Dozens of Rwandan key Genocide perpetrators continue to live in Europe, particularly in France. Too often they live with total impunity, without being troubled by justice.
During the course of the Genocide against the Tutsi, these masterminds not only killed innocent lives, tortured, raped, they looted the money from public coffers which they used to hide in far-flung countries.
These people roaming European streets are not “little helping hands” of the Genocide; they are amongst its masterminds. A number of them are subject to international arrest warrants or have already been convicted for Genocide or complicity in Genocide by the Rwandan justice system.
For more than twenty years, the Catholic Church, in many ways, has been accused of shielding some of these fugitives, especially those men of the robe that turned the sword on their flock.
These non-repentant priests have also been allowed to continue preaching the word of God, a case in point being Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, who continues with his clerical work in France.
More so, for more than twenty years, several key Genocide perpetrators have been living in France and they are not there by chance: it was the French army that exfiltrated and covered the escape of those who had just organised and perpetrated the extermination of more than one million Tutsi in 1994.
This was one of the key moments of the policy of collaboration between France and the genocidal regime in Rwanda, a relationship that continued throughout and after the Genocide, when these genocidaires had fled the country.
This well established relationship was assented to and maintained at the highest level by politicians from both the right and the left, within the French political set-up.
The impunity that these masterminds of the Genocide continue to enjoy in countries such as France is today the last obstacle towards the reconstruction process that the post-Genocide state of Rwanda has embarked on and done very well.
Despite the reconstruction effort, people, especially survivors of the Genocide, cannot normalise when the people who orchestrated the killings of their loved ones remain out of reach of the arm of justice.
As a matter of fact, due to the exceptional and unprecedented efforts of the Rwandan population and institutions since 1994, several hundreds of thousands of Genocide perpetrators were judged in the Gacaca courts, a semi-traditional judicial system that was specifically introduced to deal with the incomparable backlog of Genocide cases that would have taken hundreds of years in ordinary courts.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has judged some of the highest ranking perpetrators. For those that remain free, this lasting impunity constitutes for the survivors an additional suffering.
For the youth of Rwanda and Europe, this remains an obstacle in their projection towards a shared future.
For all, it is an inexcusable injustice and a scandalous infringement of the rule of law.
Our demand is simple: an end to impunity for Genocide perpetrators and their accomplices.
In respecting rigorously the separation of powers, a fundamental for democracy which we cherish, all governments must elaborate and effectively apply a criminal law policy.
It is high time that all countries implicated, first and foremost France, put the prosecution, the extradition to Rwanda or trial in their place of residence for Genocide perpetrators and their accomplices at the heart of the priorities of this criminal law policy, so that justice is finally served.
It is imperative to consider the end of impunity for Genocide perpetrators and their accomplices for what it is: a moral, human, social, political, historical and therefore judicial urgency.
This is the responsibility of our generation to ensure that they are judged, in order to offer to the next generations the possibility to create together an “imbere heza” (a good future).
The writer is President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM).
Founded in November 2010 in Paris, EGAM says its main objective is to answer the rise in racism, antisemitism and populism in Europe and to structure civil society’s commitment to equality and justice.