Rwanda govt must intensify war on genocide ideology

Saturday January 11 2014

Rwanda this week launched commemorative activities in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide.

While the activities will focus on unity and reconciliation, there is a need to double efforts in combating genocide ideology, which could be slowly creeping back.

Specifically, a new report by the Supreme Court shows that genocide ideology cases are on the rise, registering an increase of 33 per cent in 2012/2013 after a steady decline in 2009/2010.

The period between 2011 and 2013 has seen a sharp rise in the cases presented in courts of law, with a total of 772 recorded in 2012/2013 compared with 500 in 2011/2012.

About 244 people were involved in assassination-related charges linked to the genocide ideology while 164 faced charges of promoting genocide ideology and ethnic divisions.

While these figures are no cause for alarm with the return of peace and stability in the country, these cases pose a significant threat to the gains made so far in uniting and reconciling the country, in particular if the underlying issues are not addressed.


And while the Gacaca Courts completed their work, concerns have been raised not only about the increasing appeals before the contemporary courts but also that the traditional courts failed to compensate survivors for their losses.

With the forthcoming official winding up in 2014 of the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the government will have to take up the responsibility of tracking genocide fugitives and arraigning them in court — a very costly but important mission that must be accomplished to provide justice to the survivors.

Therefore, as we commemorate the genocide, concerns regarding justice and reconciliation are fundamentally significant goals that need to be addressed.

In particular, there is a need to balance the needs of the survivors who continue to live in despair. Addressing the concerns of the survivors is a challenge which requires further attention if peacebuilding is to succeed in that country.