Genocide fugitives

Netherlands seeks to effect Genocide extraditions in one year

Deutch prosecutorSupreme Court registrar Olivier Rukundakuvuga (R) shows Teeven (C) and Rugege around the court premises yesterday. The New Times/Courtesy

The visiting Dutch Minister for Migration, Security and Justice, Fred Teeven, said yesterday his country was ready to extradite or deport some Genocide suspects to Rwanda within one-and-a-half years.

Teeven made the remarks after meeting with the Chief Justice, Sam Rugege at the end of his three-day visit to Rwanda.

“I have met with several government officials and visited a number of institutions… We intend to improve our cooperation with Rwanda and I am impressed with what has been achieved in this country in the last 15 years in the field of justice and other sectors,” Teeven said after touring the Supreme Court and High Court premises.

The Netherlands has been a major partner of the Rwandan judiciary from the times of Gacaca court during reforms within the Judiciary that commenced in 2004.

Asked if his country intends to extend the cooperation to the level of extraditing cases to Rwanda, Teeven said, “Sure, there are plans to extradite some suspects to Rwanda. We already have a number of cases pending and it is possible that we are going to extradite three or four persons within one and half years from now.”

He added: “But we are also looking at various possible ways since we have people who illegally entered Netherlands so they will also be deported in a few years.”

The Dutch courts have so far tried and convicted several Genocide suspects, including Joseph Mpambara, who is serving a life sentence.

Last year, Yvonne Basebya, 66, was also sentenced to eight years for her role in the Genocide.

However, the country says it faces a key challenge of fugitives that have already been naturalised as Dutch citizens.

For a Dutch citizen to be extradited, their citizenship have to revoked first.

Courthouse construction

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Sam Rugege said the Dutch government has pledged to finance the construction of a courthouse, which will try Genocide suspects transferred to Rwanda from other jurisdictions.

“The Dutch have pledged to continue their support to the Judiciary and also construct the courthouse for the High Courts special Chamber trying cases from other jurisdictions. The courthouse, to be located in Nyanza District, will also house the Nyanza High Court,” said Prof. Rugege.

However, he did not reveal details of when the construction is expected to commence and how much the complex will cost, saying that planning was still at elementary stage.

So far, cases that have been transferred to Rwanda from other jurisdictions and are being tried by the Special Chamber of the High Court include former Pentecostal priest Jean Uwinkindi and Bernard Munyagishari, the transferees of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); Leon Mugesera (deported from Canada) and Charles Bandora (from Norway).

Combating immigration

In a related development, Rwanda and Netherlands on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding on mutual support in the field of migration and combating illegal migration between the two countries.

The agreement was signed by the Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, on behalf of Rwanda, and Teeven on behalf of Netherlands during a closed-door meeting in Kigali.

“We appreciate the continually growing bilateral relationship between our two countries. Justice is a special sector in Rwanda given our tragic history, we have been seeking a balance between justice and reconciliation,” Mushikiwabo is quoted in a statement from her ministry.

“The contribution of Dtuch government in rebuilding and reforming Rwandan justice sector has been very much meaningful to Rwandans,” the minister said.

Minister Teeven said his government “appreciates its cooperation with Rwanda” and was looking to strengthening bilateral ties, particularly in the migration field. “We did a lot together in the justice field and I think we can do more in the migration field.”

Teeven further said they were considering scaling mutual cooperation in the areas of agriculture and trade.

Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw

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