The decision by the President of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Judge Theodor Meron, to release Genocide convict Aloys Simba has left survivors reeling with anger, with many calling it his final blow before his retirement this year.
The Executive Secretary of the umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors, Ibuka, Naphtal Ahishakiye, told The New Times in a telephone interview that Meron’s decision, which came less than four months to the 25 year anniversary of the atrocities is a clear message that the judge had taken the perpetrators’ side instead of justice.
“It is very sad that Meron released this man whose crimes are still fresh in the survivors’ minds. This, to us, seals his now notorious disregard of the survivors’ pursuit for justice which has been the norm throughout his tenure in that office,” he said.
Ahishakiye pointed out that what survivors find even more disappointing is the UN Security Council’s failure to stop Meron’s actions despite several complaints.
“We hope that whoever replaces him does better and can deliver justice without taking sides and can give survivors reason to believe in international law again,” he said.
He called on survivors to continue to be strong to support one anotherin the face of such challenges.
The coordinator of the association of student survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi (AERG), Emmanuel Twahirwa, said that Meron’s decision was not surprising since he clearly sided with the perpetrators from the moment he stepped into office.
“We have been wondering what move Meron is going to make since this year’s commemoration is the 25th and a milestone. Again, he proved where he belong when it comes to justice. It is painful but he has never been on the side of those seeking justice anyway,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean-Damascène Bizimana, told The New Times that Meron’s decision was aimed at continuing to hurt survivors and undermining the pain.
“He is known to side with the planners and masterminds of the Genocide lessening their sentences and acquitting them,” he said.
In June last year, the Chief Prosecutor of the MICT, Dr Serge Brammertz, said that Rwanda deserves a seat on the table of decision makers when it comes to setting conditions for granting early release of Genocide convicts by the court.
Brammertz said that there are many countries where early release is more of a conditional release where it is linked to a number of conditions to be imposed adding that the Government should be involved in deciding what those conditions should be.
“Early release is a decision that courts all over the world exercise but in the case of the Genocide, I think that strict conditions should be put in place and Rwanda should be given an opportunity to determine which conditions these are. The conditions could include reparations, an apology and the convict could be prohibited from ever denying the Genocide,” he said.