Belgium, Rwanda hold extradition deal talks

Sunday March 10 2019


The two countries are in talks although it is not clear when and if a deal can be reached. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

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Belgium has promised more negotiations with Rwanda on the yet to be signed extradition treaty in a drive to fast-track trials of genocide fugitives.

Since 2001, Rwanda has issued at least 39 indictments to Belgium and so far only eight cases involving genocide suspects have been brought before courts and await final judgement while 31 suspects are yet to be arrested.

Speaking to the press about the pending extradition treaty between Rwanda and Belgium, Phillipe Meire,  Belgium’s deputy federal prosecutor, talked about ongoing initiatives to come up with the treaty or special co-operation on judicial affairs.

However, Mr Meire did not give a timeline about how long it would take for a deal to be reached, but the two countries will be co-operating on a bilateral basis, which involves hearing and trying genocide cases in Belgium.

On the other hand, Rwanda’s Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana, voiced concern about the lack of will by European countries to establish extradition treaties, which has hampered progress to extradite or deport genocide fugitives to Rwanda for trial.

“We have been registering some successes on extradition treaties with some African countries, but there isn’t much success from the western world. However, the Ministry of Justice has been engaged in ensuring that extraditions are signed. The government is looking into this and our ministry is committed to securing as many treaties as we can, particularly in countries where we have identified some of the fugitives,” said Mr Mutangana.

He added that Rwanda has always welcomed decisions by countries to conduct genocide cases in foreign jurisdiction as long as they ensure justice is served.

“Prosecutors do not engage in extradition treaties, but we can sign memorandum of understandings and we have MoUs with prosecutors in Africa and Europe. Treaties are primarily the role of governments,” said Mr Mutangana.

The two prosecutors also tackled a number of issues relating to denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Belgium, particularly curbing down movements of the likes of Seth Sendashonga Institute (IScid), a Belgium-based organisation that facilitates debates that seek to repeatedly deny the genocide.

On this, Mr Meire said that while the Belgium government understands the concerns of Rwandans, his own parliament is yet to come up with a law that prohibits denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, despite acknowledging the Holocaust.