As the world marks the international day of Commemoration genocide, Rwanda is calling for the international community especially countries hosting genocide fugitives to arrest, prosecute in their country or extradite them to fight genocide denial and end impunity.
This according to the experts would promote justice and end the culture of impunity hence leading to the prevention of genocide, its ideology and denial.
Experts made the call yesterday to mark the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
However, despite this, there is still a culture of impunity as nations are unwilling to arrest, prosecute within their jurisprudence or extradite them to face justice in the country.
Adopted in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (known as the “Genocide Convention”) defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
It states that to deter people from committing crimes of genocide, those responsible for such crimes need to be brought to justice and to fight impunity and establish a credible expectation that the perpetrators of genocide and related crimes will be held accountable to effectively contribute to a culture of prevention.
There are over 835 genocide fugitives who are still at large in various countries across the globe and this is an indication of reluctance and poor cooperation by those countries.
Dr Jean Damascène Gasanabo, the director of research and documentation at National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) said that it seems the world did not learnt anything from the Holocaust, and looked on as the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi was planned and executed and is still promoting the culture of impunity.
“If the United Nations adopted the UN convention (against Genocide) after the Holocaust and then in 1994 we experienced genocide against the Tutsi, there is a problem, it means that people never learn from the past, after the Holocaust it is likely that some people immediately forgot what happened,” he said.
He further added that despite genocide against the Tutsi being recognised and the nations have adopted to fight against its happening and committed to end the culture of impunity, little has been done to bring to justice genocide suspects who are at large in the region, continent and worldwide.
“To me what is lacking is political will because most of those countries are signatories of UN Convention and they know that they committed to collaborate and arrest, prosecute and judge those who committed genocide from their home countries or from other countries,” he said.
He stressed the need to continue advocacy in countries which habour genocide suspects and fugitives so as to bring them to book.
“Our message to the world is, let’s remember 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and fight its ideology, fighting its ideology is for example arresting those genocidaires who are at large in countries around the world.”
Gertrude Kazarwa, the president of Members of the Anti-Genocide Parliamentary Forum (AGPF-Rwanda) said countries should establish and implement laws criminalizing genocide and related crimes if impunity is to end.
She also said that there is need to encourage Rwandans especially the youth to understand the seriousness of genocide as they are the ones who are the future leaders of the country.
“I think that every country should establish laws criminalizing genocide and ensure they are implemented, countries have independent sovereignty but there is need for political will to own up to the genocide fight, its prevention and its denial, “she said.
“All parliaments should also have anti genocide forums and if there is a political will, it will be easy to establish and implement laws, media, both local and international should also play a role in fighting genocide and help fight impunity and encourage the world to act.”
Jean Bosco Siboyintore, the head of Genocide Tracking Unit at the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) said the international community still has a lot to do to fight the culture of impunity by helping bring to book all genocide fugitives.
It is not because the fugitives’ whereabouts are unknown but that the host countries are not cooperative, he said.
“Only 20 people have been tried. This is a very small figure and we are advocating for partner states to apprehend and bring to justice genocide suspects and fugitives,” he said.