accused back in Rwanda, the newspaper reported that he was in 2009 granted "discretionary leave to remain" on UK territory due to a precedence set by the country's High Court regarding the fate of four other Rwandan Genocide suspects.

The four fugitives include three former Bourgmestres (Mayors) Charles Munyaneza (Kinyamakara), Celestin Ugirashebuja (Kigoma) and Emmanuel Nteziryayo (Mudasomwa), while the other one is Vincent Bajinya, a medical doctor who was the director of the National Population Service (ONAPO).

They were freed on grounds that they would not receive fair trial once transferred to Rwanda, and could not be tried under the British law because of what activist call loopholes in their legal system.

Reacting to the story, Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga accused UK authorities of acting with indifference when it comes to dealing with Genocide suspects on the European country's soil.

"There is more than the case of Hakizimana or even the four who were set free years ago. There are more suspects. Crown Prosecution (UK) is aware, we have been in touch and we know they have been trying to do something but until when?" said Ngoga in a telephone interview.

The release of the quartet took place a few days after the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had differed cases that had been referred to Rwanda by the tribunal's prosecution, citing concerns over the country's justice system which needed to be fixed.

These have since been fixed and the first suspect was transferred to Rwanda by the tribunal earlier this year, and his trial is ongoing.

"The response by the United Kingdom on this issue is most disappointing...facts are clear, and the court itself has established that there is Prima Facie case against these men but they remain indifferent," Ngoga added.

He alluded to a semblance of double standards, picking on the case involving Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a whistle blowing website, where the British authorities have, for months, struggled to smoke him out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to extradite him to Sweden where he stands accused of rape.

However, when contacted last evening, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda attributed the blowing of the Assange case to the media, saying that Crown Prosecution was doing a lot to ensure that the Genocide fugitives are brought to book, only that this does not receive the media attention like Assange's.

"From the very beginning, the attitude of the British government has been to have these people face justice, these men were arrested, and Crown Prosecution proved that they had a case to answer but our courts are independent, so they ruled that they would not get fair trial at the time," said Llewellyn by telephone.

He said that currently the cases were under review.

"The Department of Home Affairs is working with prosecution to review the extradition request and in light of recent developments, we hope extradition this time will be possible," said the envoy in reference to the recent precedence set at the ICTR, Canada and the European Court of Human and People's Rights, which all gave green light to extradition of different suspects.

He, however, said that even if the courts were to sanction extradition, further discussions would follow, because Rwanda does not have an extradition treaty with the United Kingdom.

Rwanda does not have an extradition treaty with any European or North American country, apart from Switzerland, which, it is said, was acquired during colonial days, at the time Rwanda was a Belgian protectorate.

In case of absence of a treaty, the governments work on a memorandum of understanding which may guide any extradition.

Loophole

The loophole in the British legal system which campaigners have continued to say has made the European country a den for war crimes and genocide suspects stem from the UK International Criminal Court Act 2001 for England and Wales.

This law, which gives British courts the universal jurisdiction to try war crimes committed on other parts of the world, is not retrospective and limit itself to crimes only committed after 2001.

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