Following the ruling by the Special Referral Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a good precedence has been set, and should not only see more cases transferred to Rwanda from the tribunal, but also from other jurisdictions worldwide.
The decision was the first referral of a case involving a detainee at the UN court to the country where he is accused of committing crimes during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Jean Uwinkindi is a former pastor at the Pentecostal Church of Kayenzi, in Nyamata sector, in present-day Bugesera District, where he spearheaded the killing of thousands of Tutsis.
He was arrested early last year and transferred to the tribunal’s detention centre in Arusha, Tanzania. As a result, the ruling is likely to see most nations, notably in Europe,extradite to Rwanda the fugitives they have in detention to stand trial in local courts.
Many countries, despite having made efforts to apprehend fugitives indicted for their role in the Genocide against the Tutsi, have hitherto been reluctant to send them to Rwanda.
Rwanda, through vigorous reforms in the judiciary over the years, had,by the end of the last decade, the necessary infrastructure to meet international standards to try the Genocide crimes.
However, until the Special Referral Chamber ruling, Rwanda had been denied the right to try cases involving Genocide suspects arrested outside the country, owing to a smear campaign orchestrated by certain NGOs.
The latest ruling, therefore, serves as a vote of confidence in the Rwandan judicial system, and other countries should work to have the Genocide suspects in their jurisdictions transferred to Rwanda for trial.