• Neutral extradition country an option – Karugarama
DRC Justice Minister Luzolo Bambi Lessa Tuesday while discussing Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s fate, said that sufficient progress was made in the quest for “a justice that reconciles, and not a justice of vengeance.”
Lessa emphasized this with his Rwandan counterpart – Tharcisse Karugarama, after a meeting which was recommended last March to look into the legal complexities blocking Gen. Nkunda’s possible extradition to DRC.
“First of all, we had a fruitful working session. One must not forget that Rwanda and DRC are in the framework of normalizing our relations,” Lessa said.
He added: “Normalization is very important for our two countries for having a common vision, for building a better future for our children.”
He noted justice is the basis for strengthening the new, good or nascent relations between the two countries despite an “unfortunate problem – of Nkunda.”
During the discussion, they examined how the two countries’ laws can permit Nkunda’s extradition and guarantee human rights concerns.
“You have two laws or two regimes of laws being applied to one person. That normally creates what we call a conflict of laws. The legal complexities involved in this matter have to be examined,” Karugarama said, but noted that a legal framework under which the extradition can be done exists.
An existing extradition arrangement between the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi is this framework.
“The family of Nkunda is waging war in the courts and that has an impact on the speed at which examining the extradition request can take place because once there is one legal process going on, you can’t entertain another one. Those are delays,” ssaid Karugarama.
Lessa explained the type of justice they wanted was a; “a justice that reconciles and, not a justice of vengeance, the African justice,” he said referring to “justice under a tree,” an African traditional justice system.
“It may not conclude this evening but it might end tomorrow. We are in a mutual process and I don’t think it would be a good idea to press us with deadlines. What primarily preoccupies us is the normalization of relations between out two countries.”
Stressing that legal issues are not “an overnight affair,” like Lessa, Karugarama underlined that the extradition would take time.
“Our experts in law are examining all possibilities so that at the end of the day whatever we do in regard to Nkunda is legal and is supported by the existing legal regimes,” Karugarama said.
“The good thing is that the spirit of talking is positive. Both sides understand each others limitations as far as the existing law is concerned.”
• Amnesty and neutral country options
In searching for a decision “satisfactory to both sides of the border,” Karugarama noted that the amnesty process started in DRC too was being examined.
“We are examining another very important issue – can we place Nkunda in another third country? In another country that is not emotionally or physically or psychologically attached to Nkunda – one that we would call neutral – which is neither Congo nor Rwanda? a neutral country in which he could be placed and then negotiations continue.”