Following revelation in the 2009/10 Human Rights report that Genocide suspect, Dr. Runyinya Barabwiriza, has been in jail for 16 years, without trial, Prosecution has announced that it is currently handling the case.
Barabwiriza was arrested in 1994 on charges of planning and participating in the Genocide.
His case was handled by Gacaca courts which put him the first category, consequently referring him to classical courts.
“This case was transferred to us by Gacaca but we would fully rely on the dossier handed to us by Gacaca, we are currently re-investigating the case and we are considering the fact that this person has been in jail for long,” said Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga.
He, however, distanced his office from Barabwiriza’s prolonged stay in prison, saying that his office cannot be held responsible for the delay.
Speaking to The New Times, Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, said that it was up to Parliament to decide since the National Human Rights Commission is an independent commission that it submits its report to the Parliament.
“The best way is to let the debate in parliament take its due course. That is how government institutions and organs function under the principle of checks and balances,” said the Minister
When Parliament debated the report, some MPs accused the National Human Right Commission (NHRC), for trying to promote impunity after advocating for the suspect’s release.
The report recommended that he should be released immediately without trial and be given reparations for the lengthy detention without trial.
MP Innocent Kayitare, expressed his concerns over the impact of NHRC’s recommendation claiming that it might influence a court decision or Barabwiriza can use it as evidence in court.
His intervention was immediately backed by MP Jean Thierry Karemera who questioned the credibility of the Commission.
“This case is still before court, if the commission desperately wanted to make a reaction, it would have used other channels but the report implies that the Commission has judicial powers to instruct a release of an individual,” said Karemera.
“Requesting for his release is one of the biggest mistakes this commission has made,” MP Ignatienne Nyirarukundo questioned.
However, in response to the MPs queries, the chairperson of NHRC, Sylvie Zainabu Kayitesi said that the reason as to why she highlighted Barabwiriza’s case in the report is because her commission believes he has a right to justice, in accordance to the law.
“His arrest warrant clearly stated the charges against him which implied that there was a specific court that would try him but his case kept rotating between the classical courts and Gacaca,” she said.
The same report that claims Barabwiriza has never appeared before any court contradicts itself by indicating that he appeared before the Gacaca court of Kacyiru in between February and April 2009 but the court ruled that it had no competence to try his case and transferred it to the Gacaca Court of Ngoma.
Following the presentation and debates on the human rights report, the parliament forwarded it to its Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and fight against Genocide which is expected to scrutinize it and make follow up on the issues raised in the report.