Musanze, 8 May 2017
Honorable Minister of Defence, Gen James Kabarebe has officially opened a two weeks long regional Course on “Genocide, Mass Atrocities Crimes and Transitional Justice in Peace Support Operations”, at Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA), in Musanze.
The training that started on 8 May 2017 is jointly organized by RPA and the British Peace Support Team- Eastern Africa. Participants to the course are 24 military, police and civilian officers from 8 countries namely; Comoros, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Rwanda as well as one officer from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
In his opening remarks, Gen Kabarebe urged participants to draw lessons from Genocide, Mass Atrocities Crimes in different parts of the World to enrich their experiences and use the lessons learnt in Peacekeeping Operations.
Minister Kabarebe talked about Transitional Justice from the experience of Rwanda, highlighting that the use of conventional courts to try Genocide suspects was out of question as Rwandan Society needed a justice system that could address the problem of impunity while promoting unity and reconciliation at the same time.
“As future peacekeepers you are likely to meet challenges related to transitional justice initiatives in PSO where you may deploy. You will be expected to assist, advise and contribute to the development of transitional justice mechanisms”.
From the opening session, participants headed to Kigali at Senior Officers Mess to attend, along with RDF Generals & Senior Officers, a Key Note address that was delivered by Lt Gen (Rtd) Romeo Dallaire, former Force Commander of United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR). Gen Dallaire presentation underlined the failure of the International Community and UN to stop the1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda and other mass atrocities crimes perpetrated in different parts of the World.
From the experience of Rwanda, Gen Dallaire criticised the main powers in UN system to play with interests instead of being proactive and intervene when Peace is in danger. “When the Genocide against Tutsi happened, no one was interested in stopping the Genocide at UN Headquarters. Nobody cared; there was no value to investing resources in a country where they had no direct interests”, Gen Dallaire recalled.
Gen Dallaire also called regional officers to fight use of Child Soldiers during conflicts and urged them to make a priority protection of children in PSO. “Child soldiers need to be understood as security concern. It is in your responsibility, in your concept of operations to prevent and protect children from being abused in conflicts”, the experienced Gen urged the officers.
According to the RPA Director, Col Jill Rutaremara the objective of this Course is to equip the military, police and civilian with skills and knowledge to address genocide and mass atrocity crimes by developing effective, contextual and appropriate transitional justice strategies and mechanisms.