The Government of Rwanda has welcomed the move by their Belgian counterparts to criminalise the denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, urging other countries to follow suit.
On Monday, during the commemoration of 10 Belgian peacekeepers killed during the genocide, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that before the end of this month, their parliament will vote to criminalise the denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Michel was in the country as one of the dignitaries who attended the launch of the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi on Sunday and a day later, he joined other officials to pay tribute to the Belgian commandoes who were killed on the first day of the Genocide.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente shares his remarks during the commemoration event to honour 10 Belgian peacekeepers who were killed on 7 April 1994. / Sam Ngendahimana
A family member of the victims puts flowers to the stones depicting victims. / Sam Ngendahimana
The Belgians were part of the protection detail of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, who was also killed the same day.
“I would like to announce that before the end of this month, the Belgian parliament will take a decision about the proposal to bring into penal code the denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” he declared.
Rwanda’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, said the Government will be glad to see Belgium putting genocide denial into the penal code.
“Belgium and Rwanda are the two countries with particular historical ties. It hosts many Rwandans and as you know; genocide denial is the last stage of genocide. Putting in place a law that penalises a person who denies the Genocide against the Tutsi on their soil will be another step towards fighting impunity,” he said.
Officials observe a moment of silence to honour ten Belgian peacekeepers killed on 7 April 1994 at Camp Kigali. The commemoration event took place at former Camp Kigali. / Sam Ngendahimana
Besides, genocide is not only a Rwandan problem, but it is also a crime against humanity and the whole world should criminalise genocide denial, he said.
Prof. Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, the President of Ibuka, the umbrella body for Genocide survivors said the proposition was made many years ago and they are glad it is taking the right shape now.
“It is a good move especially since Belgium hosts many people with the genocide ideology, who are also full of denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi; it will help bring to book genocide fugitives who are still on the run,” he said.
Belgian officers pose near 10 stones depicting 10 Belgian peacekeepers killed in Rwanda in 1994. / Sam Ngendahimana
Dusingizemungu added that it was also of great significance, especially for survivors, that the Prime Minister made the announcement from here in Rwanda during the commemoration period.
This, he said, gives hope that implementation will be fast-tracked.
“If countries didn’t do anything to stop genocide, why should they continue to be reluctant to establish laws punishing genocide crimes and bring suspects to justice? It is still a long process but with times, things will change,” he added.