A senatorial committee yesterday began a month-long nationwide exercise designed to assess the country’s efforts in the fight against genocide ideology and denial.
The development comes at a time official figures indicate that courts have recently received more cases related to genocide ideology and denial than previously.
The Ministry of Justice says that about 1,300 cases of genocide ideology were reported to the prosecution authorities and courts since 2011 through June 2017, with 319 cases recorded in the fiscal year 2016/17 alone, while 143 were filed in 2011.
Officials in the justice sector say this could be due to increased awareness on the part of the public about the crime, how to detect it, and the readiness to report it, rather than a proof of increased prevalence of genocide ideology and denial.
The senators – members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security – will, among others, seek to establish whether indeed the rise in the number of reported cases is as a result of increased awareness about the vice and the vigilance to seek legal redress, as opposed to a possible increase in the prevalence of these cases.
Genocide ideology was openly taught in schools and propagated in the Rwandan society for a period spanning more than three decades.
It would therefore be naïve to expect that this ideology would be uprooted for good in just over two decades.
Nonetheless, there is every reason to be proud of the progress that Rwandans have hitherto made in taking on a terribly divisive past head-on and forging a common identity as a people.
However, Rwandans need to understand that defeating genocide ideology and its ideologues will take a while. It’s a fight that even the next generation might have to contribute to.
It calls for unrelenting vigilance and willingness on the part of every Rwandan to counter genocide ideology in all its manifestations, not only in Rwanda but even beyond.
But it’s a winnable war.