REDRESS calls on the UK authorities to initiative an investigation into five Rwandan genocide suspects

REDRESS is calling on the Metropolitan Police to initiate a prompt criminal investigation into five Rwandan genocide suspects, who have been living in the UK for more than 15 years with a view to determining whether to prosecute them in the UK.

The five men are accused by the Rwandan government of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994, when an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. The charges they face in Rwanda include genocide; conspiring to commit genocide; complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.

In a letter sent today to the UK Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command – responsible for investigating genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – REDRESS asks the Metropolitan Police to take immediate steps to investigate the men, after the High Court ruled on 28 July 2017 that the five men could not be extradited to Rwanda because they would “risk a flagrant denial of a fair trial”, which would be in breach of the UK’s international human rights obligations.

This is the second extradition request by the Rwandan government, which has been rejected by UK courts since 2006. The first extradition request was refused on similar grounds.

In 2009, the High Court rejected a first extradition request of four of the suspects – Emmanuel Nteziryayo, Charles Munyaneza, Celestin Ugirashebuna and Vincent Brown (or Bajinya) – even though the Court noted then that on the facts before the Court, the individuals had “a case to answer”.

In 2013, the four men were arrested again along with a fifth suspect – Celestin Mutabaruka – following a second extradition request, but a Westminster Magistrates Court rejected their extradition to Rwanda in December 2015. They have been on bail ever since.

In its letter to the Metropolitan Police, REDRESS notes that the High Court agreed with the findings of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court that there is a prima facie case against each of the individuals, and that therefore sufficient evidence exists to arrest the suspects.

REDRESS also stresses the fact that the UK has jurisdiction over these crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 as the suspects reside in the UK.

“After the 2009 ruling, changes were introduced in UK law to facilitate the exercise of jurisdiction by UK courts over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed abroad since 1991,” said Carla Ferstman, Director of REDRESS. “The changes were made because of the facts of this particular case. Now that it is clear that extradition is not a viable option, it is time for the competent authorities to use the law that exists and proceed to determine whether a UK prosecution is viable.”

REDRESS notes that several European countries – among them, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands – have successfully prosecuted perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and several have established specialised war crimes units dedicated to international crimes, to respond to the challenges of investigating and prosecuting these crimes.

“As the High Court judges note in their judgment, it would be highly undesirable that Britain would become a haven for genocidaires fleeing trial or seeking impunity,” added Ferstman.

In its letter to the Metropolitan Police, REDRESS has suggested that standard bail conditions similar to those in place during the extradition proceedings should be imposed while a criminal investigation is underway.

The High Court, has given an opportunity to the Rwandan government, to present additional information to support their argument that the men can face a fair trial in Rwanda before the decision becomes final. The Rwandan government has until Friday 18 August 2017 to indicate if they want to take this opportunity. If so, detailed submissions must be filed by 8 September 2017.

The High Court judgment from 28 July 2017 can be read here.

For more information or for an interview, please contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS Head of Communications, on +44 (0) 207 793 1777 or [email protected].