Kwibuka26: AU Chair calls for arrest of Genocide fugitives on African soil

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat has urged all African nations to bring to book Genocide fugitives, as well as combat genocide ideology and denial.

He made the remarks through a statement issued on April 7, 2020 the day on which Rwanda starts commemoration week in memory of the over one million victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

 

This is the 26th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

 

Between April and July 1994, he said, the world stood still in awe as more than a million people were killed in a space of one hundred days in Rwanda.

 

“As we remember the fallen mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Rwanda, we should not be oblivious of the fact that genocide is always well planned, deliberately executed with impunity, yet genocide is also always followed by denial,” he said.

“We should, therefore, redouble our efforts in fighting genocide ideology, its denial as well as impunity. If genocide ideology persists, its denial will continue unabated and impunity will reign. This task should not be the responsibility of the leadership and people of Rwanda alone,” he observed.

He indicated that tackling such a problem is the collective responsibility of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities/regional mechanisms and all Member States, civil society organisations (CSOs), the youth organisations, the women’s movement, Media and Academia.

“We should collectively combat genocide ideology, impunity and denial working hand-in-glove with the international community and all other stakeholders,” he observed.

Fighting impunity

Fighting impunity, he said, should equally be at the heart of the continent’s collective efforts as AU member states as well as the international community by arresting, prosecuting or extraditing indicted fugitives.

“Last year at its 836th meeting held on 3rd April, the AU Peace and Security Council called upon countries to arrest, prosecute or extradite fugitives accused of genocide. It is imperative that countries move towards implementation of this decision,” he pointed out.

Since the establishment of the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit in 2007, the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) has so far issued 1,140 indictments and international arrest warrants to 33 countries in four continents – Africa, Europe, North America and Australia.

However, the response towards Rwanda’s requests has been at a slow pace, especially in Africa where more than half of the indicted fugitives live, according to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye.

In general, about 23 trials have been held abroad taking place in Belgium, Sweden, France, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland, while 24 fugitives were brought back to Rwanda for trial.

Those came partly from the United States of America, Netherlands, Uganda, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This year’s commemoration is being held under the theme: “Remember-Unite-Renew”.

This is the twelfth year since the African Union started the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

However, this year our commemoration activities have been limited due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Although we will not be formally gathering at the African Union Commission for this event as usual, I encourage you to commemorate this day from wherever you are,” AU chairperson urged Africans.

Faki said that this annual commemoration affords us an opportunity to reflect, and continue the fight against genocide, its ideology, denial and impunity with a view to ensure that never again shall Africa experience such a heinous crime against humanity.

“In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the leadership and the people of Rwanda for consistently working towards “Never Again” and for emerging through resilience and unity from the terrible past and putting Rwanda on a development path that continues to inspire many countries on our continent and beyond,” he added.

President Paul Kagame was on Tuesday morning joined by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and other senior government officials to light a flame of hope and laying a wreath at Kigali Genocide Memorial, where over 250,000 Genocide victims are laid to rest.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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