Early Release of Convicted Genocidaires

UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

A guest post from Jacqueline Murekatete, Genocide Survivors Foundation.

The United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) which was put in place to finish the tasks left incomplete by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has been engaging in a pattern of granting early release to people who have been convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.

So far the MICT has already granted early release to 10 ICTR convicts (“genocidiaires”) who were among the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in which as you know, more than a million people were murdered, among them, my entire immediate family and most of my extended family members.

The previous early releases were granted without any consultation with genocide survivors or Rwanda, where the genocidal crimes were committed. These early releases were granted with complete disregard for the physical and psychological negative impact this will have on survivors. We only learned about the previous early releases after they had been granted.

At present, there are three applications for early release in front of the MICT by Hassan Ngeze, Dominique Ntawukulilyayo and Aloys Simba and for the first time, the MICT has asked the government of Rwanda to provide its opinion on these early releases. Survivors are taking the same opportunity to express our outrage and demand that this pattern of granting early release to genocide convicts be brought to an end.

Here is a brief information about the three people whose applications for early release are now in front of MICT:

Hassan Ngeze, was the leader of Kangura, the newspaper that was at the center of the Anti-Tutsi propaganda and dehumanization campaign which led to the genocide. Besides leading Kangura, Ngeze also actively participated in the massacres of Tutsis during the genocide.  He was convicted by the ICTR of aiding and abetting the commission of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and aiding and abetting extermination as a crime against humanity.

Dominique Ntawukulilyayo is also responsible for the massacres of Tutsis during the genocide most notably at Kabuye Hill where he knowingly sent Tutsis to their death. He was convicted by the ICTR of aiding and abetting extermination as a crime against humanity.

Aloys Simba supervised massacres of thousands of Tutsis in Rwanda’s southern province, most notably at the Murambi technical school and the Kaduha parish. He was convicted by the ICTR of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

You can learn more about the potential early release of the three persons mentioned above in the following articles:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/06/rwanda-appalled-at-chance-of-early-release-for-genocide-criminals

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/genocide-judge-meron-spot-once-again

And here is a list of genocidaires who have already been granted early release:

http://www.newsofrwanda.com/featured1/31898/here-is-long-list-of-rwanda-genocide-architects-freed-by-un-judge/

Long story short, the early release decisions for genocide convicts are being made in accordance with rule 151 of the MICT’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence which provides unconditional release. The president of MICT has discretion as to whether or not to grant early release. We are asking that these rules be amended to remove the provision for early release.

You can learn more about the MICT including the rules of procedure and evidence here: http://www.unmict.org/en

These three genocide convicts mentioned above who have applied for early release have always denied their crimes and have not expressed remorse for the above grave crimes which they were convicted of. I understand that some of the genocide convicts who have already been granted early release are now engaging in genocide denial activities and contributing to the denial phase of genocide, which we as survivors and Rwandans are facing now.

As you can imagine, seeing these genocide convicts released early from sentences which were already insufficient given the gravity of their crimes is extremely difficult and deeply troubling for genocide survivors.  Today, and 24 years after the genocide, many survivors are still struggling to rebuild their shattered lives.

At the moment, as we are observing the 100 day commemorative period for Rwanda (April-June), a time where the pain, loss and suffering caused by the genocide is more palpable than ever, it is deeply painful to be reading about these early release of the people most responsible for our pain, loss and suffering. This only adds insult to our injury and have already caused many to lose faith in the international justice system.

Given the gravity of the crime of genocide, we believe that genocide convicts should be punished in exemplary fashion, not just for the victims and for survivors, but also as a prevention mechanism. The international community needs to make clear its commitment to fight impunity in the aftermath of genocide. Justice is a key aspect of prevention.

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