African governments blamed on fugitives

KIGALI - One year after the Rwandan government appealed to the international community to apprehend and try or extradite to Rwanda wanted Genocide fugitives, African nations have done little, according to Prosecutor General’s Office.

KIGALI - One year after the Rwandan government appealed to the international community to apprehend and try or extradite to Rwanda wanted Genocide fugitives, African nations have done little, according to Prosecutor General’s Office.

The call was made in July last year through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which presented a list of 93 indicted Genocide suspects to members of the diplomatic corps.

“We have got some positive reaction from European countries after the publication of the list but no single African country has made any arrest or even sent judicial officials to look for some information on the fugitives,” John Bosco Mutangana, the prosecution spokesman said in an exclusive interview yesterday.

He is also the head of a taskforce put in place by the Office of the Prosecutor General to track 1994 Genocide fugitives. Some of the countries that made arrests following the appeal are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Canada.

France arrested two key fugitives – Roman Catholic Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and former prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta – but later released them on bail on grounds that their arrest warrants were not well prepared.

“Others sent judicial officers to make preliminary investigations including the United States and New Zealand,” added Mutangana.

According to prosecution, no arrest of Genocide fugitives has been made by any African country for nearly a decade now even when most of the wanted fugitives are believed to be living on the continent.

Besides Kigali, the UN-sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Arusha, Tanzania and the International Police (Interpol) have urged countries to apprehend the suspects.

Mutangana said that there are some African countries that have been turned into dens of genocidaires giving an example of Southern African states where fugitives move freely. He said some of these wanted criminals go about their business ventures unrestrained, while others are in various professional careers.

“For insistence in Mozambique; we issued eight indictments containing details of the fugitives including their physical addresses but it is almost four months and no action has been taken.”

He said that a number of suspected masterminds of the Genocide move freely from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Malawi or Zambia where they run their businesses.

Available information indicates that those fugitives have established businesses in those countries. Last year, one Callixte Gakwaya who was working as a defense attorney at ICTR was arrested in Tanzania on Genocide charges but skipped bail and flew to Mozambique. 

“We are aware that Rwanda does not have extradition treaties with most of those countries but the government should champion special arrangements like memorandums of understanding between Rwanda and those countries to secure the arrests,” Mutangana added. He said:

“Rwanda does not have any extradition treaty with the UK but a memorandum of understanding was signed and extradition is in process.”

Four fugitives were arrested in UK earlier this year and the hearing for their possible extradition is expected to resume next month. Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande, said that African countries have to some degree been cooperative. 

“The fact that no arrest has been made since last year’s call is not surprising because those states cannot start picking people by roadside with no charges leveled against them,” Murigande said yesterday.

He said that for Mozambique, the files were sent and both countries are in talks to have the wanted fugitives extradited, adding that the only impediment was lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

He said that Murigande said that countries like Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Congo Brazzaville, and Kenya have been cooperative in this regard. 

But prosecutor Mutangana said: What we normally do with such people is to channel their indictments through Interpol which in turn places those people on red notice. This has worked in Europe because Finland arrested Francois Bazaramba in reaction to the red notice. We didn’t know where he was at the time we wrote his indictment.”

And Justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama said that the reason Rwanda does not have extradition treaties with many countries is because ‘by nature, these treaties are reciprocal’.

“Normally countries expect something in return.

They expect you to have fugitives running away from their jurisdiction and unfortunately, Rwanda needs to have such treaties with all the countries since Rwandan fugitives are many in different countries. That is the problem we are facing,” he said.

Last month Rwanda repealed death penalty from her legal books, a move that is expected to encourage many countries to extradite wanted Genocide suspects to stand trial in Rwandan courts of law.

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