African Press International (API)

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Posted by African Press International on May 26, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no

Flicien KabugaMr Flicien Kabuga (left)

The international community following the Kabuga saga may soon be treated to abig surprise. Some media outlets have reported that the Government of Rwanda will not negotiate with Mr Kabuga. That would be unwise. The government could have made a better decision if they had first received and studied the document from Mr Kabuga.

Refusal to consider giving talks a chance will drive Mr Kabuga to seek political asylum in Norway, a country that will not extradite anybody accused of genocide.

After publishing Kabuga story and his whereabouts, many sources, including some journalists have tried to discredit the story one way or another.

API has done a genuine story and that is it! More cannot be said about that. The important thing for API is to be able to relay the message to the Government of the Republic of Rwanda as requested by Mr Kabuga.

There are those who have decided todoubt and cloud theinterview withtheir own reasons concluding that API may be trying to derail the investigations by carrying the story. API was not thinking of the story as a journalistic scoop or one story that was to earn API millions for the simple reason to devulge the whereabouts of Mr Kabuga, just as some online media are suggesting.

Some media outlets have indicated that the ICTR is using time to verify API’s story. API wonders how ICTR is able to verify the story. API knows the interview is genuine, not a hoaxas some would want to believe and ICTRusing time to study the interview and trying to verify will not make sense when the Government of Rwanda has not received the document and acquiant itself with the contents of Mr Kabuga’s request. If the government was willing to engagein talks, the best thing would have been to receive the document, use time to study it and that is when ICTR could come out and say they are verifying the contents.

Many have found it difficult to understand that Mr Kabuga could brave his way andactually be in Norway at all, be it during the time of the interview, or at this moment. The doubters are trying to reason that the man could not have even thought of entering Norway. Such doubters should know how many people accused of genocide areroaming the streets of Norway without any attempt by the Norwegian authorities to arrest them.

API would like to help the doubters to understand that Norway is a country that will not arrest any Rwandese accused of genocide and return them to be tried. Norway would rather, as lenient as the country is, try such people themselves in Norway, only to enable them later to get the best treatment in the Norwegian jails, jails that are well kept as top class hotels where the prisoner gets his own room, newspapers, and television.

The same prisoners will be able to choose the type of education and may study outside the prison, although they must return to jail after school.

Norway is one of the countries in the west willing to receive Rwandesefrom Arusha for trial when ICTR’s time lapses at the end of this year.

Those who will be transferred to Norway will be tried leniently and they will get the opportunity to apply for asylum on humanitarian grounds once they complete their sentences, if at all they get any. They will never receive tough prison sentences or real prison life in Norway.For those who do not know the Norwegian system, they had better taken time to study it.

If Rwanda decides not to negotiate with Mr Kabuga, no one will ever know the contents of the confidential document intended to be handed over to the Rwandan Justice Minister.

API believes that due to his poor health andhigh age, it is most likely that Mr Kabuga may decide to seek politicalasylum in Norway. To those who know the way asylum requests are dealt with in Norway , it willnot be a surprise to see him granted asylum and the securitythat befits an old man and human being, because Norway prefers to give priority to health and human rights especially when it has to do with international happenings.

Norway is good to care for the sick and with the problem of diabetes, Mr Kabuga would get good care even if he was to be tried by the Norwegians. He would be handed a symbolic sentence because of high age and diabetes, thereafter, granted asylum and a house in Norway as all the others who have been housed by the Norwegian government.

While practising criminal law, Norway seeks to give people a fair trial, bearing in mind that the laws of the landstipulates that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.

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The story from July 27, 2006 on slow progress at the Rwandan Tribunal:

When the slow process surfaced, Norway was one of the countries that offered to take on the load and take over some genocide cases. Norway wanted to have those accused on genocide transferred to Oslo for trial.

The story below clearly states that Norway does not have genocide laws. The Tribunal ruled as follows;

“that Norway does not have genocide laws, and therefore could not try a person accused of genocide.”

Therefore, any persons accused of Genocide who may be tried in Norway will have to be leniently treated because the country does not have the laws required.

Slow Progress at Rwandan Tribunal

By Stephanie Nieuwoudt *

Institute for War and Peace Reporting
July 27, 2006

“At a cost of over a billion dollars, some say the tribunal to try ringleaders of the Rwandan genocide is too expensive and has dragged on for too long.

