Ibuka petitions convicts release

Monday September 3 2018


Families remember victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Ibuka is against the release of several genocide convicts. PHOTO: FILE 

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Ibuka has petitioned the UN Security Council and the Mechanism of International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) against the early release of genocide convicts arguing that their release will help spread genocide ideology.

According to officials from the umbrella organisation for genocide survivors, there is credible evidence showing the early release of 10 genocide convicts who include Ferdinand Nahimana and Michael Bagaragaza, led to the production of inflammatory materials negating and trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, president of Ibuka said the tribunal had recently received applications from at least three convicts requesting early releases after serving two-three years of their sentences. The petition was being heard by Judge Theodore Meron.

“We are concerned by the applications and even more about Judge Meron, who has continuously made biased and politically motivated decisions. We have presented our concerns about this issue and we request relevant organs including the UN Security Council and the MICT to intervene and ask Judge Meron to reconsider his decision,” said Prof Dusingizemungu.

He added that many of the applicants who were granted release have never expressed remorse for their crimes and are yet to prove that they can live peacefully with survivors once they are released.

MICT for Rwanda was commissioned by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to complete the work of the former Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after its dissolution.

According to a letter sent to the government of Rwanda from MICT, Judge Meron said he would only consider parties mentioned in the petition who are the applicants themselves and the government of Rwanda and not third parties including Ibuka.

Jean Damascene Ndabilora, a lawyer in international and criminal justice said the refusal by Judge Meron to hear the survivors blocks access to relevant information, especially when there are concerns the convicts could do more harm out of the prison.

“Denying the voice of the survivors in this case is intolerable, especially when the convicts are considered a threat once they are free. The petition, therefore, seeks to urge Judge Meron to revisit his decision whereas that of the UN Security Council seeks to put pressure on the judge and hear the side of survivors,” he said.

In April this year, the government requested to have open hearings on the release of three genocide convicts, namely Hassan Ngeze, Colonel Aloys Simba and Dominique Ntawukuliryayo, before they are effected. Judge Meron is yet to consider the request.