Rwanda: Prosecuting Genocidaires is Fighting Genocide Denial - UN Chief Prosecutor

Chief Prosecutor at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), Serge Brammertz, stressed that the fight against genocide denial can only be successful if genocide suspects are brought to book.

He made the remarks on Saturday, April 17, during a virtual conference themed "27 years after the genocide against the Tutsi: How can we end genocide denial?"

According to Brammertz, when alleged genocide perpetrators are brought to justice, genocide denial loses its foothold.

He said: "To fight genocide denial, we must continue the fight for justice. Every prosecution of an alleged genocidaire is a rejection of denial and a reminder of the truth."

"We failed the victims the first time, 27 years ago. We cannot fail them again today by allowing genocide denial to spread," he added.

This being said, according to Olivier Nduhungirehe, Ambassador of Rwanda to The Netherlands, there are still several challenges hindering the process of holding alleged genocidaires accountable, mainly lack of political will.

"The main issue is lack of political will to deal with the issue. 27 years after the genocide against the Tutsi, there are countries that do not want to either prosecute or extradite genocide suspects," he underscored.

He further noted that while discussions with concerned countries to do the necessary are ongoing, these countries should put into consideration that justice should be served in due time.

Fugitives roaming freely

According to the Ministry of Justice (Minijust), since the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU) was established in 2007, it has issued 1,146 indictments and arrest warrants against genocide fugitives in 33 countries.

However, surprisingly, legal action of extraditing the suspects to Rwanda or trying them where they are has been taken against 46 accused only.

This figure suggests that 1,100 genocide fugitives have not yet been brought to book.

"Rwanda has received very few responses to requests for cooperation contained in the more than 1,100 perpetrator indictments sent to many countries," said Providence Umurungi, Head of International Justice and Judicial Cooperation Department at Minijust.

"All countries should do much more to fight genocide impunity and genocide denial, by adopting laws criminalizing both genocide and its denial," she added.

According to National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), besides intentionally covering up genocidaires by some countries, other existing challenges in the process of holding genocide suspects accountable include people who change their identity and nationality, which makes it difficult to be tracked.

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