Justice should not be held hostage by politics

AS THE world joins Rwanda to honour victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, many have been clamouring for an end to impunity. No call could have sounded louder than the one from Arusha, seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that has, for the last two decades, been trying to atone for the world’s failure to prevent genocide. ICTR Chief Prosecutor, Bubacar Jallow, sounded frustrated when he called on countries hosting Genocide suspects to either prosecute them or extradite them to Rwanda. But recent developments seem to indicate that he might wait a lifetime before his wishes materialise. 

AS THE world joins Rwanda to honour victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, many have been clamouring for an end to impunity.

No call could have sounded louder than the one from Arusha, seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that has, for the last two decades, been trying to atone for the world’s failure to prevent genocide.

ICTR Chief Prosecutor, Bubacar Jallow, sounded frustrated when he called on countries hosting Genocide suspects to either prosecute them or extradite them to Rwanda. But recent developments seem to indicate that he might wait a lifetime before his wishes materialise. 

With time clearly not on its side, the tribunal has been unloading cases that it cannot be able to handle to national jurisdictions, Rwanda included. But the reluctance by many countries to either try or extradite Genocide suspects means that many suspects will slip through the fingers.

A recent ruling by a French court to deny the extradition of a suspect on the pretext that the Genocide law in Rwanda was retroactive beats all logic and simply enshrines suspicions that the issue is more political than a sincere need to see justice done.

It has even been suggested that France’s first Genocide trial, that of Pascal Simbikangwa, fell in the above narrative. That its timing was well orchestrated to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Genocide, as a sign that France was doing something about its horde of suspects under its roof. Simbikangwa served a political purpose.

But does it have to take 20 years to arouse a country’s conscience that over a million people died and yet their killers are its guests?

 

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