Why Rwanda is fu­ri­ous with UN Court le­niency

Ki­gali is ques­tion­ing the cri­te­ria that Jus­tice Meron used, con­sid­er­ing the grav­ity of the crime of geno­cide

The East African - - NEWS - By ED­MUND KA­GIRE The Eastafrican

Rwanda has not taken kindly to the de­ci­sion by the In­ter­na­tional Resid­ual Mech­a­nism for Crim­i­nal Tri­bunals of the United Na­tions to re­lease some geno­cide con­victs and slash­ing the sen­tences.

Rwanda made its po­si­tion known to the UN on June 6, the same day Judge Theodor Meron, pres­i­dent of the Resid­ual Mech­a­nism, pre­sented to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil a re­port on progress made by the court which took over the work of the crim­i­nal tri­bunals of Rwanda and Yu­goslavia.

Jus­tice Meron is ac­cused by Ki­gali of show­ing “sym­pa­thy” for geno­cide sus­pects and con­victs given the planned early re­lease of con­victed per­sons in­clud­ing Has­san Ngeze, one of the key per­pe­tra­tors of the 1994 Geno­cide against the Tutsi.

Rwanda’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UN, Valen­tine Rug­wabiza said that the achieve­ments of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal of Rwanda (ICTR) are at stake mainly be­cause of the de­ci­sions of the Mech­a­nism for In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunals (MICT).

“Since the MICT was es­tab­lished in 2012, it has re­leased, be­fore the end of their sen­tences, more than 10 mas­ter­minds of the 1994 Geno­cide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. These early re­leases have been granted in non­trans­par­ent cir­cum­stances and on the ba­sis of in­con­sis­tent pro­ce­dure,” Ms Rug­wabiza told the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Rwanda ac­cuses the resid­ual mech­a­nism of do­ing lit­tle to ap­pre­hend and pros­e­cute the geno­cide sus­pects that are still at large, such as Féli­cien Kabuga, Pro­tais Mpi­ranya and Au­gustin Biz­imana.

Oth­ers are Ful­gence Kay­ishema, Charles Sikub­wabo, Aloys Ndim­bati, and Phénéas Mun­yaru­garama, who have had their cases re­ferred to Rwanda.

Rwanda said that it was not op­posed to the prin­ci­ple of early re­lease, but that the process at the UN court was not trans­par­ent.

Mo­biliser of geno­cide

“The prob­lem lies in the lack of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in the process used by the MICT to con­sider and ef­fect early re­leases. The de­ci­sions have been solely made by the MICT pres­i­dent,” Ms Rug­wabiza said.

Ms Rug­wabiza said Rwanda and geno­cide sur­vivors had learned of the par­dons through the me­dia.

For­mer ICTR prose­cu­tors in­clud­ing Si­mone Monase­bian have writ­ten to Jus­tice Meron op­pos­ing the early re­lease of Ngeze and oth­ers as it would dent the cred­i­bil­ity of the court.

Ngeze was the pub­lisher of Kan­gura news­pa­per through which Hu­tus were mo­bilised to kill Tut­sis, and was also the author of the “10 Com­mand­ments of the Hutu.”

Mr Ngeze, while in jail, has been ac­cused of cre­at­ing so­cial me­dia pages and web­sites that he uses to share mainly re­li­gious mes­sages but also eth­ni­cally laced com­men­taries.

Oth­ers likely to ben­e­fit from early re­lease in­clude Lt Col. Aloys Simba, a for­mer army of­fi­cer who was found guilty of geno­cide crimes and sen­tenced to 25 years at the end of 2005. He ap­pealed but his sen­tence was up­held in 2007.

The 79-year-old was set to com­plete his sen­tence in 2028 but is now likely to be re­leased next month.

On Wed­nes­day, Jus­tice Meron told the UNSC that the Resid­ual Mech­a­nism was per­form­ing well in its man­date, namely that of track­ing and pros­e­cu­tion of the re­main­ing fugi­tives, re­tri­als, new tri­als for con­tempt or false tes­ti­mony, pro­tec­tion of vic­tims and wit­nesses, and preser­va­tion and man­age­ment of ar­chives.

The judge high­lighted the mile­stones of the court and em­pha­sised the adop­tion of the re­vi­sion to the Code of Pro­fes­sional Con­duct for the Judges of the Mech­a­nism, by which the judges may be held ac­count­able for up­hold­ing the prin­ci­ples set forth therein.

It was adopted in April.

Pic­ture: File

Guests fol­low pro­ceed­ings at KICC in Nairobi on April 7, 2017 dur­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 23rd an­niver­sary of the Geno­cide against the Tutsi.

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