UN welcomes start of Rwanda genocide suspect’s trial

A top UN official has welcomed the opening of a trial in The Hague against Felicien Kabuga for his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Kabuga is being tried before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity, reports Xinhua news agency.

He was arrested by the French police in 2020 at the age of 87 after 26 years on the run.

“Our collective commitment not to forget constitutes a commitment to prevent,” Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on genocide prevention, said here on Wednesday.

“Accountability is prevention in itself and hence a deterrent for future crimes.”

She said fair and credible judicial proceedings can provide victims with a form of redress for the gross and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law that they have endured.

These measures can also help prevent and address feelings of frustration and bitterness, and the possible desire for retaliation, the UN official said.

On the contrary, when justice is not served, lingering perceptions of injustice can become a risk factor for further violence and possibly, atrocity crimes, she added.

Nderitu called on all member states to continue to fully cooperate with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in the identification, arrest, detention, surrender, and transfer of accused persons still at large.

According to the Human Rights Watch, as a chief financier of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, which during the genocide instructed people to erect barriers and carry out searches, named persons to be targeted and pointed out areas to attack, Kabuga is accused of being a mastermind of the genocide.

The 89-year-old, is also accused of aiding and abetting the Interahamwe, a militia attached to the ruling party who hunted down and slaughtered Tutsi men, women, and children.

The Rwandan genocide that occurred between April 7 and July 15, 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War, led to the killing of approximately three quarters of the Tutsi population, leaving more than half a million people dead.

Sexual violence was rife, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 women raped during the 100 days.

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