ARUSHA - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), for the first time, has referred the first suspect to Rwanda for trial.
Jean Uwinkindi, whose transfer was sanctioned by a special Referral Chamber, was arrested last year in Uganda on an ICTR indictment.He was subsequently transferred to the UN Detention Facility in Arusha.
According to a communiqué from the ICTR, the decision comes after the referral chamber assessed submissions of the Defence and other third parties that included the Government of Rwanda
“While previous Referral Chambers were not inclined to grant similar applications that had been placed before them, this Chamber was convinced based on the evidence that Rwanda possesses the ability to accept and prosecute Uwinkindi’s case,” the communiqué reads.
“In reaching its decision, the Chamber noted that Rwanda had made material changes in its laws and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by the ICTR adhering to internationally recognised fair trial standards enshrined in the ICTR Statute and other human rights instruments”.
The Tribunal found that issues like the availability of witnesses and their protection had been addressed to some degree in the intervening period. It requested that the Registrar appoint the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to monitor Uwinkindi’s trial in Rwanda.
John Bosco Siboyintore, the head of the Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit (GFTU), said that the Tribunal’s decision is very important.
“This decision is very important because it is the first of its kind and it is going to set precedent for other countries to follow.
The long arm of the law has brought back a genocide perpetrator to face trial in the same area where he committed atrocities,” said Siboyintore.
“The victims will see justice done – this decision sends a vibrant message to others still at large”.
Jean Pierre Dusingizimana, the president of IBUKA told The New Times that the Tribunal’s decision was “very good news” adding that he thinks that eventually, other cases will be transferred to Rwanda.
“In my opinion, I see that the necessary conditions are already fulfilled by Rwanda, for example, the prison facility of Mpanga. I visited it and don’t see no reason why it cannot receive people.
Even those from Sierra Leone are really okay,” He said, referring people convicted by the hybrid Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone who are serving their sentences here.
Who is Uwinkindi?
Uwinkindi, a former Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Kayenzi, located at Nyamata sector, Kanzenze commune, Kigali-Rural prefecture, was arrested in Uganda in June 2010.
He was born in 1951 in Rutsiro commune, Kibuye prefecture; he is accused of being responsible for attacks against the Tutsi at Kayenzi Church, at Biyimana and Rwankeri cellules, and in Cyugaro’s swamps.
His indictment included counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity.He was transferred to the UN detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania on 2 July 2010.