Judicial reforms impress Dutch minister

KIGALI - The visiting Dutch State Minister for International Cooperation, Dr. Ben Knapen, yesterday, said that he is impressed by the progress the country’s judicial system has registered.
Justice Minister Tharcise Karugarama (L) with Dutch State Minister for International Cooperation Dr Ben Knapen yesterday.(J Mbanda)
Justice Minister Tharcise Karugarama (L) with Dutch State Minister for International Cooperation Dr Ben Knapen yesterday.(J Mbanda)

KIGALI - The visiting Dutch State Minister for International Cooperation, Dr. Ben Knapen, yesterday, said that he is impressed by the progress the country’s judicial system has registered.

Speaking to the press after holding talks with the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, Knapen said that a lot of important things have been done to develop the sector and The Netherlands, as one of the biggest supporters, is impressed.

He added that he had an “interesting” discussion on the progress of the judicial system in Rwanda he was grateful to know that a lot of important things have been done.

“We participated in the construction of courthouses and the construction of a state-of-the-art prison here and now we are involved in training of judges,” Knapen said.

“It is something that makes us all feel proud because we are part of this and there is progress,” he added.

Knapen added that he also discussed with the Justice Minister on a range of issues which all have a direct connection to an independent judiciary.

“We figured out that given the history of this country and given the sensitivities of many issues, the government always has to strike a balance between taking the sensitivity into account on one hand, and on the other hand opening up the country for free public debate as much as possible,” he said

“We had a good debate on that and we are looking forward to cooperate on that in the future, and I do trust that people in this country will benefit from the drive the Minister has, to make sure that the judiciary is independent, professional to the satisfaction of the people,” he added

The Dutch Minister said that the two governments are still working closely following the signing a letter of intent that would see genocide suspects extradited to Rwanda.

He, however, said that some cases remain “technically” difficult to handle.

“A year ago, we signed a letter of intent in order to come to an extradition agreement, we are still working on that,”

“We have made some substantial progress, but from a legal point of view, it is a very technical and precise procedure, so we are still working on that,”

The Dutch Minister said that the extradition will depend on what the Dutch government sees and observes, adding that he is confident that the two countries will make the progress needed.

Knapen revealed that the Dutch Government is considering cutting development aid to several countries and is currently prioritising which ones to maintain, but admitted that Rwanda is among those that have impressed with socio-economic progress.

Karugarama said that Knapen, as an individual, was impressed but some of the major decisions by the government, adding that the Minister will be the one to deliver the message to his government.

“Whether it is Minister Knapen or the Minister of Justice who visited last year, we do see the will on the ministerial level, for example regarding extraditions,” he said.

“But there is the Dutch Parliament that has to decide whether these extraditions are effected. We are not putting them under any pressure, we will see what happens. We are optimistic because they tell us there is progress,” Karugarama said 


He said that the Rwandan government requested the Dutch Government to be the first to effect the extraditions and set an example for the other European countries which harbour genocide suspects.

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