Beatrice Munyenyezi: unfair and politically motivated justice.

On Friday 24 February 2012, Christopher Tappin, retired British businessman, was extradited to US for charges of arms dealing with Iran. The victim says that the charges are “frivolous.” Despite Tappin’s supporters’ claim that there is no reason to send him to US while he could have a trial in Britain, and even if found guilty and sentenced, he could be close to home, it is at least possible to  presume some degree of fairness in the American justice system that cannot be for example found in Rwanda. On top of that, there are existing treaties of extradition between UK and US. As far as criminal responsibility is concerned, it is personal. Consequently, it could be logically expected that no other member of Tappin’s family will ever be charged for crimes he is accused of. So far he is apparently the only being pursued in his case.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, is of Rwandan origins. She lives in US where she obtained American citizenship in 2003. Unfortunately, she is member of the Ntahobali family. She has three teenagers. Prosecutor John Capin accuses her of ordering the rapes and murders of Tutsis in Butare [Rwanda] during the genocide of 1994. Her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, and mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, were investigated, put on trial and sentenced by the ICTR. Munyenyezi denies any role in the genocide. Her attorneys said she was 24 and pregnant at the time and stayed inside the hotel run by Ntahobali’s family. Timothy Longman, director of African studies at Boston University, testified in Munyenyezi’s trial. He said he estimates 700,000 people were killed in the genocide and 100,000 took part in the killings. This is a significant number but probably plausible considered the scale of the tragedy.

Vincent Harris, on his blog Colored Opinions stresses the importance of context, particularly in investigating to find the truth about what happened in Rwanda and or is still ongoing.  Last month, Leon Mugesera, who is accused of inciting to commit genocide back in 1992, was forcibly returned to Rwanda. Many countries across the world have been reluctant to send back to their country Rwandans rightly or wrongly accused of the same charges simply because Rwandan judiciary is overwhelmingly politicised and lack any level of independence from the executive. Such cases have been widely reported in mainstream media in France and UK.

Could all this international ongoing apparent support of Rwandan judiciary system be seen as an acknowledgement of its efficiency or the same response to the guilt of non effective intervention in the 1994 tragedy that the country continues to suffer from? Obviously it cannot be the former, knowing how partisan of RPF policies is justice in Rwanda. It cannot be neither the latter, because eighteen years after the genocide, a significant number of crimes against humanity and even of genocide nature by Paul Kagame, should make the international community less inclined to supporting a regime which has demonstrated its dictatorial, and criminal orientation in many regards.

The international community has failed Rwanda in the past. One significant example has been the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda which has been excessively expensive without achieving what it was set up for: to investigate perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide and reconcile the population. ICTR is in the process of winding up its operations. And as a consequence it is transferring its cases to Rwanda. Countries with suspected perpetrators are following suite. Failing once and persevering in own mistakes, isn’t it a sign of insanity?


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