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Society | Human rights

Stop biasness, Rwanda Tribunal told

afrol News, 2 June - Human Rights Watch has urged the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to indict senior officers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the ruling party who were allegedly involved in the1994 genocide.

In a letter addressed to the ICTR's chief prosecutor Hassan Jallow, the rights organisation said failure to prosecute the alleged genocide perpetrators from RPF leaves the impression that it is delivering only victor's justice.

The HRW has also accused the Tribunal of only prosecuting persons belonging to only one side leaving behind the RPF members who have allegedly killed more that 40, 000 people.

The ruling RPF, however, is internationally renowned for having put an end to the 1994 genocide by toppling the genocidal regime. Some RPF members nonetheless are accused of having been too brutal during the fighting that put an end to the genocide, even killing civilians.

In June 2008, Prosecutor Jallow decided to transfer files of RPF suspects to Rwanda for a domestic prosecution, a move that was questioned by two tribunal chambers fearing that Rwanda could not guarantee fair trial for suspects.

"Given the tribunal's decision not to transfer genocide cases to Rwanda for fear of political interference by the Rwandan authorities, it is hard to understand why the prosecutor sent those same authorities a sensitive Rwandan Patriotic Front case for trial," said the executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth.

Rwandan authorities arrested four military officers in June 2008 and charged them with war crimes for the 1994 killings of 15 civilians, including 13 clergy and a 9-year-old boy," the organisation said.

It said the trial proceedings lasted for few days with two of the officers confessed to the killing and were sentenced to eight years in prison, which were later reduced to five years on appeal, further stating that two more senior officers were acquitted.

The rights organisation said crimes committed by the RPF had been well documented, including by a UN Commission of Experts in 1994, which concluded that the group perpetrated serious breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.

Mr Roth said "Prosecutor Jallow should provide his assessment when he briefs the Security Council and make a commitment to seek indictments for other Rwandan Patriotic Front cases. He further said that failure to do so betrays the rights of the victims' families to obtain justice and risks undermining the tribunal's legitimacy.

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