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EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission
Speech by EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger on behalf of HRVP Catherine Ashton on the case of Mrs Victoire Ingabire
23 May 2013
Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament.
The improvement of the Justice system in Rwanda is crucial to consolidate the rule of law in the country.
The EU, together with Member States and the international community, has been firmly engaged in this process, politically and through its cooperation instruments.
Rwanda has already started reforming the Penal Code on human rights-sensitive issues (abolishing the death penalty, allowing abortion in special cases, decriminalizing homosexuality). The condition of prisons has also been improved. These developments, for instance, paved the way for re-launching judicial cooperation, extraditions and transfers of cases, between Rwandese and non-Rwandese Courts, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the European Court of Human Rights, and European national courts, with regard in particular to some specific cases related to the Rwandese genocide.
However, this process is not over. A number of controversial laws still need clarification as well as the scope of their application. This includes, inter alia, the Genocide Ideology law, the media laws and the freedom of association laws.
Also, the EU has been following closely Victoire Ingabire's trial. Her sentence to eight years in jail last October for conspiracy as well as for denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has been immediately subject to an appeal made by her lawyers and by the Prosecutor; the Rwanda Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this appeal, but a decision should intervene within a reasonable period of time.
In this regard, the EU is particularly committed to an unequivocal independence of the Rwanda Justice as well as the need to ensure that the rights of Ms Ingabire for a fair appeal and trial are taken in consideration.
These concerns are regularly raised together with EU member states in Kigali with the authorities.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and its future developments.
While it is important to recognize that political stakeholders in Rwanda, whoever they might be, can't ignore the extent and the consequences of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, it is also crucial to ensure that genuine reconciliation in the country is promoted on the basis of a fair and objective Justice.
These are key building blocks towards an open political system, to close the recurrent rifts in Rwanda’s society and to avoid setbacks in the Rwanda’s ongoing stabilisation process.