KIGALI — Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday decried the reluctance of countries, such as France, to bring Rwandan genocide suspects to justice, during a ceremony marking the 27th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
The central African nation on Wednesday began the annual national commemoration for over 1 million victims that lasts for three months, including a mourning week at the beginning. More than 500 Rwandans, friends of Rwanda, members of diplomatic corps gathered in Kigali’s indoor sports complex, Kigali Arena, for the ceremony, which invited fewer people than previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Genocide suspects are granted safe haven and Rwanda’s extradition requests were refused in several countries including France, Kagame said, adding that some cases have gone on for about 15 years in European and African countries, without being prosecuted.
Kagame said some countries hosts four or five genocide suspects whose files are clear, but they rejected to extradite them to Rwanda.”We talked to the countries hosting them, but the answer was we don’t have extradition treaty with you, we don’t trust your courts, we don’t trust your laws,” said the president.
There are more than 1,100 genocide fugitives still at large in countries like France, United States of America, Netherlands and Canada, according to Jean-Bosco Siboyintore, head of Rwanda’s Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit.The majority of the fugitives, standing at 408, are in the neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 277 fugitives are in Uganda, said Siboyintore, adding that others are in Malawi, Tanzania, France, the Republic of the Congo, Belgium, and Burundi.
Rwanda has so far signed extradition treaties with 10 countries out of the 30 countries where suspects are believed to be hiding, according to him. Earlier in the day, Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame alongside ambassador of the Republic of the Congo Guy Nestor Itoua, who is Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and representatives of survivors laid a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where over 250,000 victims are laid to rest.Kagame then lit the Flame of Remembrance at the memorial.