Rwanda: Genocide - Delayed Trials for Culprits is Failing Us Twice on Justice - Survivors

The death of Genocide kingpins without their day in court is a sign that the International community has failed Genocide against Tutsi survivors again, so they say.

This comes after the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) announced the death of two of the last six genocide fugitives that were indicted by the UN-backed court in less than a week.

The two fugitives; Protais Mpiranya and Phénéas Munyarugarama died in 2006 and 2002, respectively.

Mpiranya died in Zimbabwe, while Munyarugarama died in the DRC. But remains of another fugitive Augustin Bizimana, who was reported to have died in 2000, were apparently discovered in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo in 2020.

Jean Damascene Ndabirora Kalinda, the legal representative of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for survivors told The New Times in a phone interview that according to the 1948 Genocide Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of Genocide, known as the Genocide convention, countries should be cooperating to have every genocide suspect tried.

"Death is something natural; we cannot stop it. But these people are announced dead after decades of waiting and searching for them so that survivors can get justice. It is unfair that justice is delayed until the suspects die before their trials, which infers that they die while still innocent due to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, according to the principle of law," Kalinda said.

He added that the fact that countries didn't fulfil the prevention part of the 1948 Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, at least they could cooperate with 'punishment,' but clearly, they are failing survivors on justice, and it is shameful.

Kalinda made a fresh call to the international community to bring to justice Genocide fugitives living in their countries.

Gaspard Mukwiye, who survived the Genocide from Bugesera, where Munyarugarama did his best killing the residents, told The New Times that while he is hurt that justice was not served, at least the deceased fugitive has no more chance to infect others.

"It is very painful because if he was tried, we would know how our loved ones were killed, but again, I am happy because there is toxicity he can no longer pass on, because he is dead," Mukwiye said.

Mukwiye told the New Times that no one will ever forget how Munyarugarama, who was the highest ranking military officer and commander of Gako Military Camp in Bugesera District, led and supervised soldiers in his camp, other reservists and the Interahamwe militia in a large scale attack on thousands of refugees who had taken refuge in the Ntarama Catholic Church grounds, mountains Kayumba and Rebero, and in communes Ngenda and Gashora.

"We cannot forget heavy guns that were brought to shoot Tutsi people who were hiding in bushes around Akanyaru, right next to Ntarama where many of them were hiding," Mukwiye added.

The four remaining major fugitives, with $5 million bounty on their heads each are Fulgence Kayishema, who was last seen in South Africa, Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Rwandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo.

All of these were referred to Rwandan courts as part of the tribunal's completion strategy, but the UN court still has the mandate to hunt them down.

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