Rwanda Implores UN to Back Arrest of Genocide Fugitives

The Permanent Representative to the UN, Valentine Rugwabiza has expressed Rwanda's disappointment over lack of effective cooperation from UN member states to bring Genocide fugitives to justice for the last 27 years.

She was addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, June 8, alongside the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) President and Prosecutor who were presenting their 18th progress report.

The mechanism took over the work of the now-dissolved International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Rugwabiza called for the Council's urgent attention to the lack of cooperation calling it the single most important impediment to the completion of the mandate given to IRMCT.

"Let us recall that Rwanda sent out more than 1,000 indictments to countries around the world requesting their cooperation to arrest and prosecution of genocide fugitives or their transfer to Rwanda. Few countries have responded to these indictments," she said.

Currently, there are 1,145 indictments and international arrest warrants for individuals living in 33 countries worldwide.

Besides these fugitives, there are five others who were referred to Rwanda by the UN court under its completion strategy but they have remained fugitives ten years later.

France, US commended

Rugwabiza commended the few countries that have extended cooperation to the Office of the Prosecutor at the Mechanism and to the Rwandan Prosecution over the years.

In particular, she said that the government welcomes the commitment made by French President Emmanuel Macron to bring to justice alleged perpetrators living on French territory.

Rugwabiza also commended the French government's cooperation in the arrest of Genocide mastermind Felicien Kabuga on their territory.

She welcomed the more recent decision by the French judiciary for setting May 2022 as the trial date for Genocide mastermind Laurent Bucyabaruta who resides in France.

"We wish to call for an expedited trial so that the justice that has been delayed for more than two decades can finally be delivered," she said.

She also extended Rwanda's gratitude to the US government for their recent repatriation of genocide fugitive Beatrice Munyenyezi last April.

"These developments are a clear demonstration that justice can be rendered where there is political will to extend judicial cooperation to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity," she said.

Call on AU

Rugwabiza pointed out that a big number of genocide fugitives live in African countries.

She reminded of the African Union Peace and Security decision of April 12, 2021 which calls on all member states to investigate, arrest, prosecute or extradite the genocide fugitives currently residing on their territories.

"Failure to comply with the UN and AU resolutions and decisions to cooperate and bring to justice genocide fugitives has a negative impact on the maintenance of peace and security, which should be obvious to this Council," she said.

Genocide denial

She reminded of the Mechanism Prosecutor's regular reports on genocide denial adding that Rwanda and many other countries have grave concern in this regard.

"The government of Rwanda welcomes the prosecution of those who interfere with witnesses with an aim to revise established facts. We agree with the Prosecutor that such contempt of court is a form of genocide denial and those found guilty of it must face the force of the law," she said.

Just matters

The IRMCT Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said his office has viable leads on all remaining six fugitives and with continued efforts, there could be results soon.

However, he also said that these efforts continue to be frustrated by lack of cooperation from countries hosting the fugitives.

"Our primary challenge is our lack of full and effective cooperation from member states. Simply put, a number of countries are not adhering to the international obligations and are preventing my office from securing arrests," he said.

He reminded the Council that one of the fugitives; Fulgence Kayishema remains at large because South Africa refuses to provide cooperation.

"Unfortunately, the situation remains unchanged and there has been no meaningful improvement. Effectively, South Africa is sending a clear message that their country is a safe haven for genocide fugitives," he said.

Kayishema is one of the suspects who were referred to Rwanda by the UN court.

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