Renewed calls for arrest of Genocide fugitives
The call by the United States on countries to act swiftly in arresting Genocide fugitives on the Reward for Justice Programme, has been welcomed, but with mixed feelings.
In a statement, the US State Department called upon countries that still harbour the nine suspects of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, on the Reward for Justice List, to ensure their immediate arrest.
Under the programme, introduced by the State Department with an aim of accelerating the arrest of some of the most dangerous criminals in the world, over a dozen Rwandans were put on the list.
A five million dollar bounty is on the head of each of the suspects, key architects of the Genocide.
All the suspects on the Reward for Justice Programme are fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
“The USA has helped the ICTR to apprehend several fugitives under this programme. In other words, the reward for justice has to, a considerable extent, paid off...we also hope the US will speed up processes to apprehend several indicted fugitives on their own territory,” said Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga.
Some four fugitives have been arrested since the programme was introduced, and have all been transferred to the tribunal.
One of them is Jean Uwinkindi, whom the tribunal last month transferred to Rwanda for trial.
He was arrested in 2010 in Uganda.
However, sections of Rwandans have in the past accused the United States of dragging its feet in dealing with fugitives who are on US soil even as it remains one of the few countries that have deported to Rwanda suspects for trial.
According to prosecution spokesperson, Alain Mukurarinda, the US cannot under its laws try a suspect for Genocide.
“They have been mainly basing on their immigration laws to send fugitives arrested there for trial,” said Mukurarinda.
Three people have been deported after they were found to have flouted US immigration laws while seeking asylum, by hiding their role in the 1994 Genocide.
The last one to be deported is a woman, Marie Claire Mukeshimana, who was brought to Rwanda in December last year.
“We believe the (reward for justice) programme will continue to operate even as some of those case files are transferred here from the ICTR...in a wider picture, we hope, collective tracking efforts will continue to cover those fugitives whose cases have been transferred,” said Ngoga.
The most sought suspects remain at large.
They include Felicien Kabuga, the suspected chief financier of the Genocide, who for years the ICTR said was holed up in Kenya.
Others are Protais Mpiranya, the former commandant of the notorious President Guard and the former Minister of Defence, Augustin Bizimana.
Doubts are high over if the UN court, which is based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, will live long to see these big fish have their day in court as the tribunal is supposed to have wound up its activities by the end of 2014.
Contact email: felly.kimenyi[at]newtimes.co.rw