The Rwandan judiciary system has improved by 95 percent, recent reports from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicate, a result, of which pending genocide cases at the Arusha-based court may be transferred to the country.
“Our judges are convinced that Rwanda is 95 percent ready to handle the cases and who knows, soon it might be 100 per cent. Rwanda has done a lot to improve its legal system to meet international standards and at present, it is better than so many countries in Africa including my own country Cameroon,” said Jean Pele Fomete, a senior legal advisor at ICTR in charge of the Court Management Section.
He added that Rwanda’s judicial system had tremendously developed over the years surpassing so many other countries on the continent, saying that despite the country’s recent membership into the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the institution was borrowing a leaf from Rwanda’s judicial system.
Addressing the press last Thursday, Fomete said that the ICTR had been working closely with the government of Rwanda in building the capacity of its judicial system expressing optimism that soon cases would be transferred to Rwanda.
Transfer of cases was part of the completion strategy of ICTR by the end of next year as directed by the UN Security Council.
“The international law applies to Rwanda but it doesn’t apply to France Belgium and European countries that have the same clause in their law about life imprisonment. By conventional standards, it may take about 2,000 years to try genocide cases. As Rwandans, we want justice to prevail more than anybody else, I don’t see why anybody should have doubts about transferring genocide suspects to Rwanda,” Alloys Mutabingwa, Rwanda’s Special Representative to ICTR told the press last Wednesday.
He also pointed out that the system under which the transferred cases would be tried would be monitored independently to guarantee impartiality and that, therefore, it does not make sense to deny case transfers to Rwanda.
“It is far fetched to think that if there is that kind of commitment from Rwanda that it will not provide justice. Our submissions are public submissions that are subject to discussion under the court of law,” he said.
Five detainees currently in custody in Arusha are set to be transferred to Rwanda, although the ICTR Appeals Court has turned down transfer requests for three of them. The decisions on the two others are yet to be made.
There are 13 genocidaires on the most wanted list, who are still on the run. If they are not apprehended before the UN court closes, they will most likely face justice in Rwanda.
Transfer of cases to Rwanda, will allow the tribunal to clear a backlog of cases that are hindering the court from finishing all its scheduled trials, which, under UN Security Council Resolution 1503, have to be completed by the end of next year.