Should genocide suspects be allowed to avoid trial?

Yesterday’s decision taken by the High Court not to extradite four men suspected of involvement in the Rwandan genocide may have been an historic step, but it is deeply unsatisfactory.

The High Court was quite right to insist that these men should not be sent back to Rwanda where they may face an unfair trial, in keeping with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to a fair trial.

But surely these men could be brought to trial in a country where they are guaranteed a fair trial. 

It goes without saying that genocide is a charge which must be taken seriously. One only has to read the moving interview of Révérien Rurangwa to be reminded of the horrors and brutalities of genocide. Révérien who was just 15 when he lost all 43 members of his family and is now permanently disfigured after himself being brutally attacked. 

And if there’s clear evidence that suggests that a person was involved in committing some of the worst crimes known to mankind, then they should be brought to justice.

I recognise that to date the UK doesn’t try these types of cases that pre-date 2001.  But the UK signed up to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide decades ago.  Surely they have a responsibility to seek to address these crimes if suspects are here in the UK?

Of course, these four men have not been found guilty and so are innocent until proven otherwise.  But no-one suspected of such heavy charges should be allowed to avoid trial, simply on account of a technicality should they?

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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