IN THE just concluded international conference convened by Interpol and the Rwanda National Police on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Intepol explained the challenges they face in tracking down, arrest and helping in deportation or extradition of international crime suspects, including persons accused of masterminding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Of the 200-plus red notices with respect to Genocide fugitives Interpol has issued over the years, only 40 arrests have been made. This statistic might sadden Rwandans, but Stephano Carvelli, the head of fugitive investigative support at Interpol, says it is a major milestone given the challenges.
That Interpol should call this measly figure a “major milestone” tells a lot about the challenges. But the question not pondered is: can Interpol curb these bottlenecks and get these suspects? Our answer is ‘yes’.
Among the challenges, Interpol cites difficulty in tracing suspects of yesteryear who have since changed their identities and integrated into new societies with seemingly innocent images, lack or slow pace of cooperation, and the legal gymnastics in host countries.
These are plausible reasons. But they cannot be left for the archives to stock as “Interpol having said this and that.”
Instead, the world crime-fighting agency must ensure more efforts are channeled toward curbing these challenges. No criminal should walk freely because authorities tasked with bringing them to answer for their deeds are facing difficulties.
Acknowledging challenges is the best way to reconcile with mandate. Interpol should up the ante so that five years from now, they should not be telling the world the same challenges still exist.
Carvelli told the summit in Kigali that it is the responsibility of Interpol to facilitate the collection of information even of suspects who committed crimes 20 or more years ago. And, since he said Interpol is up to the task, the international organization should walk the talk so that suspects and fugitives are held accountable for their crimes.
If policing agencies fully cooperate in tracking down Genocide fugitives that figure 40 could even be doubled in a year. Rwandans dream of such a “major milestone.”