Rwanda on Friday joined the rest of the world in marking the 68th anniversary of the International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, with renewed calls for governments to fight genocide ideology and punish its culprits.
In September last year, the UN established December 9 as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. It is therefore the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The "Genocide Convention", as the agreement is referred to, is a call for governments all over the world to fight and prevent the crime of genocide and also commemorate and honour its victims.
In line with observing the Genocide Convention Day in Rwanda, about 100 MPs who are members of the Anti Genocide Parliamentary Forum (AGPF Rwanda) visited 48 universities and other institutions of higher learning across the country to spread the message against genocide ideology.
At the University of Rwanda's College of Business and Economics, Senator Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba, Vice-President of the Senate, reminded thousands of students that Rwandans have to stay united since it has become the only reasonable way for them to prosper given the country's history of hate and exclusion.
"It was after the unity of Rwandans was destroyed that we started dying and became refugees as we faced exclusion in our own society," she told the students, urging them to be champions of unity and good leaders in the future.
Rwanda, which lost more than a million lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has since moved on as a peaceful and united country thanks to the current government's unity and reconciliation policies.
The policies have led to considerable reduction in genocide ideology in the country over the last 22 years, with studies conducted last year by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) and the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) indicating that the vice has reduced 80 per cent since the end of the Genocide.
But challenges remain, with CNLG officials indicating in a statement issued on Friday that "denial of the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi is still rampant in foreign countries, and the absence of robust legislation or political will has led to its endurance."
The commission's Executive Secretary, Dr Jean-Damascène Bizimana, said that "inaction and lack of political will have also meant that many suspected genocidaires residing outside Rwanda remain unpunished."
"The concept of universal jurisdiction remains empty when host countries do not have sufficient legal measures or determination to prosecute them before their national courts, or extradite them to Rwanda for trial," he warned.
The commission urged governments across the world to enact laws against denial of the genocide against the Tutsi and arrest its suspects, singling out France as an example of countries that need to respect their international obligations and send genocide suspects to courts.
"The case of France is particularly outstanding: apart from two recent trials, other alleged genocide suspects have enjoyed utmost impunity for many years and Rwanda's requests for extradition are systematically quashed by the French courts," Bizimana said in the statement.
France, which has vehemently denied its involvement in the genocide against the Tutsi despite available evidence of its political and military leaders participating in the slaughter, was recently asked by the Rwandan government to cooperate on on-going investigations carried out by Rwandan judicial authorities on the involvement of French officials in the Genocide.