Hate crime convictions surging – Chief Justice

The rate of convictions related to genocide ideology has increased over the years as people are more willing to come forward to testify against suspects, Chief Justice Sam Rugege has said.
Defence minister James Kabarebe, State Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Evode Uwizeyimana (second right) and Chief Justice Sam Rugege (right) on a guided tour of Kigali Genocide memorial on Friday. The Chief Justice said more Rwandans were now willing to testify against suspects of hate crimes, resulting in a significant increase of convictions. Nadege Imbabazi
Defence minister James Kabarebe, State Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Evode Uwizeyimana (second right) and Chief Justice Sam Rugege (right) on a guided tour of Kigali Genocide memorial on Friday. The Chief Justice said more Rwandans were now willing to testify against suspects of hate crimes, resulting in a significant increase of convictions. Nadege Imbabazi

The rate of convictions related to genocide ideology has increased over the years as people are more willing to come forward to testify against suspects, Chief Justice Sam Rugege has said.

Prof. Rugege made the revelation on Friday at Kigali Genocide memorial at a function at which the staff from the Supreme Court, National Public Prosecution Authority, Ministry of Justice and Rwanda Law Reform Commission remembered former colleagues killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

 
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Rugege addresses mourners at Kigali Genocide memorial on Friday. Nadege Imbabazi

The event started with senior judiciary officials laying wreaths at a monument bearing the names of the victims.

 

The chief justice said that conviction rate involving suspects of genocide ideology went up from 64 per cent in 2011/12 to 82 per cent currently.

 

He said that 214 convictions were secured in 2011/12, with the number growing to 545 in 2015/16 and then 350 in the first half of 2016/17.

What it means is that more people now understand the dangers of genocide ideology and are reporting it, they are also braver in coming out to testify in courts so that the culprits get convicted,” he said.

The Chief Justice said unity and reconciliation efforts will continue while “those who want to return us to hate, division and destruction must be held accountable”

Rugege cited infrastructure development, improvement in the welfare of the people as well as gains in anti-poverty efforts, security, justice and human rights among the country’s achievements following the Genocide.

He issued a warning against people still harbouring genocide ideology and those who persecute or kill survivors or destroy their property insisting that the long hand of the law with catch up with them.

“We will continue to teach, especially children, but the elders who espouse genocide ideology and commit hate crimes will be brought to book,” he said.

Rugege urged Rwandans to embrace the spirit of ‘Rwandanness’ and shun any forms of sectarianism.

“Once we have all understood that we are Rwandans and need to join our hands to develop ourselves and country, the genocide ideology will be no more,” he said.

Defence minister James Kabarebe said that defeating the genocide ideology, which he said was indoctrinated by colonialists and subsequent regimes, was not an easy task since hate had been inculcated among Rwandans for decades.

“It had reached to a point where Tutsi thought they had no right to life while those persecuting them thought it was their fundamental right to do so,” he told the mourners.

Kabarebe urged Rwandans to fight genocide ideology to achieve unity and prevent ethnic-inspired killings in the future.

Prof. Rugege said remembrance should be an occasion to support the survivors, adding that recently the judiciary helped some survivors to attend university.

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