Too old to be judged? Justice delayed, justice denied!

By Marcel Kabanda
On 11 August 2023 at 03:34

Views expressed in this article are of the author. Marcel Kabanda is the President of IBUKA France.

Rwandan businessman Félicien Kabuga, alleged financier of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, will benefit from an "indefinite suspension" of the ongoing proceedings against him, as ordered by the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals tasked with judging him on August 7, 2023.

Too ill and too old, the man cannot be judged. In the name of fairness, he must be released. And contrary to what was announced, the Mechanism’s prosecutor will not even be able to continue presenting the evidence he had gathered, which had led to his arrest. Outrageous.

This man was born under a lucky star. He succeeded in everything he undertook. Before the genocide, he was a prosperous businessman. Wealthy, he married his daughters to the sons of the former President of the Republic, Juvénal Habyarimana, and a high-ranking minister in his government.

The genocidal enterprise that he was accused of financing was a success. Over a million deaths in less than three months will earn him a place in the criminal records! The charges weighing on his shoulders are very heavy. One of them concerns the creation of RTLM, a media outlet whose decisive role in the execution of the genocide is well-known. History will remember that the international community only managed to apprehend this man when he was no longer capable of being held accountable for his actions. It will also remember that he was not hiding in the woods. Under false names that he changed frequently, he traveled between the capitals of countries that were supposed to collaborate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

We must now admit that Félicien Kabuga managed to organize his impunity by hiding under false identities and emerged without risking a trial. All this fuss since his arrest leads to one thing: Félicien Kabuga now carries his true name, he no longer needs to hide, and upon his death, his family will be able to mourn him, accompany him, and decorate his grave without needing to hide. He will die innocent.

It is to the credit of the UN Mechanism to grant Kabuga what it would have denied to the victims. The militiamen he is accused of funding spared no babies, elderly, sick, pregnant women, or the mentally ill. We ask the UN Mechanism for one thing: could it, for once, show empathy and courage towards the victims by receiving representatives of the survivors, organizing a civil trial, and granting them access to Félicien Kabuga’s file?

The prosecutor’s commitment to redouble efforts to apprehend other fugitives is merely a very fragile consolation. We now know the truth. They will be too old and too sick to face justice. On the other hand, they now know that they have a "secure" way out of anonymity: surrender to the UN Mechanism. They will not be tried because of their age. But they will regain their identity. The international community should find a way to repair its failure in the genocide against the Tutsi. The UN Mechanism, solely concerned with serving the law, has shown its inability to deliver justice to the victims.

The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals recently suspended Kabuga's trial indefinitely.