Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, says the Zambian government's response to a request by Rwanda to extradite Genocide suspects living in the Southern African nation is "simplistic" as it does not consider the gravity of the crime committed.
He was responding to a story published in Zambian media last Friday, which reported that Rwanda's request to the Zambian Government for extradition of six Genocide suspects cannot go through due to lack of an extradition arrangement between the two countries.
According to The Times of Zambia newspaper, Zambian Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Dr. Effron Lungu, told Parliament that the Extradition Act, Chapter 94 of the Laws of Zambia could only allow extradition of fugitives if there was an agreement on reciprocal basis.
According to the newspaper, Zambian Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister's responses came as he was responding to Zambian MP Vincent Mwale who had inquired about the number of Rwandans resident in Zambia as of August, this year, and how many were wanted in their country as suspects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The Zambian parliament also heard that there were 6,340 Rwandans living in the country.
Ngoga said: "This is a very simplistic response that does not take into account the gravity of the crime these suspects stand accused of. I am not disputing [that] what the Minister says is the requirement under Zambian law but the fact is (that) all efforts we have made to move the procedure forward have not been given due attention."
"The absence of reciprocal agreement is something that can be addressed in a very short time if authorities in Zambia were willing to move forward. Do you remember that a Rwandan national who tried to mingle into their politics was deported in just a week?"
Just over three months ago, Zambia's Home Affairs minister, Edgar Lungu, confirmed the deportation to Rwanda of Father Viateur Banyangandora, 40, a Rwandan, who was reexpatriated after a sermon he gave was perceived to incite people against the government.
Father Banyangandora was deported to Rwanda "in order to safeguard the rule of law and order in the country," Lungu was quoted as saying at the time.
Ngoga further told The New Times that "in any event, based on this response by the Minister to the Parliament, we shall make fresh communication and see if there can be new momentum."
Meanwhile, the Head of the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit (GFTU) on Sunday stressed that lack of an extradition arrangement between Rwanda and Zambia does not mean Genocide suspects hiding out in the South African country should remain free, particularly given the nature of their suspected crime.
John Bosco Siboyintore said: "Basing on universal jurisdiction, they [Zambia] should also try them. We are urging them to ensure that these people face justice even if they cannot extradite them here."