The Swedish government announced a landmark decision that it will extradite a Rwandan fugitive to face charges on Genocide and other crimes against humanity committed during the 1994 slaughter.
Sylvere Ahorugeze, 53, has been in Swedish custody since last July, accused of participitating in the extermination of 25 people in Kigali City.
When he was arrested, Rwanda demanded that the suspect be extradited to face charges for his role in planning and carrying out the killings.
And earlier this year, the Swedish Supreme Court said it did not see any legal reasons for Sweden not to extradite Ahorugeze. Yesterday, the Swedish government went a step further and announced it will extradite the suspect within the next 45 days.
This has marked an unprecedented move in the history of Rwandan Genocide trials. For many years, the Rwandan government has called upon countries where these fugitives have found sanctuary, to arrest and extradite them.
Government has gone ahead to amend its laws, including one abolishing the death penalty, and has put in place all the necessary amenities in order to have these criminals transferred.
Genocide survivors have described as “double agony” failure on the part of the world to enforce these transfers. They have dismissed as “hogwash” justice delivered hundreds of kilometres away.
Rwanda has argued that if justice is to serve as a deterrent to similar future crimes, then justice has to be delivered on the soils from which the crimes were committed.
But much of Rwanda’s plea and that of Genocide survivors has been falling on deaf ears of many Western powers, including Sweden’s neighbour Finland.
Most unfortunate, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has also been in the fray, denying transfers of these fugitives to stand trail here.
But now a major breakthrough has come from Sweden. Rwanda will seize this moment to prove to the world that her justice system is independent and quite capable of handling these cases in observance of international standards.
It would be surprising if other countries as well as the ICTR do not take the path Sweden has taken. Genocide is a grave crime that cannot go unpunished.