Rwanda 'Grateful for Action Against Genocide Fugitives'

Photo: New Times
Family and friends lay wreaths on the graves of victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi (file photo).

The Government is grateful to countries that have arrested and extradited/deported to Rwanda or prosecuted Genocide fugitives to help deliver justice for victims, the Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye has said.

Over a million people were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Busingye was on Wednesday addressing U.S. senators and diplomats in Washington, D.C., during an event to mark the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

"Rwanda is grateful to the states that arrest, prosecute, extradite or deport Genocide fugitives found on their territories," he said, adding "The United States of America is one of them; I want to thank the United States."

"The fugitives that were sent from here are facing justice back in Rwanda. It is and will continue to be fair and impartial justice."

US senators at the commemorative event in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. / Courtesy photos

Rwanda has since 2007 issued 1,012 indictments and warrants for Genocide fugitives in 32 countries across the word, according to the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU).

Subsequently, some 22 Genocide fugitives, including eight arrested in Belgium, two in Canada, and three in Sweden, were tried in those respective countries.

About 19 fugitives were extradited or deported to Rwanda.The U.S has since deported four, Denmark extradited two and Norway one. Malawi transferred one while neighbouring Uganda deported three, and Canada two. The Netherlands extradited two and deported another.

The problem of the fugitives still loaming free, Busingye explained, is that "they are the last outposts of genocide ideology and denial, pushing both relentlessly and without remorse, and slowly but surely and deliberately poisoning their listeners."

Busingye said that Genocide denial needs global attention and action.

"Genocide and genocide denial are siblings, we can't claim we have defeated one if the second is not defeated as well. Denial manifests through verbal or written expressions that deny the reality of the facts, the scale of the genocide, state complicity and groups who committed genocide in the state's name."

"Denial seeks to obliterate the memory of the genocide and distort the history of the genocide. Denial is used to protect the perpetrators of the genocide, their accomplices and ideological heirs. Denial is lethal, it needs to be called out for what is, and punished," Busingye, who doubled as the Attorney General, said.

Last week, Belgian parliament adopted a new law that broadens the repression of genocide denial to include the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Rwanda, France, Italy and Switzerland have all instituted laws that criminalise denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

And Kigali is inviting all states to do the same to counteract denial.

The thinking is that any policy or legislative action aimed at prevention, deterrence or punishment of genocide ideology, genocide denial or ethnic bigotry is, ultimately, an act in genocide prevention.

Prevention and repression of the crime of genocide and its denial is an obligation of all member states of the United Nations.

Genocide is a grave violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security, Busingye said.

"Many genocide fugitives holed out in the USA, Europe, Canada, parts of Africa and elsewhere, left Rwanda after exterminating innocent children, elderly and adults."

Busingye noted that the world being the complicated place that it is, the major Genocide masterminds, on whom the US has even put a $5 million reward for information leading to their arrest, still elude capture and justice.

'They will run but they will not hide'

The US administration's work in this area, he added, should inspire other administrations in other countries to track Genocide suspects and bring them to justice.

"Genocide is an indescribable crime. Fugitives will be arrested and brought to justice one by one. They will run, they will not hide. Never again, should, this time, be a real call to humanity and a commitment of all humanity."

Rwanda has healed, Busingye said. Although the journey ahead is still long, he noted, the 25 years since 1994 has seen tremendous progress in Rwanda.

"Rwanda today is a country at peace with herself, reconciled and united as never before,' he said. "Ethnic bigotry is nearly extinct especially for the 70 per cent of our population of over 12 million Rwandans who were born after the Genocide".

"Our Genocide convicts prisoner number is about a quarter of the total 65,000 prisoners, and decreasing each day."

Today, Rwanda's justice system is nearly wholly automated "and is transparent, impartial and efficient."

The minister said that one can now file and track a case in any of the country's 65 courts from Washington D.C., "and only appear when the court needs your presence."

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