September 9, 2019

UK Has Ignored International Genocide Convention – Says Rwanda Commission

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The former British prime minister, Tony Blair laying a wreath of flowers on mass grave at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.

Rwanda’s national commission for the fight against genocide (CNLG) has said the fugitives are able to live in the UK without facing justice due to laxity in the country’s laws.

CNLG executive secretary, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana this Monday reacted to reports in the UK over the weekend that government had spent £5,351,612 (Rwf 6.1billion) on the legal costs of the alleged five Rwandan genocide fugitives since 2013.

They are: Dr Vincent Bajinya, Celestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo, Charles Munyaneza and Celestin Mutabaruka.

The Rwanda government anti-genocide commission urges that the UK is having trouble to prosecute the fugitives, and should extradite them to Rwanda.

Other European countries have either prosecuted fugitives they were able to apprehend or have sent them to Rwanda. There has been neither of the actions in the UK. The 5 suspects have managed to easily fight off prosecution for over 10 years.

Bizimana says not only does the UK have no laws criminalising genocide, but it has also ignored the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

However, this not entirely true. Ewelina U. Ochab, a UK legal researcher and author of ‘Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East’, explains the situation in British laws.

“In compliance with the [UN] convention, the UK has laws criminalising genocide,” writes Ochab in piece for platform.

“However, as it stands, the UK does not have any mechanism to recognise mass atrocities, which meet the threshold, as genocide.”

What this means is that, ultimately, by default, the UK is not able to fulfil its obligations under the convention. In fact, over the years, the UK Government’s position has been that ‘any judgements on whether genocide has occurred should be a matter for the international judicial system rather than legislatures, governments or other non-judicial bodies.’

A law introduced back in 2016 in the UK House of Lords, or upper house of parliament, to seal the loopholes, has not managed to get substantive readings. And therefore, its passage is not soon.

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