Dutch military officials hail Rwanda’s judicial system

KIMIHURURA- Three officials from the Netherlands army yesterday commended the country’s judicial system saying there is a lot to learn from Rwanda’s unique military judiciary. The trio which is on a one week official visit made the remarks during a visit to the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Kimihurura.
The visiting Dutch military delegation exchanging notes with their Rwandan counterparts at the Ministry of Justice yesterday. (Photo/ J Mbanda)
The visiting Dutch military delegation exchanging notes with their Rwandan counterparts at the Ministry of Justice yesterday. (Photo/ J Mbanda)

KIMIHURURA- Three officials from the Netherlands army yesterday commended the country’s judicial system saying there is a lot to learn from Rwanda’s unique military judiciary.

The trio which is on a one week official visit made the remarks during a visit to the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Kimihurura.

Colonel Ben Klappe, a board member of the Dutch military praised the country’s strong professional military adding that the trio will asses and determine areas in which they (Dutch officials) can build capacities to boost Rwanda’s military force.

“We learnt from your (Rwanda’s) Chief of Army that once a crime in one unit of the army repeats itself over and over again, then the commander of that unit gets to be counseled. This is a sign of responsibility,” Klappe said.

In his presentation, the President of the High Court, Johnston Busingye gave a detailed story of the country’s judicial progress highlighting the major chambers of the system that have made it a strong institution today.

“In our judiciary system, we have Abunzi (mediation committees), primary courts, intermediary courts, high court and the supreme court.

The highest organ is the superior council which is in charge of appointments, discipline, transfers and overseeing conduct of judges.”

“The relationship between military and civilian prosecution is that the two support each other and so far it is official. Both of them use the same penal code.

If two people commit a crime and one is serving the military, the law says that such a case will go to military courts,” Busingye explained.

Lkol Jacques T. A van Haalen from the Netherlands added: “I am really astonished that I found a system that is so professional with military courts and well trained prosecutors.”

On the issue of collaborating to track down genocidaires that are still roaming the Netherlands streets, Klappe underscored that the Hague is ensuring that these people are traced so that justice prevails.

“We have however cited a few areas that we will collaborate to improve such as establishment of military disciplinary law in Rwanda.

With the great experience that most of our commanders have, we intend to bring some legal advisers here for this purpose,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Dutch military delegation met with their counterparts in the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) to discuss the issue of cooperation in military justice.

The meeting at RDF headquarters in Kimihurura brought together Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, the acting military prosecutor general Capt. Kayijuka Ngabo and others with the Dutch delegation led by Klappe.

“The purpose of my visit this week is to make an assessment, as in what ways the army legal service of the Netherlands could contribute, could cooperate with the military legal system you have in place here,” Klappe told reporters shortly after the meeting.

“We have continued our meetings with the Permanent Secretary and with the chief of the army to see if there are ways that we can learn from each others’ experiences in military criminal law, military disciplinary law and operational law.”

In the five-day tour, the visitors will also visit Mutobo Demobilisation centre and the Gako-based military facility.
“I am sure that in the near future we hope to train more of your military lawyers in Amsterdam,” said Klappe.

Ngabo told The New Times that cooperation with the Dutch military in legal issues dates one year back.

“It has been agreed that from this year on, we will have at least two people attending the Masters studies in law in the Netherlands, every year,” said the acting military prosecutor.

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