The arrest by Canadian authorities and subsequent trial and sentencing of Desire Munyaneza, by a Canadian court, marks an important step in the quest for justice for the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, an unprecedented atrocity that cost over one million lives.
Munyaneza, 42, was convicted in a Federal Court in Montreal, last May, on seven counts of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, which he committed in and around Butare during the Genocide.
Other countries which continue to shelter Genocide suspects, need to take a cue from Canada. They should apprehend, try or hand over the Genocide suspects to ICTR or Rwanda so that justice can be served.
This is necessary if the integrity of international justice is to be restored, and doing away with the pervasive culture of impunity.
Those who commit crimes against humanity should be warned that they can run but they cannot hide as witnessed in Munyaneza’s eventual fate.
Evidence presented in his two-year trial, proved beyond doubt that Munyaneza specifically intended to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group in Butare and in the surrounding communes.
Munyaneza entered Canada in 1997 and filed for refugee status which was rejected in 2000. Police arrested him in October 2005 in Toronto where he had been living with his wife and children.
His trial should help the western world reflect on the presence of Genocide fugitives on their territory and have them tried in courts of law, or deport them to Rwanda.
Munyaneza is the first person to be convicted under Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which took effect in 2000 and allows residents to be tried for war crimes committed abroad.
The trial should remove any hopes in the minds of those who might have wanted to use Canada’s legal system to seek asylum there and turn the country into a den of criminals.