Three human rights groups yesterday urged countries, among them; France, Belgium, The Netherlands, UK, Norway, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, DRC, USA and Canada, to support and cooperate with the (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) until all proceedings are closed and the remaining Genocide fugitives are brought to account.
The groups made the call just hours before ICTR officials were due to address the UN General Assembly to deliver the 15th annual report and update on its progress in achieving the targets of its completion strategy.
“We encourage all of these states to undertake the necessary steps to ensure that justice can be served,” reads part of a joint statement by African Rights, the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), and REDRESS, who have been working to encourage accountability for Genocide crimes globally.
“The ICTR annual report serves as a useful reminder that accountability for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, is not only a task assigned to the tribunal, but a responsibility for the international community as a whole”.
Taking note of efforts by countries like Belgium, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Finland and Canada, to investigate and prosecute suspected Genocidaires, the groups note that “a significant number of suspects, including those who allegedly played a key role in planning, organizing and executing the massacres,” continue to live in Europe, Africa and elsewhere.
“Many Genocide suspects remain in France. Approximately 20 cases of Rwandan suspects are currently pending before French investigative judges. Complaints were filed in 1995, for instance, against Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a priest who worked in Kigali, and the former governor of Gikongoro, Laurent Bucyibaruta, both residing in France,” reads part of the communiqué.
“Even though the European Court of Human Rights in 2004 condemned France for its delays in affording justice in the Munyeshyaka case, and despite France’s express assurance to the ICTR in 2007 that it is ‘willing and adequately prepared’ to prosecute the two accused persons, no notable progress has been made and the survivors’ calls for justice in both cases remain unheard,” the groups allege Other high profile suspects in France include Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana, and the current FDLR Secretary General, Callixte Mbarushimana.
Now listed as a terrorist group, the FDLR comprises of remnants of those who masterminded the 1994 Genocide and later fled to the DRC.
Mbarushimana continues to function, unrestricted, as spokesperson of the FDLR from Paris.
France is also considered to be “the country with the largest number of complaints against Genocide suspects currently pending before its national courts.”
The rights groups called upon France to fulfill the commitments it undertook when it accepted transfers to the ICTR, and to do all it can to respect the rights of victims to justice by no longer providing a sanctuary to those accused of the worst crimes.