22 December 2012

Rwanda: France Criticized Over Failure to Extradite Genocide Fugitives

Photo: News of Rwanda
Burial for genocide victims (file photo).

THE Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga on Wednesday criticised the decision by the French Appeals Court rejecting the extradition of Hyacinthe Rafiki Nsengiyumva, a former Rwandan minister, and Vénuste Nyombayire, both accused of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

We have to rethink our strategy. The country that supported the Genocide cannot be the one to dispense justice.

Ngoga observed that it was not surprising considering that France backed the Rwanda genocidal regime before 1994.

"There is more than enough evidence that we can't get genocide-related justice from France. The system continues to be influenced by elements that were in complicity with some of these suspects," he told The New Times.

Nsengiyumva was one of the founder members of the Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group responsible for the Genocide, and was part of the interim government in Rwanda in 1994.

Although he has won his battle against extradition, Nsengiyumva still faces possible prosecution over his role at the height of the killings.

However, Ngoga said, "I don't even believe prosecution of suspects would deliver any tangible results. We have to rethink our strategy. The country that supported the Genocide cannot be the one to dispense justice."

The court rejected the extradition request on the grounds that it could have been politically motivated, as the former minister's legal team argued.

But Ngoga dismissed this as baseless.

"It is ridiculous for anybody to suggest that these extradition requests are politically motivated. Those who think like that are totally off track. We have to understand and face the reality - that France lacks the will in all respects to get Genocide suspects to account," he said.

Rwanda has indicted 20 Genocide suspects living in France and officially asked for their extradition or try them on French soil if they cannot extradite them but France has not responded.

On Wednesday, France-based rights group, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), also said it was not surprised by the court's decision.

The group says its continuous pleas to the government of France to extradite the suspects to Rwanda or prosecute them in France have fallen on deaf ears.

Their most recent petition, on December 16, again highlighted the group's concern over their government offering known Rwandan Genocide suspects a safe haven.

In a press release e-mailed to The New Times on Thursday, the CPCR said: "As expected, once again, the judges of the Paris Court of Appeal refused to extradite the people suspected of having a heavy responsibility in the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Petty Romanian criminals, Bulgarian or Polish and others, aligned before court that day would certainly not have received the same mercy!"

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