Link: Judge rules 1st US genocide case should proceed [Associated Press]
This is really interesting. A judge in the US has ruled that the case against a Rwandan immigrant can proceed. This means that it will be the first time that a US court will hear evidence in a criminal prosecution involving proof of genocide. The judge has rejected a Justice Department request for more time in the preparation of the trial.
It is interesting but this is not actually a genocide trial. Lazare Kobagaya is charged with obtaining US citizenship unlawfully and fraud. I am guessing that the outcome of the trial is important because if Kobagaya is not a US citizen then standard extradition laws do not apply and he can be sent back to Rwanda or the ICTR tribunal in Tanzania for trial. The ICTR has been ordered to wrap up its trials now though and so the likely destination will be Rwanda.
Link: High Court halts extradition of four men wanted for Rwanda genocide [Times Online]
It is especially significant in light of recent occurrences in the UK. Last month, four Rwandans were successful in their High Court application to block their extradition to Rwanda on genocide charges. The High Court ruled in favour of the applicants due to concerns that they might not receive a fair trial in Rwanda.
While Rwanda abolished the death penalty in August 2007, conditions in Rwandan jails are overcrowded and substandard and there are widespread concerns that the government is not impartial enough to grant genocide perpetrators fair trials. The international community and the UN is still very much involved in the whole process of bringing these people to justice I do hold hopes for the possibility of fair trials in Rwanda in future.
Nevertheless, depending on the outcome of the case in the US (in Kansas), people may be more or less inclined in future to extradite alleged perpetrators to Rwanda.
Link: Jack Straw: Rwandan genocide suspect could face UK trial [Gazette News]
In the meantime, UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw is considering changing UK law to make genocide an extra-territorial offence. This is in reaction to the successful High Court application mentioned above. I’m going to have to do much more research on that term but (for example) the Criminal Jurisdiction Act 1975 sought to try offences relating to Northern Ireland as offences if they “would, if taking place in Northern Ireland, constitute an offence”. Hence, if successful, this amendment to the law would try genocide cases on the basis that the acts would, if they took place in the UK, have constituted an offence.