Earlier this week, Leopold Munyakazi, who was being pursued by Rwandan justice for his involvement in the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994, was finally extradited to Rwanda from the United States.
His extradition came after years of a spirited campaign by different groups like Genocide survivors, Prosecution and the National Commission for the fight against the Genocide (CNLG), detailing his role in the Genocide in which over a million innocent people were killed.
Most specifically, on September 23, 2015, CNLG released a statement that extensively documented the role played by Munyakazi in the Genocide and its denial, which he continued to perpetuate during the 12 years he had lived in the US.
The case of The Netherlands
Leopold Munyakazi’s extradition is an opportunity to remind the Dutch authorities that they should follow this example by proceeding unconditional extradition of two Genocide masterminds, Jean-Baptiste Mugimba and Jean Claude Iyakaremye, so that they can have their day in court.
Their extradition was confirmed by the Court of Appeal of The Netherlands in July 2016 but execution of this judgment has been protracted.
Some organisations and individuals have been doing their best to impede execution of the extradition order although concerned people were extremely involved in the planning and execution of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
I want to bring the readers of this newspaper to the attention of the crimes these two men, currently in The Netherlands, stand accused of.
Mugimba was born in 1956 in the Commune of Mutura, Rwanda.
A former employee of the National Bank of Rwanda, he was the Secretary General of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), an extremist political party that partook in the organisation and execution of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994.
Mugimba organised and participated in numerous Tutsi killings in the neighbourhoods of Nyamirambo, Nyarugenge and areas of Nyakabanda Kimisagara, Biryogo and other areas in the City of Kigali.
On April 8, 1994, Mugimba held a meeting to plan Genocide in his own home in Nyakabanda in Nyarugenge District, during which he drew up lists of Tutsi living in Nyakabanda, a document that was used by Interahamwe militiamen.
He openly distributed weapons to the killers, established and supervised several roadblocks in the same areas of Kigali.
On 23 January 2014, Mugimba was arrested under an arrest warrant issued by Rwanda on November 22, 2012 and has since been fighting his extradition so that he can be brought to account.
Likewise, Jean-Claude Iyamuremye, better known as Nzinga, has been in custody of Dutch police since July 9, 2013, having been arrested on a warrant issued by Rwandan prosecution.
He is charged with having led militiamen in the killings of Tutsi who had fled to the Ecole Technique Officielle de Kicukiro (ETO Kicukiro) in the present day Kicukiro District.
The extradition to Rwanda of several Genocide suspects from different jurisdictions demonstrates the substantial progress made by the Rwandan judiciary in respect of the right to fair trial, as well as other rights.
Some detractors have tried to frustrate the extradition of suspects giving a number of flimsy reasons, including one that is well used by the Genocide perpetrators and their cronies, that the charges against them are political.
I want to bring you to the attention of Article VII (seven) of the Genocide Convention: “Genocide and other acts enumerated in article III shall not be considered as political crimes for the purpose of extradition.”
The acts for which the Rwandan suspects (Munyakazi, Mugimba, Iyakaremye and others) are pursued are not political. They are not based on ethnic origin; these are crimes under the law which suspects must account for before legally established courts.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda set a precedent when it transferred to Rwanda the likes of Bernard Munyagishari, Jean Uwinkindi and Ladislas Ntaganzwa; while Canada extradited Leon Mugesera; Norway extradited Charles Bandora and Denmark extradited Emmanuel Mbarushimana.
These examples prove that Western countries have confidence in the justice of Rwanda.
The systematic rebuff of some nations, such as France, to extradite Genocide suspects to Rwanda does not rely on any valid legal basis, and this is, without detour, a trivialisation of the genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
In brief, the extradition of Leopold Munyakazi to Rwanda is a step that should inspire other states as well, to take part in the fight against impunity by extraditing the suspects to Rwanda.
And, if they cannot extradite them, the least they can do is trying them before their own courts of law.
The writer is the Executive Secretary, National Commission for the fight against Genocide