The Prosecutor for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), Serge Brammertz, has said his office has credible intelligence on the whereabouts of several of the eight Rwandan Genocide fugitives indicted by the court.
The mechanism took over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) established by the UN to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Addressing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Brammertz said that they had approached a number of Member States seeking cooperation to have the fugitives apprehended by this has not been forthcoming.
Without naming those countries, he said that “there are a number of issues in state cooperation that have negatively impacted the (Office of the Prosecutor) OTP’s efforts to secure arrests”.
He however did not mention which countries where the fugitives have been sighted.
Out of the eight fugitives, only three – the so-called Big Fish – remain under the jurisdiction of the Mechanism should they be arrested, while the UN Prosecutor has referred the remaining five to Rwanda.
The Big Fish include Felicien Kabuga, known as the Financier of the Genocide, who was a businessman during the Genocide and a major shareholder of hate radio station RTLM.
Others are Augustin Bizimungu, who was the Minister of Defence of the genocidal government and Protais Mpiranya, who headed the elite presidential guard unit that was known for its ruthlessness during the Genocide.
The five that have been referred to Rwanda are Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo.
It also appears that some countries do not give priority to cooperating with the Office in bringing genocide fugitives to justice, he said, adding that only on July 16 did South Africa confirm that it is committed to cooperating in the case of a fugitive located on its territory.
According to a statement, Germany’s representative to the Council joined other delegations in voicing support for the Mechanism’s efforts to locate the eight Rwandan fugitives and called on States where those persons might now be living to step up efforts by their law enforcement authorities to arrest and surrender them.
The US, through its Reward for Justice Programme, has offered a $5 million bounty for information that leads to the arrest of each of the eight fugitives.
This commitment by the US was emphasised to the Security Council by the US delegation, urging that the burden to hold those responsible to account should not fall on victims, but on states.
Addressing the Council, Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, echoed the call by the Prosecutor’s office to all member states to adhere to their international legal obligations to provide the assistance needed to locate and apprehend genocide fugitives.
Rwanda has sent out more than 1,000 indictments to 34 countries around the world, requesting for their cooperation in arresting and prosecuting individuals indicted or transfer them to Rwanda to face justice.
She said: “We urge all member states, in particular members of this Council [Security Council], to walk the talk of commitment to international law and justice by either prosecuting the individuals indicted and living on their territory or by transferring them to Rwanda to face prosecution.”
In particular she reiterated Kigali’s call for the arrest or trial of Dr. Vincent Bajinya, Emmanuel Nteziryayo, Charles Munyaneza, Celestine Ugirashebuja and Celestin Mutabaruka, all living freely in the United Kingdom. Nearly 11 years on, a decision is still pending on the cases of Genocide suspects living in the UK.
In April, Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana reiterated that his office is ready to support efforts by UK authorities to bring to justice the five men suspected of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“We also call for the arrest or trial of Kayishema Fulgence, living in South Africa and for whom the prosecutor has on several times requested for cooperation without results until now,” Rugwabiza added.
Rugwabiza said that Kigali welcomed, among others, France’s recent efforts and encourage them to pursue these efforts until genocide fugitives who took refuge in their country are brought to justice.
Long time pending cases of genocide fugitives in France, she said, include Dr Sosthene Munyemana, Dr. Eugene Rwamucyo, Dr. Marcel Bivugababo and Dr Charles Twagira, “deserve full attention of relevant authorities.”