It is definitely a world lesson in Karma that Leon Mugesera will most likely be on trial in Rwanda during the 18th Commemoration on the Genocide against the Tutsi. If this isn’t a fitting reminder that the truth ALWAYS prevails, then I don’t know what is. Importantly, this is an apt example of the doctrine of inevitable consequence – Karma.
Eighteen years after he landed in Canada, Mugesera’s return to Rwanda on its 18th Genocide Commemoration reads like a script written by the gods of fate.
What I am curious of, is how he had the energy to continue his legal gymnastics to avoid justice for close to two decades. His background as a philosopher and linguist make him fully aware of the crime he was committing; spewing hate speech and promoting ethnic ideology. It must be colossal levels of cowardice to engage in a battle one knows they will eventually lose.
It must also be a psychiatrist’s dream to dissect the inner workings of a defense lawyer’s mind, who will stop at nothing to protect the interests of their clients, even though all evidence points to guilt; guilt such as that of Mugesera’s. But, I digress. Another topic for another day.
That this 18-year battle came to a close, illustrates (though long overdue) an international vote of confidence in Rwanda’s development and thoroughness of its judicial and penal systems.
Still, what particularly irked me during these legal and sometimes comedic series of events organised by Mugesera and his legal team, was the inclusion of the United Nations Committee Against Torture to review the case and evaluate whether Mugesera risked being tortured by Rwandan authorities.
It was an offence to logic how part of an international body which did nothing to prevent the deaths of one million Rwandans during the 1994 Genocide, was more or less stalling the justice process of one of the architects of this tragic event, eighteen years later.
How convenient it must have been to overlook Rwanda’s 2008 status as a willing signatory to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
If torture was a viable reason to stall Mugesera’s return to face justice in Rwanda, it needs to be explained why torture and retribution were not instrumental in the 1.5 million cases tried in the Gacaca Traditional Court System. Reconciliation was.
I’m just glad that Mugesera’s arrival in Rwanda will bring justice and a sense of closure to many genocide survivors and families of victims. Importantly, it is encouraging to see Rwanda taking her place at the table, taking ownership of her justice system and consistently telling the world that it is more than capable of fairly trying war criminals, even its own.