Senate pushes for approval of policy to fight Genocide denial

Family and friends lay a wreath on the graves of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. Nadege Imbabazi.

The Government should put in place a policy on how institutions and people can conduct campaigns against genocide ideology because there is no standard way of doing it at the moment, members of the Upper House of Parliament have said.

The senators made the recommendation yesterday after members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, presented a report from their assessment of the government’s efforts to fight genocide, its ideology and denial.

Though the senators applauded the Government’s efforts to fight genocide and its ideology thus far, they indicated that challenges remain in fighting it and called for national policy on how to do it.

Senator Mike Rugema, who heads the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, said the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) has a policy against genocide ideology, but noted that the policy has never been approved by the cabinet.

“Approving the policy at the cabinet level is the only thing that can give reference to different institutions in their efforts against genocide ideology,” said Rugema.

He said officially approving the policy would be a good starting point for Rwandans to support initiatives against genocide ideology, which are often introduced by different institutions, officials, and ordinary people.

Jeanne d’Arc Mukakalisa, the vice chairperson of the senatorial committee, said the lack of an official policy on how to fight genocide ideology was confirmed by different officials.

“During our interactions with different officials, they told us that they are not aware of the policy,” she said.

Appolinaire Mushinzimana, a member of the committee, said some people cannot differentiate efforts to fight genocide ideology from those about promoting unity and reconciliation.

“Most people will tell you about initiatives to promote unity and reconciliation among Rwandans when you ask them what they are doing to fight genocide ideology. It became clear to us that they don’t have a policy to work with when it comes to fighting genocide ideology,” he said.

For Senator Tito Rutaremara, the fact that there is no policy is the main reason why different people and institutions invent their own ways of fighting genocide ideology. There should be a policy at the national level that is followed by everyone, he said.

The senators also recommended that the Government should prepare didactic materials about fighting genocide ideology at different levels and set up a framework on how to use the materials.

Under Rwandan laws, genocide ideology is a crime that is defined as an aggregate of thoughts manifested by conduct, speeches, documents and other acts aiming at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate people based on their ethnic group, origin, nationality, region, colour, physical appearance, sex, language, religion or political opinion.

Whether it’s in ‘normal’ periods or during war, the crime of genocide ideology can be committed through marginalising, laughing at one ’s misfortune, defaming, mocking, boasting, despising, degrading, creating confusion aiming at negating genocide, stirring up ill feelings, taking revenge, altering testimony or evidence for the Genocide which occurred, killing, planning to kill or attempting to kill someone for purposes of furthering the ideology.

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