KIGALI-The Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, yesterday told African prosecutors that if they work closely together, Africa will eradicate impunity.
Karugarama, who is also the Attorney General, made the remarks while opening the sixth annual Africa Prosecutors Association’s conference yesterday in Kigali.
He emphasised the need for cooperation among African prosecution authorities.
“Eradication of impunity is possible in Africa by Africans themselves working together as a team. This does not mean that we should do away with the global effort to fight crime, It is rather a way of establishing domestic continental mechanisms to deal with crimes without necessarily looking for solutions beyond the continent’s borders,” he said.
Karugarama added that it was imperative for African nations to put in place mechanisms to resolve issues arising from the continent through cooperation and exchange of best practices.
“If we move with a shared vision and cooperation, we can make Africa a dangerous place for criminals,” he said.
The Minister told the prosecutors: “Go ahead therefore, prosecute crimes, make sure fugitives in your country have sleepless nights, and let them not enjoy safe havens in your respective countries. Criminals all over, especially those accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, should have no breathing space anywhere on the African continent”.
Karugarama went on to say that for Africa to succeed in eradicating impunity, it must ensure that everyone has equal rights to justice.
“Access to quality justice is the cornerstone of our justice delivery in Rwanda. So far, we have Access to Justice centres in all the 30 districts across the country. Every centre is staffed with three lawyers who provide free legal aid to vulnerable people. This makes it affordable and ensures that justice is not only for the rich,” the minister said.
The president of the Africa Prosecutors Association, Olyvia M. Imalwa, also emphasised the need for cooperation among African justice systems saying it was a way of ensuring equitable delivery of justice.
The Prosecutor General of Rwanda, Martin Ngoga said: “With the emergence of new forms of crime and the convergence of the world as a global village, we have no choice but to work together…and Rwanda will spare no efforts towards the attainment of this goal”.
The South African National Director for Public Prosecution, Simelani Menzi, called on his colleagues to ensure professionalism.
“The case of Rwanda, particularly how the Genocide cases have been handled, clearly indicates that there is indeed justice and access to justice. It is a testimony to the determination of people to ensure that dignity should, at all times, be maintained,” he said.
The three day conference has drawn several African chief prosecutors to forge ways of strengthening their cooperation to ensure that fugitives are brought to justice.