Prosecution Hunting 1500 Escaped Gacaca Convicts

Above, a suspect appearing before Community court ‘Gacaca’. About 1.9 million cases related to genocide against Tutsi were tried through Gacaca courts.

The National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) says it has a list of 1538 people who were tried and convicted of Genocide crimes by traditional Gacaca courts, but escaped serving their sentences.

In 2001, government established Gacaca (community courts) – a grassroots court where the community directly tried cases of Genocide.

The 1994 genocide against Tutsi claimed over a million lives including looting, vandalism and displacing several others properties in a span of hundred days.

About 1.9 million cases were filed under the Gacaca courts within ten years – a milestone achievement that would take about 100 years if they were filed under the conventional courts.

According to dossiers kept by CNLG, after Gacaca courts were closed, some convicts fled to neighbouring countries, while others still roam around the country.

Gacaca sentences ranged from life imprisonment down to community service as an alternative penalty to imprisonment, commonly known as Travaux d’Intérêts Généraux (TIG).

In August this year, CNLG presented to Parliament the list of convicts who escaped either imprisonment or community services.

Speaking to KT Press on Thursday, Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana – Executive secretary of CNLG said that through collaboration with prosecution and other law-enforcing organs, the list is being worked on.

“We have seen some of these convicts re-arrested through collaboration with prosecution,” Bizimana told KT Press.

He added that CNLG has been gathering information regarding every convict, before forwarding it to prosecution.

Of those who escaped both prison sentences and TIG, 358 have been re-arrested, according to CNLG.

“As we speak, two people were arrested yesterday,” Bizimana said highlighting that through Interpol, those who fled to other countries have been sent back to Rwanda.”

“We have good collaboration with countries especially those in Northern Europe in sending back these people to Rwanda. Those who are not sent back are either tried or convicted in those respective countries,” he said.

Archiving Gacaca files

Meanwhile, the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) says works to archive all Gacaca files have nearly reached final stages.

According to CNLG, scanning works of the files has been completed, while indexing exercise will be conducted in two years from now.




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