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Rwanda genocide survivors make fresh appeal for perpetrators arrest

The survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide under their Umbrella association IBUKA have appealed to the international community to apprehend genocide fugitives and extradite them to Rwanda.

The appeal was made on Thursday by Dr. Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of IBUKA while speaking to reporters on the recently dropped case against Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a genocide perpetrator.

Munyeshyaka was set free by the French court two weeks ago on grounds that the case lacked evidence yet he was previously convicted of genocide-related crimes by a Rwandan Gacaca court in absentia.

"Genocide perpetrators are moving freely and enjoying their lives in foreign countries across the world. The international community has done little to apprehend these suspects so that they can face the law," said Dusingizemungu.

He stated that some countries like France continues to demonstrate reluctance to bring to book those responsible for mass murders during the 1994 genocide.

In April this year, Rwanda marked the 21st anniversary of the 1994 Genocide that claimed more than a million lives, majority ethnic Tutsis and minority Hutus.

The Genocide was sparked when a plane carrying the ex-Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana (a member of the ethnic Hutu majority) was shot down on April 6, 1994, killing all on board. Rwandan Hutus blamed ethnic Tutsis for the attack and sought immediate revenge.

Rwanda has also issued 156 indictments and international arrest warrants to 27 countries; both in Africa, Europe and North America, but very few suspects have been apprehended or tried, leaving a large number enjoying impunity in their host nations.

The French court last month ruled that Joseph Habyarimana, a suspect wanted in Rwanda for genocide charges won’t be extradited to the small central African nation on the grounds that the crimes were not offences at the time and laws cannot be applied retroactively.

French appeals court in May this year released Dr. Charles Twagira suspected of participating in the 1994 Genocide which riled Rwandan government and genocide survivors.

Twagira, who was first indicted in March 2014 for genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda, was reportedly released on May 22.

Rwanda’s 1996 organic law was given a retroactive mandate of apprehending Genocide suspects, meaning it was empowered to try crimes committed between 1990 and 1994.

Under the 1948 Genocide Convention, the international community is obliged to act once genocide occurs anywhere in the world.

Presently seven people accused of committing genocide have been extradited from Uganda, Canada, U.S. and the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to stand trial in Rwanda.

More fugitives are still being tracked, including wealthy Rwandan businessman, Felicien Kabuga, accused of bankrolling the Genocide.

Elysee NZASHIMIMANA

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