This town in northern Tanzania has always been a bustling place thanks to its proximity to the Kenyan border and tourist attractions such as the 15,000-foot Mount Meru and the Ngorongoro Crater, often called the eighth wonder of the world for its spectacular landscapes and wildlife. But Arusha has become even busier in the last decade courtesy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR. This one-time small town now has a population of just over a quarter of a million and has grown so fast that it was recently awarded city status.

The United Nations Security Council set up the tribunal after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. With its goal of trying and sentencing those most for these crimes against humanity, the ICTR is widely seen as one of the most important international justice bodies since Nuremberg. Yet the court has also drawn a lot of criticism, in particular from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who said the ICTR was established “to do as little as possible”.

During a visit to Canada earlier this year, he accused the West of allowing western actors allegedly complicit in the genocide to get off scot-free. Kagame specifically mentioned “French leaders” who he said “directly took part in the genocide by aiding the Hutu militias”. French soldiers intervened briefly on the side of fleeing Hutus, as the army of the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front, RPF, streamed across the border from Uganda and gradually established control of the country. Rwandan leaders have also said that time and money could have been saved had the perpetrators been tried at home.

In an interview earlier this year, Alloys Mutabingwa, special representative of the Rwandan government at the ICTR, claimed his country would have used the money more productively not only by prosecuting perpetrators and helping victims, but also by pouring funds into social development projects. The ICTR focuses solely on the high-level figures alleged to have instigated the genocide. Meanwhile, thousands of cases have already been tried in Rwanda, either in regular national courts or in a special traditional system of justice known as “gacaca” designed to relieve the burden on prisons and courts. Gacaca hearings are held outdoors – the word loosely translates as “justice on the grass” – with household heads serving as judges in the resolution of community disputes. The system is based on voluntary confessions, apologies and pleas for forgiveness by wrongdoers.

At an estimated cost of 1.03 billion dollars by the end of 2007, there have also been complaints that the ICTR is too expensive. Responding to such claims, ICTR spokesperson Tim Gallimore said: “The cost of the tribunal is within the range of what it costs for comparable international criminal legal proceedings.” Many also feel that far too few suspected perpetrators of crimes have been dealt with and that the process has dragged on for far too long. Only 72 suspects have so far been arrested. Of those, 28 have been tried, 24 convicted, and three acquitted.

“It is not physically possible, given the number of judges and courtrooms that we have, to hear any more cases,” said Gallimore. “The process is carefully supervised by elected judges from a wide variety of legal systems and countries. They do their best to ensure that the accused get fair trial rights and that the interests of justice are served for the grave crimes against humanity that were committed in Rwanda in 1994. To do all that, it takes a certain amount of time.

The ICTR has four courtrooms and 18 judges, robed in scarlet with black cravats. They hold hearings from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday for 11 months each year. Gallimore said casual observers of the tribunal may not fully appreciate the complexity of each case and trial and the enormous amount of work that has been involved in completing 27 trials since the tribunal began work in 1997.

The Rwandan government has also been blamed for dragging out the process. The trial of the former commerce minister Justin Mugenzi – facing at least ten specific genocide charges as well as a charge of murder – could not proceed in May this year because the government failed to honour its undertaking to transfer Agnes Ntamabyariro, another former minister who is to be a defence witness for Mugenzi, to Arusha. Ntamabyariro is in custody in Rwanda for genocide crimes.

“The Rwandan government is bullying us [the ICTR] and we are being too timid. It looks like we are making excuses for the Rwandan government,” Jonathan Kirk, co-counsel for Mugenzi, told the Hirondelle News Agency, a media organisation which reports on Rwandan affairs. A lawyer who has been with the ICTR for three years told IWPR that Rwanda’s lack of cooperation in the Mugenzi case is indicative of the country’s distrust and resentment of the tribunal. “The critics are right in condemning the process as too drawn out and costing too much,” she said. “But this tribunal is unquestionably laying the groundwork for future criminal cases not only with regard to war criminals but also other criminal cases.”

