[JURIST] Amnesty International Friday urged governments worldwide not to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda [press release] until fair trials there can be guaranteed. The human rights group is concerned about the Rwandan justice system's fairness and impartiality with respect to international standards of justice. The director of the group's Africa Programme, Erwin van der Borght, said:
The various national governments where suspects reside should immediately start proceedings in their own courts applying universal jurisdiction laws to investigate and, where there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute the horrific crimes committed during the genocide -- on behalf of both the Rwandan people and the international community.... Where universal jurisdiction laws allowing for prosecutions do not exist, they should be enacted immediately.He added:
We recognize the importance of Rwandan national courts taking responsibility for investigating and prosecuting persons accused of the heinous crimes that were committed in Rwanda during the genocide. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the rights of both the accused and the victims will be fully respected and protected by these courts.The group also urged the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] in Tanzania not to transfer any cases there. Rwandan officials, meanwhile, defended the country's justice system Friday, telling BBC News that the country has already successfully dealt with genocide cases through the country's local gacaca courts [official website]. BBC News has more.
Earlier this month, some 40 ICTR prisoners launched a hunger strike [JURIST report] to protest the planned transfer of three ICTR cases to the national courts of Rwanda. The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict [BBC backgrounder] between Hutus and Tutsis. The ICTR began the process of transferring genocide cases to Rwandan courts after the country abolished the death penalty [JURIST reports] earlier this year.