By Ogova Ondego
Published March 29, 2014
As the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Genocide that claimed close to a million lives in Rwanda, an international human rights watchdog expressed concern over what it termed as “judiciary’s lack of independence” in the central African country.
New York (USA)-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a 20-page paper titled ‘Justice After Genocide: 20 Years On’ that was released in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 28, 2014, the organisation expressed mixed feelings concerning the rule of law in Rwanda.
“Few members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the former rebel group that put an end to the genocide of 1994 and is now the ruling party in Rwanda, have been prosecuted in Rwanda, and none by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,” HRW said.
“RPF troops killed tens of thousands of civilians as they took over the country in 1994,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW, said. “These killings are not equivalent or comparable to the genocide, but they constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the victims and their families have a right to see justice done.”
Bekele called on Kigali to “keep up the efforts to arrest and prosecute, in fair and credible trials, others responsible for these crimes who are still at large.”
HRW noted that “conventional courts convicted numerous defendants after unfair trials” immediately after the genocide. It added that “Many [traditional Rwandan courts] gacaca hearings resulted in unfair trials and were marred by intimidation, corruption, and flawed decision making.”