14 March 2013

Rwanda: Bandora's Extradition and the Fight Against Impunity

GENOCIDE survivors and the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide have said that Norway's extradition of Genocide suspect Charles Bandora should serve as a lesson to France and other countries which harbour Gnocide fugitives.

Bandora returned to Rwanda on Sunday after losing an extradition battle.

A former businessman, Bandora, 60, is accused of organising and participating in the Genocide against the Tutsi, particularly the killings of hundreds who had taken refuge at Ruhuha Church in the former Ngenda Commune, currently in Bugesera district.

Speaking to The New Times, Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, an umbrella body of Genocide survivors associations, said Norway's decision is a lesson to all the countries that have failed to act decisively against Genocide suspects.

"The extradition demonstrates the confidence Norway has in Rwanda's judiciary," he said, adding, "Countries like France, on the other hand, have been very adamant to try or deport Genocide suspects. Sometimes they claim suspects won't get a fair trial but the European Court of Human Right confirmed that Rwanda can accord these suspects a fair trial."

He, however, noted that it is currently impossible to assume that France will extradite or deport any Genocide fugitive since it would be implicating itself in the Genocide.

"The current government in France is socialist, just like the one that was in power during the Genocide. Their role in the Genocide is an open secret. This applies to both the army and the intelligence services in France," Dusingizemungu said.

Early last month, a French Appeals Court in Dijon, a city in eastern France, ruled in favour of Rwanda's extradition request for Genocide suspect Innocent Musabyimana, though activists, including those based in Paris, remain sceptical on whether the outcome will be any different from previous scenarios.

Alain Gauthier, the president of France-based rights group, Collective Civil Parties for Rwanda (CPCR), an association that pursues Rwandan Genocide suspects living in France, told The New Times that there was likelihood that the suspect would eventually succeed in getting the extradition suspended.

Gauthier said there was no need to celebrate too soon. "This is not the first time a Court of Appeal is in favour of extradition of an alleged génocidaire, but the Supreme Court has always overturned the decisions. Why would it be different this time?" he asked.

Dusingizemungu pointed out that there are countries that claim they cannot try Genocide suspects because they don't have enabling laws.

"In such a situation, Kigali should use diplomacy to sensitise these countries that we are capable of trying them here in Rwanda," he said.

His arguments were backed up by the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, who also said the move by Norway should be emulated by other countries, especially France.

"What Norway did is what we expect the whole world to do but in this case, France, in particular, should emulate this," Mucyo said.

The Dean of Faculty of Law at the National University of Rwanda, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, said that the Norway's move is a vote of confidence to the Rwandan Judicial system.

"This move is a verdict delivered on the Rwandan judiciary that it is capable of delivering a fair trial to all the suspects. We should expect more extraditions and deportations since the European Court of Human Right has also demonstrated its trust in the Rwandan judiciary," said Ugirashebuja.

Badora's extradition was confirmed by a European Court of Human Rights, which on Friday last week rejected his appeal that he would not get fair trial once transferred to Rwanda.

During the Genocide, he was a businessman and the vice-president of the MRND, the party well known for having conceptualised and orchestrated the Genocide that left over a million people dead in just 100 days.

France, a country which maintained close ties with the genocidal regime of Juvenal Habaryimana, is home to at least 21 indicted Genocide fugitives, according to the National Public Prosecution Authority. Several of these fugitives have previously been arrested on Rwanda's request, only to be released shortly after.

Most of the suspects fled to France in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of at least a million people in 100 days. Among these suspects are Laurent Bucyibaruta, former prefect of the former Gikongoro prefecture, and Father Wenceslas Muyeshyaka, a former catholic priest, whose cases were transferred to France by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Other fugitives on French soil are Dr Sosthene Munyemana and Eugene Rwamucyo, former lecturers at the National University of Rwanda, Lt. Col. Marcel Bivugabagabo, and Felicien Barigira. Others include, Claver Kamana, a former businessman and president of MRND (the genocidal party) in the former Gitarama prefecture; Pierre Tegera, who worked with the National Programme for Potato Improvement in Kinigi; Alphonse Ntilivamunda, formerly a director in the Ministry of Public Service; and Enoch Kanyondo, a football referee and an active member of MRND. Callixte Mbarushimana, a former UNDP official in Kigali, wh

o currently serves as the Secretary General of the Congo-based FDLR militia; Stanislas Mbonampeka, a lawyer; and Isaac Kamali, who was the director in the Ministry of Public Service in charge of Kigali City, are also among the suspected genocidaires in France.

Apart from France, the United Kingdom is another safe haven for Genocide fugitives. Last year, the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, tracked down one genocide suspect, Modeste Kennedy Hakizimana, who has lived in the UK for the past 14 years and currently works as a taxi driver in London. Despite the British authorities being aware of the atrocities Hakizimana stands accused of back in Rwanda, 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 Genocide suspects. The four fugitives include three former Bourgmestres (Mayors) Charles Munyaneza (Kinyamakara), Celestin Ugirashebuja (Kigoma) and Emmanuel Nteziryayo (Mudasomwa), and Vincent Bajinya, a medical doctor. They were freed in 2009 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 activists call loopholes in the country's legal system. The decision came shortly after

ICTR had rejected Rwanda's request to transfer some suspects to Kigali, raising concersns over the country's legal system. However, ICTR later ruled in favour of such transfers culminating in the tranfer of Jean Uwinkindi, earlier last year. His trial is ongoing. The US and Canada have also transfered suspects to Rwanda. Rwanda does not have an extradition treaty with most western countries. In case of absence of an extradition treaty, the governments work on a memorandum of understanding which may guide any extradition. Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland have also had records with Genocide suspects, arresting and releasing tsome while prosecuting others.

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