African prosecutors urged to collaborate in fighting cross-border crimes

Johnston Busingye.

Justice Minister Johnston Busingye has called on the African Prosecutors' Association to always move fast – and with efficiency – in helping combat cross-border crimes.

Without addressing issues of speed and efficiency, he noted, whatever else “we are planning” will always be years behind crime and criminals. 

 

Busingye, who is also the Attorney General, was addressing a meeting of prosecutors from 17 African countries in Kigali.

 

The world, he said, was increasingly becoming a global village and that “when it comes to cross-border crime and the combating thereof it becomes a real small village.” 

 

One crime planned in any of the countries, he noted, easily spreads to all countries simultaneously or faster than each individual country can contain it. 

“The need to collaborate effectively and fast becomes more urgent each day. While our governments get stuck in 30-year-old red-tape practices, spend forever negotiating and never concluding cooperation agreements, MoUs and extradition treaties, it is clear to all of us that crime is fast and furious and criminals conclude their collaboration agreements in minutes,” he noted.

The prosecutors gathered in Kigali seeking to strengthen their collaboration in combating crime and ensuring accountability for transnational crimes.

Genocide fugitives

One of the aspects of the theme for the meeting was fighting genocide. 

African prosecutors have previously voiced commitment to work with Rwanda to extradite and or prosecute fugitives of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Genocide claimed more than one million lives and caused devastating consequences to the country and its citizens.

Busingye recalled legal consequences caused by the Genocide, stressing that the challenge at hand which requires collective attention is to bring to justice perpetrators. 

“These fugitives are in countries on this continent, probably including some represented here. Rwanda has sent indictments and extradition requests to the countries concerned. Rwanda is yet to receive sufficient cooperation,” he said.

Countries like South Africa are yet to execute arrest warrants for fugitives on their territories – which were issued by Rwanda or the United Nations tribunal set up to prosecute key players in the Genocide.

Among others, Protais Mpiranya, one of the three most wanted Genocide fugitives dubbed the ‘Big Fish’ by the UN, is believed to be in South Africa.

Mpiranya was the commandant of the notorious presidential guards, known for their viciousness in killing people during the Genocide.

Minister Busingye also recalled that genocide is a culmination of a way of thinking of a people, an ideology that promotes hate, dehumanisation, discrimination, results in a “we versus them” reality.

“This ideology is thought out, propagated and spread by people who do it deliberately with intent that it results in a genocide.  This ideology is criminal.  A number of countries have criminalised genocide ideology, hate speech and so on,” he noted.

“Let us, on our continent beware.  Let us be on our guard.  If such ideologies crop up anywhere let us know how to spot and confront them.”

He implored the delegates to create an effective permanent forum for cooperation and coordination among their institutions regarding the gathering of information and pertinent investigations, in addition to creating ad hoc joint task forces to handle specific issues.

“Let us endeavour to facilitate the tracking of fugitives and investigation of crime across our different jurisdictions. Africa should not accept to be a safe haven for suspects of organised criminality,” he said.

Reluctance and lack of cooperation among African administrations only creates safe havens for fugitives, he observed, and “ultimately threatens the continent’s social fabric, particularly delayed justice for victims and, eventually, impunity and failure to deliver any kind of justice.”

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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