KIGALI - The Justice Ministers, Rwanda’s Tharcise Karugarama and his DRC counterpart Luzolo Bambi Lesa, yesterday met in Kigali over the pending issue of Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s transfer to the DRC.
The Ministers’ meeting is a follow up to one of the key recommendations made last March during a two-day bilateral talks between Rwanda and DRC Foreign Affairs Ministers; Rosemary Museminali and Alexis Thambwe Mwamba respectively in Kinshasa.
The Justice Ministers adopted three particularly important positions; one being that Nkunda is Congolese and has to be dealt with by the DRC judiciary for the crimes allegedly committed in the DRC but since he is on Rwandan territory then it was necessary to also apply Rwandan law.
“He (Nkunda) is on Rwandan territory and for that matter Rwandan law has to be applied with regard to the extradition request and process,” a subsequent communiqué states.
On the third issue the ministers also noted that, “Rwanda acknowledges receipt of the extradition request by the DRC of “Laurent Nkunda for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in DRC.”
The ministers also made some recommendations.
“That there be instituted a team of experts of the two countries that should convene a meeting within reasonable time to work on a legal framework that will consider the legal obstacles with regard to the transfer of Laurent Nkunda,” reads the communiqué.
The legal obstacles mentioned here include the possible impact of the amnesty law on DRC’s extradition request, the legal impediments embedded in the Rwandan law regarding extradition and the death penalty, as well as implications of the national, regional and international law on the extradition request.
In the March 27-28 usual ‘Four plus Four’ framework, it was recommended that Justice Ministers be brought in to provide legal advice on the Gen. Nkunda issue since legal complexities involving DRC and Rwanda over his transfer were observed.
The March meeting also recommended a Heads of State Summit to consolidate the achievements of the ongoing bilateral talks between the two countries.
The Foreign Ministers, in March, acknowledged the existence of legal complexities but stressed that these should not deter progress to resolving the issue.
“We believe that if we have been able to tackle other complexities, this part is only a small component in problems and we should be able to tackle it and move forward,” Museminali had asserted then.
The most current meeting follows several others, all meant to consolidate recent accomplishments on the war against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation Rwanda (FDLR) in the Eastern DRC.