KIGALI - Almost four years after the Office of the Prosecutor, through the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU) started issuing indictments against suspected perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, African countries have been accused of limited cooperation.
Since the establishment of GFTU in 2007, the office has issued indictments against 102 fugitives from various parts of the world, and these resulted into several arrests, especially in European countries.
“The indictments were sent to 25 countries, but it is surprising that of all the African countries to which we sent the indictments, we only realised two arrests in Uganda...none of the others have even bothered to send an investigative team here,” said the acting head of GFTU, John Bosco Siboyintore in an interview.
According to records from the Unit, the African countries where indictments were sent include Mozambique (11), Democratic Republic of Congo (9), Zambia (6) Malawi (4), Congo Brazzaville (1), Ivory Coast(1), Burundi(1), Gabon(1), and Tanzania(1), Siboyintore added that it is intriguing that, unlike the African countries, some European countries have responded by sending commissions here to establish the facts on the indictments, some of which have resulted into arrests.
“It is ironic that the Africans have showed little cooperation in this regard...they should at least tell us the reason they are not cooperating,” he said.
According to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, the little cooperation is disappointing.
“This is a disappointing situation but we are making headway with some countries like Mozambique...we shall continue pressing to get more countries to cooperate,” added Ngoga.
“At some point even myself or my colleagues have travelled to these countries to discuss the matter...it is a continuous process and we hope we shall reverse the trend”.
Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), suspects there could be corruption at play.
“We suspect that these people could be corrupting officials in their host countries to buy their freedom and this is possible because some of these fugitives are successful businessmen,” said Mucyo.
According to reports, most of the fugitives operate businesses across southern African countries mostly commuting between DRC, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, and some are suspected of running chain businesses in all these countries.
Prosecutors claim that they have even, through investigations, managed to identify the nature of these businesses.
“For some of these fugitives, we went as far as attaching their physical addresses to their indictments, complete with names of their businesses, so there wouldn’t be a problem locating them, especially those in southern Africa,” said Siboyintore, without revealing the suspects.
Meanwhile, since the establishment of the unit, several arrests have been made, especially in Western Europe but in most cases the suspects were released, on different grounds, and no extradition has since been effected.
“Much as these countries in Europe have been making arrests, we feel more should be done...we need to see justice dispensed. If they cannot extradite them to Rwanda, let them try them instead of releasing them, at times under unclear circumstances,” said CNLG’s Mucyo.
Siboyintore said that government, through the law promulgated to regulate the transfer of Genocide cases to Rwanda, provided various options to remove any barriers in extraditing fugitives.
He said that such options include guaranteeing immunity to defence witnesses who might want to travel to Rwanda to testify in favour of the suspect.
“The other option is the use of a video link facility that has been put in courtrooms at the High Court through which a witness can testify from any country he or she may be without coming to Rwanda,” said the Prosecutor.
Extradited suspects are tried on first instance by the High Court.
He said that the video link has since been used in two cases that took place outside the country, and witnesses gave their testimonies without having to travel to where the trials were held.
“The suspects were even cross-examining witnesses via the video link.”
The two cases where the facility was used involved Desire Munyaneza and Francois Bazaramba, who were tried in Canada and Finland respectively, and were both convicted and handed life sentences.
Meanwhile, Siboyintore said that there is another option of the presiding judge assigning a team that may travel to the countries to collect the testimonies of the witnesses.
In total, the GFTU has opened over 1,000 files of fugitives world wide.