Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rwanda: Tharcisse KARUGARAMA Misleading the Rwandan People and the International Community on Amnesty International Report

The Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse KARUGARAMA has been heard this morning on the Voice of America defending the abominable act of Torture which is prohibited in the Rwandan Constitution and International law. Article 15 of the Rwandan Constitution is clear on this issue: No one shall be subjected to Torture, Physical abuse or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Similarly Article 3 of the European Court of Human Rights prohibits torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. There are no exceptions or limitations on this right.
This European Court of Human Rights provision goes further and applies, apart from torture, to cases of severe police violence and poor conditions in detention. The European Court of Human Rights has also held that this provision prohibits the extradition of a person to a foreign state if they are likely to be subjected to torture. This article has been interpreted as prohibiting a state from extraditing an individual to another state if they are likely to suffer the death penalty
Interestingly Hon. Tharcisse who is a qualified lawyer a custodian of Rwandan justice has admitted that his army officials in what the former RDF spokesperson Jill Rutaremara baptized as special circumstances (Ubushishozi) could allow impunity to reign un checked.
Torture under international law is characterized as Jus Cogens a crime that cannot be derogated by any state regardless of whether a country ratified the torture protocol as Minister Karugarama tries to convince some of the listeners of these international media. It is therefore immaterial whether a country ratified it or not, any country or person in the position of a government official who tortures or abets, aids torture will be held accountable individually or collectively.
The legacy of Nurnberg should be a good example to the Hon Minister of Justice that you can delay justice but you cannot prevent it; those who are in power today oppressing every human soul will one day be paid in the same currency. Justice Robert Jackson who led the Nuremberg Tribunals noted that Justice is a statement to the triumph of the rule of law in the struggle against tyranny and oppression.
The precedent set by the Nuremberg tribunal under Justice Robert Jackson is a watershed moment for all those people who are in power today especially in our country Rwanda that there is no sanctuary for the leaders who misuse power. The legal concept emerging from Nuremberg Tribunal include that, crimes are committed by individuals, not abstract entities, and therefore individuals must be held accountable to deter future crimes, that no one is above the law, and therefore no head of state or military leader can hide behind their title to commit abuses ; that crimes are so grave as to affect and endanger all of humankind, and there it is in the interests of all countries to ensure that those responsible are punished and whether in peace or conflict , a trial based upon internationally recognized principles of fairness will be recognized.
The Minister of Justice is really indifferent by telling the listeners of BBC on the Kinyarwanda programm that the aggrieved parties (the families of the tortured people or the people who have disappeared as reported by Amnesty international should invoke Habeas Corpus to his judges so that they can force the executive to produce those people mentioned in the Amnesty International report to appear in court. For the readers of this article Habeas Corpus is the court order that directs the government officials to produce a person in court. However, we all know how Rwandan courts operate, if we ask the Minister on what happened to the families of people like Major. Alex Ruzinda or Col. Augustin Kizza respectively who were kidnapped by the Rwandan security agencies and have never been seen to this very day. Unfortunately we know all these security officers, for example the person who picked Maj. Alex Ruzindana is Butera who was a Capt. at the time of kidnapping Maj. Alex, he is now a Maj. in RDF. The wife of Maj Alex, Console and the whole family appealed to the government but instead were intimidated , the same happened to the family of Col. Kizza, just to mention a few. Does the Minister think that all what has happened to all these people has been forgotten?
Has the Minister informed the public who are these security agencies who tortured these innocent civilians? When and where they were prosecuted?
The Minister should be aware as a lawyer that he will not only be asked what he did but also what he didn’t do to save the human life. People are dying on almost daily basis on his watch, the Rwandan courts which he leads are failing the expectations of many Rwandans, and they acquit a person not because he/she is innocent or guilty but because Kagame and his system want the person to be out or in prison. This is what you will one day be answerable Hon. Minister.
Jacquline Umurungi
Inyenyeri News


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