Court rejects Uwinkindi challenge of transfer law

The Supreme Court has ruled that the law regarding transfer of Genocide suspects to Rwanda does not discriminate against Pastor Jean Bosco Uwinkindi in any way.
Uwikindi’s seeming last attempt to stop his trial has failed after a constitutional interpretation. The New Times/ File.
Uwikindi’s seeming last attempt to stop his trial has failed after a constitutional interpretation. The New Times/ File.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the law regarding transfer of Genocide suspects to Rwanda does not discriminate against Pastor Jean Bosco Uwinkindi in any way.

The ruling follows a constitutional interpretation petition filed by Uwinkindi in December, last year, claiming that Article 1 of the transfer law discriminates against him.

Uwinkindi had said the article is unconstitutional because it contravenes articles 11, 16 and 19 of the Rwandan Constitution, which stipulate that all people are equal before the law.

The law was enacted to facilitate the transfer of Genocide suspects to Rwanda from either the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), or any other jurisdiction.

The law gives special concessions to suspects who are subject for transfer under this legislation, including their cases, to be heard on first instance by a specialised tribunal of the High Court.

Thus he argued that church leaders and the commune (former districts) leaders are tried by primary courts as per the law terminating the Gacaca jurisdictions.

The CJ’s ruling

He argued that by appearing before the Special Chamber of the High Court, the transfer law is denying him the right of appearing before a judge the constitution stipulates.

Uwinkindi also added that it negates his right to appeal.

The House Justice, Prof. Sam Rugege, said the transfer law differentiates suspects from ICTR and other countries to other suspects in the interest of equity.

Prof. Rugege said Article 1 of transfer law does not deny Uwinkindi the right of appeal, because in the High Court, parties in the trial still have the right to appeal and the law does not require a suspect to start trial in a primary court to have the right to appeal.

The court ruled that Uwinkindi’s claim was baseless.

Formerly a pentecostal church pastor in Kayenzi, Uwinkindi was transferred to Rwanda, last year, becoming the first suspect at the UN tribunal to be extradited to face justice over allegations of genocide crimes.

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