The continued roaming of Genocide suspects in different countries is a major impediment to the healing process in Rwanda and countries should rise to the occasion and ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.
This was the message from Genocide survivors following the release of a dossier detailing the role played by Charles Ndereyehe Ntahontuye in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The dossier on the suspect was released Monday by the National Commission for the fight against the Genocide (CNLG).
Ndereyehe, who was an influential member of a group of elites who entrenched genocide ideology right from the early 1990s, and has been accused of mainly masterminding the Genocide in the former Butare prefecture, continues to live freely in The Netherlands.
During the Genocide, he was the director general of the agriculture research institute, ISAR, which was affiliated to the former National University of Rwanda.
“His role is undisputed; during Gacaca courts, several witnesses, including those with whom he carried out the massacres came forth and pinned him; evidence of his cruelty is all over and he should not continue to roam freely for over 24 years,” Naphtali Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of Ibuka, the umbrella for Genocide survivors told The New Times.
According to Ahishakiye, the fugitive has not only evaded accountability for his role in the Genocide, but also used The Netherlands as a platform to promote Genocide denial and carry forward the ideology of the same.
“The Netherlands is a country that over the years has demonstrated intolerance towards those responsible for the Genocide, at least going by their previous actions; they have made some extraditions and prosecution of fugitives; I, however, do not understand how a man like Ndereyehe remains in their midst for so long,” said Ahishakiye.
The Netherlands has already extradited to Rwanda two fugitives; Jean Claude Iyamuremye and Jean Baptiste Mugimba who were brought in November 2016 and their trials are going on at the Specialised Chamber for international crimes at High Court.
Dutch courts have also already tried different Genocide suspects, including Joseph Mpambara who, in July 2011, was sentenced to life for crimes he committed in Mugonero, in Western Rwanda, during the Genocide.
Another suspect, Yvonne Basebya Ntacyobatabara, was tried in the European country and sentenced to 6 years and 8 months following her conviction for crimes committed in Gikondo, a Kigali city suburb, during the Genocide.
Since 20 April 2010, Ndereyehe has been the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Rwandan courts and he is on an Interpol Red Notice.
Government, through CNLG, has called for either extradition or domestic trial of Ndereyehe. The same sentiments are shared by survivors.
“Our preference is having him extradited to face trial where those whose loved ones he got killed can follow the proceedings but in case they want to try him from there, then we have no objection,” said Ahishakiye.
Ndereyehe is a founding member of CDR – an extremist political organisation – and was part of the elite group that was at the helm of Genocide preparation and execution, according to a statement from the Commission.
During the Genocide, he is known to have worked with convicted genocidaire Captain ldelphonse Nizeyimana to organise trainings for militiamen on weapons handling at a former military school, ESSO in Butare.
Nizeyimana is serving a 35-year prison sentence after he was convicted of genocide crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
MP Henriette Sebera Mukamurangwa, who survived from the former Butare prefecture, now part of the Southern Province, said that the Dutch authorities have an obligation to ensure the suspect is brought to book.
“It is not just a moral obligation; they have a legal obligation to bring him to book because the crime of genocide knows no borders,” said Mukamurangwa, whose husband was among the first to be killed in Huye town.
She said that it is even of more concern when the same individual continues to perpetuate Genocide denial, saying that as members of parliament, they are working with other government bodies to put pressure on countries to criminalise denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“This is not entirely unprecedented; we have denial of genocides committed elsewhere criminalised in different jurisdictions and so this should be the case for the Genocide against the Tutsi,” said Mukamurangwa.
Ndereyehe is one of the leaders of the FDU-Inkingi, an unregistered political party with linked to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia.
In numerous press releases of the FDU-Inkingi that he publishes, Ndereyehe fiercely denies the Genocide committed against the Tutsi, preaches genocide denial and attacks the memory of this genocide by calling it a “business fund”.
In the Netherlands, Ndereyehe coordinates the activities of extremist groups of radical Rwandan exiles, nostalgic for an ethnic ideology that led to the genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994, according to the CNLG statement.
Among these groups are the FEDERMO (Federation of Rwandan Organisations in the Netherlands), CARP (Collective of Rwandan Associations in the Netherlands), RIFDP-NL (International Network of Women for Democracy and Peace), DEN HAAG, Pro Justitia, and FFDR (Foundation for Freedom and Democracy in Rwanda).