Rwanda was last Friday honoured by the United Religions Initiative (URI) for its efforts at promoting national reconciliation and unity.
The award received through the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, (NURC), recognises Rwanda’s efforts at uniting a country that has endured years of divisions that led to the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.
However, efforts to promote national reconciliation must be accompanied by those aimed at finding justice against the perpetrators of the genocide.
That way those who were wronged can find peace, while doing away with a culture of impunity.
In the search for justice, an important case was last week heard in the courts, that of Agnes Ntamabyariro, the former Justice Minister accused of planning and inciting genocide.
Ntamabyariro, is also accused of distributing weapons and the assassination of former governor Jean Baptiste Habyarimana. These are grave charges.
However aggrieved the government of Rwanda maybe over the lives lost during the genocide, Ntamabyariro, has been accorded a fair trial and given security by the State.
This is the first case of its nature to be tried in the local courts.
A firm basis upon which Rwanda can effectively deal with cases to be transferred from the Arusha based, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The ICTR has so far over the past 14 years only finalised trials of 36 cases out of 51 genocide suspects arrested so far.
In order to close this chapter in Rwanda’s history it is important that all cases be expedited and those proved guilty be brought to account.
The ICTR agrees that Rwanda’s judiciary has improved tremendously, therefore having the capacity to handle genocide cases.
Efforts to find peace and reconciliation can never be completed without justice as a major component.