Rwanda and the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) are set to get over the early release of a genocide convict following the visit of the Mechanism’s president, Rwanda’s justice minister has said.
Despite Rwanda’s strong opposition to the early release of genocide convict Aloys Simba, who had been sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment in 2005, the Mechanism released him in January.President Carmel Agius’s visit, starting Monday through Sunday, is a signal that existing relations between the Rwandan government and the Mechanism will go to the next level, Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said Monday at a press conference in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda. Rwanda is not against the principle of early release, but is against “early release without thorough, serious and objective consideration,” said Busingye.
The tendency and procedure of early release raised concerns of the Rwandan government as it was short on transparency, he said. “We raised our objections to the substance and form of this process and that was the only tool at our disposal,” he added.
“There may be early releases but each request (of early release) is going to be thoroughly checked in a transparent manner,” said Agius. Agius’s week-long visit to Rwanda is “in line with his stated intention to foster close ties between the Mechanism and the government and people of Rwanda,” according to a statement released by the Mechanism.
This is Agius’s first visit to Rwanda in his capacity as president of the Mechanism after he assumed the presidency of the Mechanism on Jan. 19, replacing his predecessor Theodor Meron. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed the lives of about 1 million people, mainly ethnic Tutsis, Simba handed out weapons to militias surrounding the Murambi Technical School in southern Rwanda and instructed them to massacre thousands of Tutsi civilians who were seeking shelter there, according to IBUKA, the umbrella body of genocide survivors associations of Rwanda.