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EDITORIAL: Jailing of Malawian officials sends a strong message to those shielding genocidaires

Two former senior government officials, including an ex-cabinet minister in Malawi were on Thursday sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour, for among other crimes helping a Rwandan genocide fugitive to fraudulently acquire a passport.

The former Malawian minister for home affairs and internal security, who headed the immigration docket, and a regional director in the Malawian immigration service, were convicted for abuse of office and negligence of official duties.


For a long time, southern African countries were a den for fugitives wanted for their role in the Genocide, and some of them like Vincent Murekezi went on to become successful businessmen in those countries despite arrest warrants on their heads.


Murekezi, who was given a passport with the help of both officials as pronounced by court, also used his wealth to continue funding subversive activities against Rwanda, through outfits like Rwanda National Congress, for which he was a senior member.


Malawi already made a major step towards fighting impunity when last year, it sent Murekezi, who had been arrested for other charges related to using fraudulent means to evade tax, back to Rwanda to serve his sentence.

After serving his sentence he will be held answerable for the genocide crimes for which he was tried in absentia and sentenced to life by a Gacaca court in Huye District. Fortunately, the law allows him to seek retrial so he can have his day in court.

As for the two Malawian officials who on top of the five-year jail term will not be eligible to hold a public office for at least seven years, they set an example to the rest of the world that giving genocide fugitives cover can have consequences.

Rwandans also believe Malawi will continue making steps to ensure that other indicted fugitives, who were by last year over 10, on their soil are apprehended and brought back to Rwanda for trial.

At different fora, the Government of Rwanda, especially through the National Public Prosecution Authority, has pushed for pan-African solidarity in bringing to book genocide masterminds but little has been done.

Ironically, other continents like Europe have done better in this regard even if many continue to roam there, but they have apprehended a number of them, extradited them for trial or even tried them domestically.

There is hope therefore, in the recent developments from Lilongwe, that more African countries will do the needful to give an opportunity to Genocide survivors of seeing justice done in their lifetime so they have closure on their loved ones killed in the 100-day mayhem.

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