The Chief Prosecutor for the International Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Serge Brammertz, has called for a globally binding legislation that makes it punishable to deny crimes which have been recognised by international tribunals.
MICT took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, after the two UN tribunals closed shop a few years ago.
Brammertz made the call Thursday, at the beginning of his two-day visit to Rwanda, which will see him revisit the work that has been done through a cooperation framework with different institutions in the country to ease delivery of justice by the Tanzania-based Mechanism.
The framework was signed six months ago.
Genocide suspect Wenceslas Twagirayezu on arrival at Kigali International Airport following his extradition from Denmark in January 2019. / Sam Ngendahimana
In a joint news conference with Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana, Brammertz said that the world was facing more genocide denial today than anytime before, that there was need to do more to put a stop to it.
“Genocide denial is an extremely serious issue but adding unfortunately, it is something that is much more present today than it was years ago. We need stronger reaction by the international community with regard to denial and I think there should be a legal mechanism to make it punishable everywhere and at all times,” he said.
Glorifying war criminals
Citing the example of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Brammertz said that some governments and other institutions continue to contribute to the distortion of facts by giving platforms to genocide deniers and, in some cases, financing their work in what he called ‘glorification of war criminals’.
“Individuals who have been convicted of genocide before are invited by governments to military academies to train the new generation of military men and women. You have a commission set up to somehow rewrite the history of the genocide in Srebrenica and then there is the Serbian Ministry of defence financing the publishing of a memoir of a war criminal who is sitting in prison. It is not right,” he said.
Mutangana told the media that the Government will not rest until Genocide deniers are brought to justice.
“When a Rwandan denies the Genocide, we investigate and pursue their arrest but the onus is on the host (country) to cooperate, but whether it is now or later, they must face justice,” he said.
He commended France and Belgium who recently passed laws to punish Genocide denial, adding that both should serve as examples for the rest of the world.
“We have people in academia, media and other individuals who deny the Genocide against the Tutsi all the time. Some are Rwandan, others are not. Some participated in the Genocide, but it’s very encouraging that some countries are beginning to punish this. Belgium and France are onboard and this is a good sign that there is hope that others will follow suit,” he said.
The court, which was established to try masterminds of the Genocide against the Tutsi, is still looking for three key fugitives – Felicien Kabuga, the financier of the Genocide, former Minister of Defence Augustin Bizimungu, and notorious officer of Ex-FAR, Protais Mpiranya.
Case files for five other fugitives indicted by the tribunal but remain at large were referred to Rwanda for trial.