Rwanda has ratified agreements on legal cooperation in criminal matters, transfer of suspected criminals and extradition with Mozambique and Angola, to enable all the parties to track down criminals across their borders
The agreements were passed by the Rwanda parliament this February 6, 2023 following their signing between the Republic of Rwanda and Mozambique and Angola in Kigali, on June 03, 2022) and on April 15, 2022 respectively.
“This will pave the way for information and evidence gathering and sharing, investigation, prosecution and punishments to be conducted on both sides,” said Solina Nyirahabimana, Minister of State in Charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
Nyirahabimana said that the ratified agreements will especially enable Rwanda to follow up and bring justice to genocide suspects who still live at large in the Southern African nations.
As of 2022, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Mechanism (UNRMCT) said that there more than 1,000 fugitives wanted by Rwandan authorities for crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda with most of them in the Southern African states, however many genocide fugitives cannot be tracked because they abused processes of refugee status to conceal their alleged criminal records.
The Chairperson of the Umbrella association of Genocide against the Tutsi survivor organization (IBUKA), Dr. Philibert Gakwenzire said that the agreements show that the government is committed to deliver justice for genocide victims and survivors and the association is hopeful of the good results that will come out soon or later.
“Ibuka commends this as very good progress in the process of rebuilding our nation and delivering justice to genocide survivors and victims,” Gakwenzire told KTPress in a phone interview.
Significance and Implications
The Minister also stated that these agreements will also enhance Rwanda’s plans to become a goods and services hub, which requires the country to prevent possible cross border crimes that come with foreign direct investments and use of the internet for business.
The implementation will be done by the prosecution office, Ministry of Justice and costs will be paid for by the requesting government and this will be commencing 30 days after the final agreements are exchanged.
“This will help us to extend the hand of Justice in the other countries especially Mozambique where we have interests in various legal aspects,” Nyirahabimana said.
On exchange of suspects and convicts, Nyirahabimana explained that this will come into play for suspects who at least have been convicted or committed crimes that come with a prison sentence of at least 2 years.
She also explained that in this case, the requesting country will meet costs involved in investigation and transfer of their suspected nationals to the country of origin for further legal proceedings.
MP Suzanne Mukayijore asked what would happen if a case of someone has a double nationality in both countries, and the minister explained that in that case the requesting country will provide evidence to the host country for the suspect to be prosecuted without extradition, and the same will happen vice versa.
MP Damien Nyabyenda asked who pays the costs if the host country is obliged to conduct an investigation, but the minister stated that all the costs, whatsoever, have to be met by the requesting country.
MP Beline Uwineza asked what would in case the suspect in a host country is convicted with a heavier punishment (such as a death penalty) which is not in Rwanda, and the Minister explained that the agreement negotiations prohibit either of the countries to give a severe punishment which is bigger than the one in the suspect’s country of origin.
This means that in case a Rwandan is convicted in Angola he or she can only get a life sentence – which is the biggest punishment since the abolishment of a death penalty in Rwanda in 2007.