The vow ‘Never Again’ is empty if it does not come with justice for those who suffered the heinous crimes in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.
Over the past days, issues to do with justice have thus been central to conversations reflecting on the genocide in which over a million people died 15 years ago.
Notable in the same conversations has been the wide acknowledgement that Rwanda’s traditional Gacaca Courts, have been more successful in dispensing justice to the local communities.
The courts are lauded for having been pivotal to the healing and reconciliation processes at community level. This acknowledgement is especially made by renowned visiting academics and researchers on transitional justice issues, from key institutions internationally.
By far their opinion of the performance of the UN mandated International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha on a multi-billion USD budget, cannot be compared to the achievements of the Gacaca Courts.
One is therefore baffled by some judges in the United Kingdom who claim that four men accused of genocide will not have a fair trial in Rwanda.
The judges one can hasten to add have never set foot in Rwanda, putting into question the practical basis upon which this judgment has been made.
They rule that there is, “real risk they would suffer a flagrant denial of justice.”
The four Vincent Bajinya, reported to have changed his name to Brown, Celestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Charles Munyaneza were arrested in London, Essex, Manchester and Bedford respectively.
These four are part of the thousands of killers who fled the Rwanda after the genocide seeking safe havens elsewhere, many found their way to Europe, Canada and the USA.
What is so special about these four men that they will be denied justice in Rwanda when so many have under the Gacaca Courts?
What makes their crimes anymore painful than other perpetrators who have since been embraced back in society?
The judgment by Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Sullivan, smacks of the hypocritical tendencies among those in western countries in building negative perceptions and stereotypes of African institutions and processes.
The judgment also smacks of the revisionism agenda. There exists insidious attempts to re-write Rwanda’s history where they would want to equate those who suffered the genocide to the perpetrators, an absurdity that can never happen in the UK itself. But then Rwanda is in Africa.
Often the narrative is based on very narrow historical notions rooted in colonialism that over glorify western justice systems.
And so what we are dealing with in this ruling is a reflection of prejudices and negative perceptions inherent among the less informed on Rwanda, within the British society and sadly, they are also found in the courts.