THE Foreign Affairs and East African Community Cooperation Minister, Dr Augustine Mahiga, has urged the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) not to relent in tracking down the last fugitives of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.
He further challenged the Arusha-based Mechanism to ensure such atrocities did not happen again in human history. Speaking in Arusha at the weekend, Dr Mahiga said it was unfortunate that the genocide had taken place in Africa and that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that was the precursor to the Mechanism was purposely established to address injustices occasioned by the genocide.
Dr Mahiga further called on the Mechanism to engage in capacity building in law, prosecution and related areas for national and regional courts in Africa. "The Mechanism will forever remain a repository of information for all and a centre of excellence from which the world will continue learning about genocide," said the minister, as he graced second Arusha International Organisations Open Day.
He urged EAC Partner States to deepen cooperation in good governance, human rights, democracy and social justice, adding that all protocols on such areas should be revisited and revitalised. According to him, human rights issues are inseparable from the rule of law and democracy and are the essence for the establishment of the African Union of the African Court for Human and Peoples Rights (AfCHPR).
"There are quite a number of gaps with regard to human rights in several African countries... respect for human rights is a value that should be institutionalised, nurtured and passed on to future generations," he noted.
For his part, EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko assured the minister that the regional economic bloc would continue focusing on opening up markets to enhance trade and free movements of persons, improving the business environment to enable the development and competitiveness of the private sector and make the region an attractive investment destination to spur economic growth and generate additional incomes for EAC citizens.
"Going forward, the EAC has already mobilised more than $2.5 billion in funding for various development projects in the Partner States - projects that will be implemented in the next three to five years in health, education, agriculture and other sectors," said the EAC boss.
Established by the Security Council of the United Nations in 2010, the Mechanism is mandated to carry out a number of essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the ICTR after the completion of their mandates.
Both the ICTY and the ICTR were meant to be temporary institutions that would conclude after their mandate to investigate crimes and prosecute individuals was completed.