The Ministers of Justice of Rwanda and Burundi met in Kigali on Friday as part of efforts by the two countries to restore bilateral ties. Rwanda’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja welcomed his Burundian counterpart Domine Banyankimbona and her delegation with they discussed matters relating to justice.
The meeting which took place at the Ministry of Justice saw the two Ministers and other high ranking officials discuss issues which the two countries need to work on together on the road towards full restoration of ties.
Minister Ugirashebuja said the the two sister countries have made commendable progress towards addressing some of the issues that affected bilateral ties nearly seven years ago. He pointed out that as part of the efforts, Rwanda has handed over 17 wanted individuals and militias while Burundi on the other hand has handed over 11 individuals.
“Rwanda and Burundi are twin sisters’ countries. What we share is far bigger than what can separate us. We are happy that our relations are taking a new positive direction, with the guidance of our two leaders,”
“We have witnessed many bilateral meetings at high levels in different areas for the last months, and it gives us hope that the best future of our two countries and for our citizens is its underway. In relation to the Justice Sector in particular, there are some achievements to be proud of, both countries have already exchanged suspected criminals. Burundi handed over 19, and Rwanda 11 members of armed groups,” Dr. Ugirashebuja said.
Dr. Ugirashebuje said that of December last year, Rwanda facilitated the return of 29,442 Burundian refugees (out of approximately 72,000) that have been repatriated into their home country since August 2020., and it will continue as long as there are request for voluntary returns.
He however said that there is still a lot to discuss in areas of justice and on how the two countries can cooperate to make justice systems stronger and more efficient.
“So, this kind of meeting is very important step in that direction. My hope is that whatever may be achieved in the future, we need first of all to establish a strong legal framework of cooperation in justice sector.,”
“In this regard, an updated signed extradition treaty and an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters are very crucial, as they are foundation of judicial cooperation. Rwanda had already sent a draft of extradition treaty, I hope we will be able to move forward and have signed document in the nearest future,” Dr. Ugirashebuja said.
Minister Banyankimbona began her speech by dedicating the two countries to God in a prayer, pointing out that Rwanda and Burundi share historical ties that go many centuries back and the people of the two countries would love to see travel between the two countries restored.
“The people of the two countries have not been able to travel across borders since 2015 due to a number of reasons but we are happy that bilateral cooperation between our countries is being restore. We want to see people moving freely again,” Banyankimbona said.
“As my colleague mentioned, we have seen renewed relations between our countries. We have had different visits for both sides and as mentioned, Rwanda has facilitated the repatriation of Burundian refugees. They are now back home and well settled and we will continue to do more going forward,” she added.
The meeting, which was attended by Prosecutor Generals from both countries and heads of intelligence, among other high ranking officials.