THE HEAD of the United States’ Office of Global Criminal Justice announced in Kigali on Thursday that Washington had renewed efforts to bring to justice some of the men who played a central role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The world owes it to the Genocide victims and humanity to bring to try the masterminds of one of the worst genocides in human history.
Yet it is important that we confront the reality: While the UN set up a special court to try Genocide cases, it has done little to ensure that the ‘big fish’ in the Rwandan tragedy are tracked down and held accountable for their heinous crimes.
Indeed it is a shame that such fugitives as Félicien Kabuga, Augustin Bizimungu and Protais Mpiranya are still at large 20 years after the atrocities that claimed the lives of more than a million people.
Despite the existence of the US$5 million rewards programme for anyone who provides the information that would lead to the arrest of any of the three men and 15 others, only half the suspects targeted under the war crimes rewards-for-justice programme were arrested over a period spanning seven years – with the UN tribunal that indicted them, ICTR, set to wrap up business later this year.
Rwanda, through the Interpol, has also issued arrest warrants for more than 200 other suspects but the 30 or so countries that host them have done little to help in this regard. Instead, some countries have gone as far as to openly frustrate efforts to apprehend and have these fugitives extradited to stand trial home or even tried by the host countries.
Instead of standing for justice by demanding accountability for the crimes committed, some UN member states have even attempted to legitimise a terrorist organisation created by the same elements that committed the Genocide, and to obstruct justice.
While the reward for justice programme is noble and should be sustained, more efforts should be put in demanding that nations respect their international obligations and assist in the arrest of the wanted persons and refrain from actions that seek to cover up the fugitives’ criminal record.
UN must not allow member states to obstruct justice.