Meanwhile, a senior official at the ICTR, who also asked not to be named, said that international justice does not come cheap, “especially if you want to avoid the trap of victor’s justice”. But some accuse the ICTR of doing just that – mirroring the Nuremberg tribunal. So far only defeated Hutus have been tried. There are those who want to see closer scrutiny and the indictment of some members of President Kagame’s RPF, which now rules the country with an iron fist. When the then rebel RPF movement invaded Rwanda from its exiled bases in Uganda and ousted the Hutu government from power, some of its members are alleged to have committed atrocious crimes in the process of putting an end to the genocide. There have been calls for these alleged perpetrators, some of whom are in government, to be brought to justice.

Gallimore denied the claim the ICTR is favouring one side over the other. “The tribunal does not indict and try individuals based on their ethnicity or any other personal criteria,” he said. “Our mandate is to bring to justice those most responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Where there is credible evidence that individuals committed crimes within the jurisdiction of the tribunal, the prosecutor makes a determination about indictment and trial of such individuals, regardless of their ethnicity.”

Independent observers as well as those working within the ICTR are concerned that cases currently on trial will not be finished before the tribunal is due to be wound up at the end of 2008. In an effort to lighten the load, the ICTR has asked several countries – including Norway, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal – if they would accept some cases. However, there are real problems with transferring cases. Norway indicated that it was willing to try Michael Bagaragaza, the former director general of the state-run tea industry regulator who is alleged to have ordered tea agency workers to kill hundreds of Tutsis who were seeking refuge in a church and a factory. But the tribunal ruled that Norway does not have genocide laws, and therefore could not try a person accused of genocide.

Another stumbling block is that most African countries seem to be reluctant to take cases, because it might jeopardise their diplomatic relations with Rwanda. Despite the already crowded docket and formidable time constraints, there are many more individuals who could face either the tribunal or national courts. The Rwandan government in May published a list of 171 people being sought in connection with the killings, many of whom have left the country. Two wanted former Rwandan mayors, Celestin Ugirashebuga and Charles Munyaneza, are said to be living quite openly in suburban Britain. In newspaper interviews, Munyaneza has denied the allegations against him.

On both the Rwandan and ICTR wanted lists is wealthy Hutu businessman Flicien Kabuga, who is rumoured to be in Kenya. Kabuga’s privately Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines called for the mass murder of Tutsis and others ahead of the genocide. Mille Collines achieved notoriety for its calls to Hutus to “stamp out the [Tutsi] cockroaches”. Kabuga is charged with supplying machetes, hoes and other tools for use as weapons by Hutu mobs. He is alleged to have been the main financial backer of the extremist militias which carried out the massacres along with the Hutu-dominated government and military.

“We depend on the co-operation of UN member states to aid us in arresting suspects,” Gallimore said. The Kenyan government has denied that it is in any way aiding Kabuga. There has also been criticism that people are being tried in groups by the ICTR. Fatou Bensouda, a deputy prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, who worked at the ICTR first as legal adviser and trial attorney and eventually as head of the legal advisory unit, condemned the practice of trying groups of people instead of prosecuting individuals.

The most drawn-out case has been the so called Butare case in which two former governors in Rwanda’s Butare district, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo, and two former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje, are on trial. The only woman on trial, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs, is also grouped with these men – accused of instigating rape and murder. The trial of Nyiramasuhukos son Shalom Arsene Ntahobali, an alleged militia leader in Butare, opened in June 2001 and has no end in sight. The prosecution took three-and-a-half years to argue its case, and there are indications that the defence attorneys will need the same amount of time.

The Butare case has been marked by internal splits among the accused: Kanyabashi and Nsabimana claim that Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali masterminded the violence in Butare. Mother and son in turn blame other senior government officials. The ICTR is racing against time, but it is undeniably promoting future international jurisprudence. Its very existence makes a strong statement about putting an end to impunity. Long before Charles Taylor, the former ruler of Liberia, was arrested and put on trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the ICTR laid a solid foundation for bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”

Related stories:

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African Press International – api

One Response to “”

  1. Anonymous said

    Mr. Kabuga enjoys life somewhere in south western Kenya.As a matter of fact he doesn’t need anybody’s protection.He is now Kenyan and travels outside the country regularly.The countries he goes to include DRC zimbabwe and very many others

    Like

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