Hopes of bringing Genocide suspects roaming freely in Congo Brazzaville to book could materialise soon following the sealing of an extradition treaty to exchange criminals.
In a recent Cabinet meeting, the Government approved the long-awaited Bill authorising ratification of the convention on extradition and transfer of suspects and convicted offenders between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo, signed in Congo Brazzaville in November 2013.
The Bill, prepared by the Ministry of Justice, is yet to go for scrutiny in Parliament, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pushing for negotiations on its purpose.
Once enacted into law, the Government will be able to demand immediate extradition of 11 documented Genocide suspects residing in Congo-Brazzaville, according to a source.
Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Faustin Nkusi, the spokesperson of the National Prosecution Authority, said the latest development edges closer the prospects of bringing the suspects to book.
“We have sent 11 extradition requests to Congo-Brazzaville. They were sent on different occasions whenever preparation of each suspect’s file was complete. The treaty is a good move and we look forward to what will transpire,” he said.
Nkusi said while it has been challenging to negotiate extradition or deportation of Genocide suspects with some countries, Rwanda wants more African nations to cooperate.
“The essence of having such treaties signed between governments is that the process becomes faster, and efficient towards delivery of justice. What happens is that the host country investigates, apprehends and sends them to courts which then will rule on extraditions,” he explained.
So far, Africa has the highest number of indicted fugitives led by DR Congo with 46, Uganda 38, Burundi 12 and the rest hosting less than 10, according to latest statistics.
Tracking down fugitives
Since the creation of the Genocide tracking unit in 2007, more than 600 indictments and international arrest warrants have been issued against Genocide suspects in 32 countries in Africa, Europe, North America, Canada and New Zealand, officials told The New Times in the recent past.
Officials cite various challenges in hunting down the fugitives. These range from feigning death, concealment of true identities, incessant movements by genocide suspects outside Rwanda and change of religion, all making it difficult to track them down.
Ibuka president Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu told The New Times that countries hosting fugitives should take it as their responsibility to extradite the suspects if they believe in the true principles of justice.
“Our stand has always been that we seek justice that is done here. We want those countries to understand the urgency in extraditing Genocide fugitives, our judiciary has already gained international trust to deliver fair justice,” he said.
Easing witness participation
Dusingizemungu emphasised that trial of suspects in their home country makes it easier for witnesses to submit evidence.
“It should also be noted that when these people are tried here, it facilitates reintegration in society. Those suspects irrespective of their verdicts later join the rest of Rwandans in the country in social-economic development,” said the president of the umbrella of Genocide survivor organisations.
Rwanda has sustained push for justice for suspects as an international obligation that needs to be fully adhered to.
Countries like Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, US, Canada among others have shown a good example by trying suspects while others decided to extradite them for trial in Rwanda.
According to officials, most of the trials abroad have resulted into convictions, clearing misconceptions that some fugitives are being pursued for political reasons.
About 20 Genocide fugitives have been tried abroad while about 17 were convicted. Only one was acquitted.