Britain harbours a guilty secret which should worry all decent people who care about its role in the world
The souls of those who were murdered in the Rwandan Genocide cry out for justice. But from Britain justice has at least been delayed and at worst denied, says Andrew Mitchell MP.
In 1945 Britain was at the forefront of the prosecution of Nazi criminals and genocide perpetrators at Nuremberg.
It started within 4 months of the the end of the war. The prosecutions and trials were completed within 10 months.
We are proud of our reputation around the world for promoting accountability and standing up for certain important values. And we also know that less than 25 years ago a terrible genocide took place in the heart of Africa where nearly a million Tutsi people were murdered, by their Hutu neighbours over a 90-day period – a faster killing rate than Hitler achieved with all the industrial mechanisms of the Holocaust.
And Britain harbours a guilty secret which should worry all decent people who care about Britain’s role in the world.
Once the Rwandan killing stopped those responsible for these appalling events, fled the scene of their crimes. Many escaped over the borders into neighbouring countries. But the richer and better connected – the bigger fish – escaped to Europe and North America, often with the active support or passive acquiescence of the French Government.
Over the intervening years most have returned voluntarily to Rwanda and been processed through the Rwandan judicial system. Some have faced justice in the Courts of the countries to which they fled and others have been extradited back to Rwanda to face justice there – including from the US, Canada, France, Belgium and Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Britain sadly is a glaring exception: Extradition proceedings started here in the UK more than a decade ago in respect of five alleged genocide perpetrators. But in spite of a court ruling that there was a prima facie case against all five , the British Courts declined to extradite.
The British taxpayer has already forked out more that £3 million in legal costs and 4 of the 5 are living on benefits, including Housing Benefit.
The Rwandan authorities having failed to secure extradition in Britain in the Lower Courts are disinclined to proceed to the Supreme Court and have, therefore, asked the UK to undertake the trial here. In spite of all the evidence already being available in the UK the Metropolitan Police have indicated that it could take a further 10 years to process these cases.
The souls of those who were murdered in the genocide cry out for justice. But from Britain justice has at least been delayed and at worst denied.
In the interest of those facing these dreadful allegations as well as the reputation of British justice we should surely expect these 5 alleged genocidaires to be on trial at the Old Bailey by the end of this year.
I end with the words spoken last weekend by the distinguished Rwandan Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Johnston Busingye, who when he came here to Britain our Director of Public Prosecution, Alison Saunders , could not even find the time to see him. He said this: “anyone who cares about British values and justice should be ashamed. The UK will go down in history as the only country in Europe that knowingly shielded alleged Rwandan genocidaires from justice.”
Andrew Mitchell is Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield.
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