KIGALI - Prime Minister Bernard Makuza has lashed out at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for continuously undermining Rwanda’s efforts in advancing its judicial reforms and accused the tribunal of frustrating the country’s requests for extradition.
Makuza made the remarks while opening the fifth colloquium of prosecutors from international criminal tribunals yesterday at Serena hotel.
The Premier took a swipe at the Arusha-based tribunal for particularly refusing to transfer to Rwanda cases of persons accused of committing genocide, saying that this has undermined the confidence of the Rwandan people.
“The ICTR trial and appeals chambers have found reasons to deny any transfer of cases to Rwanda, thereby undermining our trust and confidence while at the same time negatively influencing our extradition requests into European Union countries,” Makuza told the international prosecutors.
The Prime minister told his audience that the government’s judicial reform has been an ongoing process that includes reforms aimed at facilitating the transfer of cases from ICTR and other states seeking to extradite wanted fugitives to Rwanda for trial.
Citing the recent transfer to Rwanda of eight convicts from the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Makuza wondered why the ICTR has up to now refused to transfer some of its convicts to complete their sentences in Rwanda.
Despite an earlier agreement signed with Rwanda, the ICTR in July this year transferred nine convicts to Benin while over a dozen have since been sent to Mali.
The Prime Minister challenged the delegates at the three-day colloquium to seriously consider the emerging impunity gap resulting from the adverse decision and ensure that the gap is effectively closed.
ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said that although his office has still failed to secure any transfer of cases to Rwanda, it welcomes the reforms and capacity building measures undertaken by the country in its legal system.
“We will consider submitting to ICTR judges new requests for transfer early in the New Year once some additional capacity building measures are implemented,” Jallow said.
The Prosecutors yesterday visited the Kigali Memorial Centre and are expected to also visit Murambi Genocide memorial, Southern Province on Friday.