The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet welcomed the arrest of Rwandan genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga who had been on the run for more than two decades.
Kabuga, who is accused of financing the 1994 Rwanda genocide which killed an estimated one million people, was arrested at an apartment in a suburb of the French capital Paris on Saturday. According to France’s Justice ministry, he had been living under a false identity.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Bachelet said that the arrest of Kabuga, a Hutu businessman, highlighted the “long reach of international criminal accountability”.
“No one committing international crimes should think that the passage of time means they can evade justice and will never be held to account,” Bachelet said.
Bachelet added that the example of the Rwanda genocide and Kabuga’s case should serve as a reminder why the fight against the dissemination of propaganda must be sustained.
“As we continue today to see dangerously false news, racial and ethnic hatred and incitement to violence being disseminated widely, the case of Kabuga and the effects of the propaganda broadcast by Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines are a stark reminder of where such language can lead, and why the fight against it is so important.”
Bachelet praised the efforts of Prosecutor Serge Brammertz and his team at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the French authorities and law enforcement authorities in other countries that collectively contributed to Kabuga’s arrest.
Bachelet concluded by saying that she hoped that Kabuga’s arrest would encourage countries to track down seven other people indicted on similar charges and are still at large and have them account for the crimes they are accused of.
“Finally, and by no means least, I would like to pay tribute to the many victims of the Rwandan Genocide who have long waited to see Kabuga, and the seven other people indicted on similar charges who are still at large, answer in court for the extremely grave charges against them.”
Kabuga was due to appear before a court in Paris on Tuesday. He had been indicted in 1997 on seven criminal counts all relating to the genocide and had a $5 million reward for his capture.
The court is expected to outline the legal procedure before handing over the case to investigative judges who will determine whether to hand Kabuga to the International Criminal Court.