Tanzanian official urges UN court to intensify search for Genocide fugitives

Amb. Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and EAC Cooperation (right), with EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko during the 2nd Arusha International Organizations Open Day at the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Grounds in Lakilaki, Arusha. Courtesy.

The Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has been challenged to put in more efforts to pursue the remaining fugitives of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi whose trial fall under its jurisdiction.

The call was made by Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Community Cooperation, Augustine Mahiga, while speaking on Saturday during the International Organizations Open Day in Arusha.

Mahiga said that the Arusha-based court should continue to track the last fugitives of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and to ensure they are tried and sentenced to send a message to the world that genocide must not happen anywhere again.

Mahiga said it was unfortunate that genocide happened in Africa, adding that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the precursor to the Mechanism, was established to address the injustices occasioned by the genocide and ensure that it is not repeated.

Mahiga further called on the Mechanism to engage in capacity building in law, prosecution and related areas for national judiciaries and regional courts in Africa.

The minister said that the Mechanism was a repository of information for all and a centre of excellence from which the world will continue to learn about genocide.

The minister, under whose docket EAC Affairs falls, urged EAC Partner States to deepen cooperation in areas of good governance, human rights, democracy and social justice, adding that all protocols touching on these areas should be revisited and revitalised.

Mahiga said that issues of human rights were inseparable from the rule of law and democracy, and that this was the essence of the establishment by the African Union of the African Court for Human and Peoples Rights.

MICT, which was instituted six years ago to replace the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and the former Yugoslavia, has been marred by controversies.

It has not arrested any of the top Genocide fugitives that it was mandated to prosecute after the former tribunal closed shop.

It has instead been granting early release to genocide convicts despite a lack of atonement for their crimes.

Of the 90 persons indicted by the ICTR, eight remain at large. Of these, three have been earmarked for trial by the Mechanism, while the others have been referred to Rwanda under the court’s Rule 11 bis, which provides for the transfer of suspects to national jurisdiction.

The three fugitives earmarked for trial by the Mechanism include Félicien Kabuga, the elusive businessman who is arguably the most wanted suspect of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Facing a litany of charges pertaining to mass murder and crimes against humanity, Kabuga, also known as the Financier of the Genocide, has always managed to elude the hands of international justice, even with a bounty of 5 million U.S dollars hanging on his head.

Kabuga, who was a core member of the Akazu, the cabal of individuals that prepared the Genocide against the Tutsi, was a businessman with connections to the former first family of Juvenal Habyarimana.

The second fugitive is Augustin Bizimana, who was indicted by the ICTR for genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights.

Bizimana was the Minister for Defence of Rwanda.

The Mechanism is also seeking Protais Mpiranya, a former officer in the former government military who is accused of genocide, or complicity in genocide, as well as crimes against humanity and murder.

During the Genocide, Mpiranya was the Commander of the fiery Presidential Guard Battalion of the FAR.

The indictment states that Mpiranya is directly responsible for ordering the killing and or causing of serious bodily harm to Tutsi, including the killing of the Prime Minister of the Transitional Government, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, among other prominent people.

The ICTR Prosecutor has requested referrals to Rwanda of the cases of the five other fugitives, namely Fulgence Kayishema, Charles Sikubwabo, Aloys Ndimbati, Ryandikayo, and Phénéas Munyarugarama.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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