Witnesses in the trial of Ngenzi and Barahira are worried about their identities’ exposure, which happened in the appeal trial at Paris assize court from May 2nd 2018, which is scheduled to end on July 6th 2018. This was brought on table during the talks RCN Justice et Democratie together with their partners had with the committees of survivors’ organizations operating in Kabarondo sector on June 19th 2018 at Kabarondo sector office.
During the previous trial, the identities of witnesses were masked, and then they felt secure. But surprisingly in the appeal trial hearing, witnesses’ identities were publically exposed either in the court or in media. This made witnesses worrying about what may become their security later in their day today’s lives, down there in their villages.
Denis Isirabahenda is a member of Ibuka’s committee at Kabarondo sector, he said that he is worried about the way witnesses’ identities were exposed and even what they said during their testimonies in an appeal trial of Ngenzi and Barahira. He recalled during gacaca trials, where there were some cases one could testify against genocide perpetrators and later his or her children were aggressed somewhere else in the village.
Madame Placidie Mukantabana is the counselor at Kayonza district level, she said that she is worried about this identities’ exposure because not only for their security, there is also some witnesses that were violated during genocide against Tutsis of 1994, she sees their identities’ exposure as something dangerous that can harm their feelings and their humanity.
Some have differently views
Eulad Rwigema is one of witnesses in this trial who testified during the first trial and the appeal. He said that what he thinks as reason why this time Rwandan prosecution did not oppose the exposure of witnesses’ identities, is the level of reconciliation among Rwandans. Rwigema sees the rate of reconciliation around 85%, he believes that the security of witnesses cannot be disturbed, but also believes that Rwandan security institutions are able to protect citizens against all harms.
On behalf of RCN, Mr. Juvens Ntampuhwe, a professional lawyer who was also heading the delegation in these talks, said that the court can never disclose the identity of a witness without his or her consent. He said “the witness has the right to ask for their identity to be masked.” He also referred to a case in this same trial on June 15th 2018, where a witness’s identity was not disclosed, the court had to discuss about either approve it or not, because the side of accused had asked for this witness not to be heard in the court, but after the discussion they allowed the witness to testify with the masked identity.
For a security issue Mr. Ntampuhwe said that if a witness feels like his or her security is threatened because of what he or she testified, they should report it directly to the national police to be protected as witnesses.
Francine Andrew Mukase