Survivors highlight Gaps In Justice At ICTR

Genocide survivors have faulted the US for what they think is Washington’s soft stance with regard to ongoing cases at the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
L-R: IBUKA head Jean Pierre  Dusingizemungu,Mark Toner of the US State Department
L-R: IBUKA head Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu,Mark Toner of the US State Department

Genocide survivors have faulted the US for what they think is Washington’s soft stance with regard to ongoing cases at the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

They say the US should go beyond applauding the recent conviction of two former Rwandan leaders, and condemn the ‘shocking’ acquittals and ‘overly’ lenient sentences that the Arusha-based tribunal has rendered in the recent past.

The US, on Tuesday, said ICTR had taken a big step to providing justice for Rwandans, when it jailed for life the president and vice president of the party that supervised the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

On December 21, the tribunal handed life sentence to Matthieu Ngirumpatse, former MRND president and his vice, Edouard Karemera, for genocide crimes committed in 1994.

Nonetheless, Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of IBUKA, the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors’ association, Wednesday told The New Times that there seems to be some conspiracy, especially when some of the convicts get lesser sentences than they deserve.

Mid this month, Col. Théoneste Bagosora, a key architect of the Genocide, had his earlier sentence reduced from life to 35 years in prison, while Lt Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva, a former influential military commander, had a life sentence commuted to 15 years, and effectively won back his freedom as he had spent the same period in detention.

“Our main concern is that no one can alter the decisions of the court. There is nothing that the US government can do to change the court’s decision,” Dusingizemungu said.

“Praising the court rulings is ok, but it’s not enough; instead, they [US] should put pressure on the court so that it does a better job because it is clear that it has a serious weakness. The international community needs to ensure that the remaining cases are tried properly.”

In a statement released by US State Department, deputy spokesperson, Mark Toner, welcomed the MRND leaders’ ruling as “an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community”.

“The defendants were among the leadership of the dominant party in the interim government, the same party that established the Interahamwe militia, which played a leading role in the 1994 genocide,” he said.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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