6 February 2013

Rwanda: Ngoga Accuses ICTR of Double Standards

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, yesterday, blamed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for not putting in place a mechanism to monitor the trial of two Genocide suspects that were in 2007 referred to the French jurisdiction.


According to Ngoga, the ICTR is monitoring Rwanda yet a monitoring mechanism for France was never created.

Under the tribunal's completion strategy the cases of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta were referred to France but authorities in Paris are yet to try the cases.

Last year, the same Court transferred Genocide suspect Jean Uwinkindi to Rwanda and also established a monitoring mechanism although the Tribunal didn't establish the monitoring mechanism for the two cases in France.

While addressing a news conference, Ngoga challenged the tribunal to ensure that the cases in France are tried, monitored or withdrawn back to the tribunal.

"You have seen how the ICTR is monitoring here yet they didn't create a monitoring mechanism for France. Actually ,France should be the one under monitoring now because, for us, they brought the case, we took it to court and the delay that is happening is from the defendant. France has done nothing, the ICTR has not taken back the cases and they have not even created a monitoring mechanism, this is a clear double standard," he said.

Ngoga who seemed angry, added that, "Here is the trouble coming, if ICTR does not take back those cases in France; alternatively, if they don't a create monitoring mechanism for France we will stop working with their monitors here. If that doesn't happen within reasonable time we will tell them that their monitors are no longer needed here, if they want to come and take back their prisoner they should come and do so."

Father Munyeshyaka is accused of genocide and acts constituent of crimes against humanity (rape, extermination, and murder). His case has dragged on in France since a judicial investigation was opened in 1995, to such an extent that Paris was condemned for its slowness by the European Court of Human Rights in 2004.

Bucyibaruta was indicted in 2000 following a complaint filed against him and three other Rwandans residing in France. The former prefect of Gikongoro was freed in 2000, and his case - as did Munyeshaka's - came before a Paris court, after a decision by a superior court to group the Rwandan cases together "in the interest of administering justice well."

According to Ngoga, Rwanda will not continue to be monitored when France is not being monitored and that "it smells very bad remembering that when these judges ordered that we should be monitored, they had for four years done nothing about France and yet we all received these cases under the same arrangement."

A team of monitors in the trial of Uwinkindi is expected to arrive in Rwanda sometime this month and according to Ngoga, if their coming is not going to be the turning point of events it's going to be their last visit to Kigali.

In a related development, Ngoga expressed dissatisfaction over a decision by the ICTR Appeals Camber to overturn a sentence that was earlier handed to the two former ministers Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza.

Mugenzi was Minister of Trade during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, while Mugiraneza was Public Service minister.

A Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had on September 30, 2011, found both men guilty of conspiracy to commit Genocide and direct and public incitement to commit Genocide and sentenced them to 30 years in jail. But the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, presided by American judge Theodor Meron, on Monday overturned the conviction and ordered their release, leaving Genocide survivors and Rwandans in general in shock.

"Justice is rendered in the name of the people, but the people can disagree with justice sometimes and in particular decisions that were rendered on Monday by the ICTR, the people of this country are in serious disagreement," Ngoga said during the news briefing.

He added that, "This is very disappointing and very worrying because it's not the first time...in the process of justice you have to expect surprises but some surprises are more surprising that the others."

The Prosecutor General pointed out that when Emmanuel Bagambiki was acquitted, Rwanda thought it was just a wrong decision and registered its frustration.

Blown cash

Other acquittals that he protested against were those of Protais Zigiranyirazo and Casimir Bizimungi.

"There are serious questions in the Monday decisions that are hard to answer, why do we have such a huge discrepancy of opinion between two international tribunal chambers? It is either one of them is extremely incompetent or the other is extremely very intelligent, otherwise why would you have 30 years being quashed," Ngoga questioned.

The ICTR has been accused of being a waste of time and money. Monday's ruling means the Tribunal has now spent £1 billion, to put just 43 people permanently behind bars.

A former senior official at the ICTR told the UK based The Telegraph that he was "increasingly disappointed" at trials that were "dragging on" and judges were handing out "unbelievably low sentences for convictions of the gravest of crimes".

"The expense is an issue, and the results of that spending are even more disturbing," said Tim Gallimore, who sat at the heart of the tribunal's operations as its chief spokesman between 2004 and 2008.

He added that "this difference of opinion should not be so separate to give an indication that the other has done nothing or doesn't know what is doing. This is not the ordinary disagreement that we know."

Ngoga wondered why the tribunal would keep former prime minister Jean Kabanda in prison on the basis that he pleaded guilty for leading a government that had a genocide project, when the same ministers that were sent out to implement that project are acquitted.

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