Ibuka condemns Judge Meron’s decision to deny survivors a voice

Ibuka president Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu (right) speaks during the news conference yesterday as vice president Egide Nkuranga looks on. Nadege Imbabazi.

Leaders of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors associations, have condemned Judge Theodor Meron’s recent official announcement that he will not consider genocide survivors’ ideas while processing applications for early release of Genocide convicts by the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).

Officials told journalists at a press briefing yesterday that Meron, who is MICT’s President, seems to be more interested in protecting Genocide perpetrators’ interests than considering survivors’ concerns.

The president of Ibuka, Prof Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, said that survivors are currently worried that the recent decision made by Meron prohibits third party members who include Genocide survivors and victims from sending any request or interventions in matters regarding the early release procedure for Genocide convicts.

The convicts, who are serving jail terms for their roles in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

“Ibuka finds this decision as a deprivation of rights for Genocide survivors and victims by denying them a chance to present their ideas, arguments and requests on these cases which make a big portion of their history. We therefore present our heartfelt concerns about this issue and we do request the relevant organs, including the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) to intervene and ask Judge Meron to reconsider this decision,” Dusingizemungu said about Meron’s decision.

The judge’s decision that has been interpreted by Ibuka as shutting out survivors’ voices was announced on July 12, 2018 as part of a release (MICT-14-62-ES.1) in which the judge explained his decision not to share files submitted by applicants for their early releases with the Government of Rwanda because they are confidential.

In the release, the judge said that “as a preliminary matter, I consider that only parties mentioned in the Requests to Rwanda, First Interim Orders and Second Interim Orders have a direct interest in these proceedings, and accordingly only those parties have prima facie standing to make submissions in regard to the Applications”.

He added that MICT’s ‘Practice Direction’ and ‘Rules of Procedure’ don’t provide for any third party to the proceedings standing to make submissions on whether an application for pardon, commutation of sentence or early release should be granted.

“As a result, the non-party filings will not be considered in my final determination of the applications,” he said, only allowing convicts and the Government of Rwanda as well as governments of other countries where applicants are detained to file their submissions on the matter of early releases.

The judge is currently reviewing applications for early releases by three genocide convicts who include Aloys Simba, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, and Hassan Ngeze.

More than ten Genocide convicts have secured early releases from the court so far despite efforts were used by both the Government and genocide survivours organisations including Ibuka and individual survivors to try and stop the trend.

Ibuka officials said yesterday that they will write to the United Nations Security Council asking that MICT Judge Meron considers Genocide survivors’ views while determining early release for convicts and also move to initiate a framework under which those who do not prove to have reformed after release are brought back into custody.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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