UK Parliament War Crimes group hears call for action – yet again!

6 June 2023: London, Westminster – Houses of Parliament

At a special event this afternoon, a group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords met to discuss the pressing issue of the continued failure by the UK to address its fundamental failure to bring alleged mass murderers to justice.

The All-Party group for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, (APPG), made up of 22 parliamentarians from across the political divide, listened to a highly-charged speech by the Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Johnston Busingye. In a 15 minute address, the former Rwandan Justice Minister noted with exasperation that the UK legal process against the five Rwandan genocide suspects has so far taken 17 years – and there is still no end in sight. While other countries in Europe, North America and the UN have extradited suspects back to Kigali to stand trial where their alleged crimes took place or have held them to account in their own national court system, the UK has managed precisely nothing. There has, to date been no justice – and no updates since 2018 as to when – and if – justice will take place. Busingye noted, with the Kabuga trial at the UNIRMCT currently suspended and likely to collapse due to the old age and infirmity of the accused – as happened to the Prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta last year in Paris – the UK must either act now or face the very real prospect that the accused here will also escape for the same reason.

‘The suspects are in plain sight,’ Busingye noted; ‘survivors could, and have run into them, innocent Rwandan and UK citizens could be sharing a bus, a café, a neighbourhood with individuals accused of genocide.’

The question is whether the ‘UK will go down in history as the only country in the West that knowingly sheltered genocide fugitives indefinitely. Rwandans are counting on and looking up to you.’

The APPG had originally been set up to campaign for the first War Crimes Bill to be made law in the late 1980s after it was discovered the UK had no legal basis to hold the suspected dozens – if not hundreds – of former Nazi war criminals who had made their homes in the UK after the Second World War, to account. The group then disbanded after the Bill became law – though only two Nazi mass murderers were put on trial as a result. It was re-formed recently to ‘look into matters relating to the presence of alleged Rwandan war criminals in the UK and the prosecution of those who participated in the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis in 1994.’ The make-up of the APPG can be seen here.

It remains to be seen if these parliamentarians can produce any action given the eight decades of failure and determined inaction that UK governments have actively promoted with regard to holding genocide suspects and war criminals to account.