Keeping Ndahimana gives the ictr one more excuse

Last week, media reports stated that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was considering dragging the Democratic Republic of Congo to court over the delayed transfer of a Genocide fugitive, Gregoire Ndahimana, who was arrested in DRC.

Last week, media reports stated that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was considering dragging the Democratic Republic of Congo to court over the delayed transfer of a Genocide fugitive, Gregoire Ndahimana, who was arrested in DRC.

While no definite  reasons have so far been given for the delay, rumours doing the rounds state that the delay is being either caused by ‘someone’ wanting to  cash in on the US State Department monies put on Ndahimana’s head or some political Machiavellianism being played by those that want to barter him for Laurent Nkunda.

This is not the first time a country has been reluctant to hand over a Genocide suspect for trial. And it definitely reiterates the need for governments to urgently address issues of Genocide criminals still at large; issues that have been raised by the Kigali government time and time again.

It is almost hypocritical for countries to keep saying they don’t condone impunity while, at the same time, failing to arrest suspects who have been indicted or refusing to hand-over those arrested.

In the DRC, I appreciate the efforts being made to dislodge FDLR rebels. However, decisions of extradition, difficult as they may be, must always be made urgently in the interest of expediting justice.

I’m particularly concerned by what’s going on because these are the things that give ICTR yet another lame excuse for their slow progress, where disposing of cases is concerned.

Years after its creation to try perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the tribunal is facing public backlash over its snail-paced performance. It’s of little wonder that the impression most Rwandans have of the court is one of ineffectiveness.

Rwandans cannot understand how such a well-facilitated court can dispose of only about 40 cases over the years, yet the traditional courts called Gacaca, have disposed of hundreds. The tribunal staff is getting free money, in my opinion.

There remains very limited time for the tribunal to prove that it was, indeed, successful, but the same court is now dragging its feet over the transfer of other suspects to be tried in Rwanda.  It’s no wonder that the ICTR is viewed in a negative manner.

Kinshasa should let this tribunal sink or swim, without giving it another excuse by denying it the indicted suspect. Anything that makes suspects elude justice is a bad thing - how else will perpetrators be punished?

It’s well known that there are many suspects still at large, especially in Europe and for the Kigali and survivors, who experienced the atrocities, they just keep wondering, “why”?

I don’t criticise the ‘Rewards for Justice’ program, but it sounds mad though, that countries will be paid for arresting suspects. As long as Genocide is crime against all humanity, I really couldn’t care about people not being paid.

It would be a brilliant idea for countries to agree on free transfer of indicted suspects arrested on their ground, in return for a binding commitment from them on their own suspects.


jtasamba@gmail.com

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