Charles Munyaneza

04.06.2013 ( Last modified: 06.06.2018 )
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facts

Charles Munyaneza was born in 1958 in Rwanda. During the period covered by the allegations, he was the mayor of the commune of Kinyamakara, in the Gikongoro prefecture, of southern Rwanda. Munyaneza was also known to be one of the closest allies of Aloys Simba, an officer in the Rwandan army who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in December 2005 for genocide and extermination as crimes against humanity.

Munyaneza was accused of incitement to kill Tutsis, but also of having contributed to the organization of the massacre of Tutsis in the prefectures of Gikongoro and Butare.

According to a report issued by African Rights (a human rights association based in London), Munyaneza coordinated a series of large scale massacres, notably at the Isonga Centre for Experimental Research of the Rwandan College of Agricultural Sciences in Ruhashya, in Butare prefecture, as well as at the Cyanika catholic church located in Gikongoro province. Munyaneza was also reported to have ordered the erection of roadblocks in the Kinyamakara province in order to make identity checks resulting in the arrest of Tutsis. In addition, he was said to have personally participated in some of the killings.

On or about 19 or 20 April 1994, Munyaneza and Aloys Simba, amongst others, were said to have organised and ordered the encirclement of and attack on the Murambi technical school, where 50’000 Tutsis had sought refuge from the massacres. Only about a dozen people survived the attack on the Murambi technical school which took place on 21 April 1994.

Towards the end of June 1994, faced with the advance of the troops of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, an opposition movement composed essentially of Tutsi refugees and led by Paul Kagame), Munyaneza fled Rwanda. He went into hiding first of all in South Africa. Subsequently, in 1999 he moved to Great Britain, where he lodged a request for asylum. In 2002, Munyaneza acquired the status of political refugee.

On 29 January 2006, the British newspaper the “Sunday Times” revealed in a report that Munyaneza was living peacefully with his family in the town of Bedford, Great Britain, where he was employed as a cleaner and living under a false identity under the name of “Charles Muneza”.

legal procedure

The ICTR Prosecutor has exhorted Britain’s authorities to pursue and judge Munyaneza for the alleged crimes.

In February 2006, Rwanda issued an international arrest warrant against Munyaneza for these alleged crimes against humanity and genocide.

In addition, Munyaneza is also under prosecution by the British immigration authorities, for falsifying his identity in order to obtain refugee status in 2002.

On 28 December 2006, Charles Munyaneza was arrested along with three other Rwandans (Célestin Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Vincent Bajinya) on charges of having taken part in the 1994 genocide.
 He denied the charges against him.

An extradition hearing began on 24 September 2007 in London. The Magistrate`s court decided on 6 June 2008 to extradite the four men to face charges in Rwanda. On 8 April 2009 the High Court reversed the decision stating that there was “a real risk the four persons would suffer a flagrant denial of justice by reason of their likely inability to adduce the evidence of supporting witnesses” if returned to Rwanda to face trial. The court therefore ordered their release.

On 30 May 2013, following a new extradition request by the Rwandan authorities, the UK police arrested Emmanuel Nteziryayo, Charles Munyaneza, Vincent Bajinya, Celestin Ugirashebuja and Célestin Mutabaruka. On 21 December 2015, Britain’s court denied once again the extradition request from Rwandan government. This decision emphasis that the guarantees of a fair trial and the respect of fundamental rights aren’t bring by the Rwandan legislation despite its evolution.

New extradition hearings started in front of the High Court on 28 November 2016.

In January 2018, Rwandan Prosecutor General, Jean Bosco Mutangana and Prosecutor Jean Bosco Siboyintore, Head of the Genocide Suspects Tracking Unit at the National Public Prosecution Authority, travelled to London to request the United Kingdom the opening of an investigation against the five individuals suspected of having taken part in the genocide. They recalled the obligation of the United Kingdom to try or extradite such individuals. As a result, the War Crimes Unit reported that it is assessing the available evidence.

highlight

The High Court decision of 8 April 2009 is thought to be the first time an English court has ever blocked an extradition request from a foreign government on the grounds that it would violate Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to a fair trial.

context

Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA (ICTR)

In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. Since its inception, 92 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR. Some proceedings are however still ongoing.

The ICTR is primed to close down in 2015.

Regarding what will happen to the functions and activities that will outlive the ICTR, the UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.

THE GACACA COURTS

In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.

Fact Sheet
Name: Charles Munyaneza
Nationality: Rwanda
Context: Rwanda
Charges: Genocide,Crimes against humanity
Status: Indicted
Judgement Place: Great Britain
Particulars: Extradition to Rwanda denied by the British authorities on 21 December 2015