Our court system must be given the respect it deserves

It’s times like these that I regret not joining the legal profession, having opted instead for a career in the media.  I would have loved being part of the Leon Mugesera and Victoire Ingabire and Co cases because of the controversial nature of these trials. It’s not every day that a demagogue, infamous for calling for the murder of a section of populace, is expelled from a western nation and delivered into the arms of the victims. And it isnt everyday that the constitutionality of a law is challenged by a defendant, needing the involvement of the Supreme Court.  It’s exciting times.

However, I have been somewhat disappointed in the antic of the defendants, Mugesera and Ingabire.  First, Mugesera asks that the trial be held in French, despite the fact that he is fluent in Kinyarwanda and his 1992 incendiary speech, which preceded his flight to first Spain and then Canada, was in his mother tongue. Certainly, he must have been playing a silly joke on all of us when he made this request. Really, did he really think that the Court would roll over and allow him to make a mockery of the proceedings? But at least he hasn’t childishly thrown his toys out of the pram and refused to ‘play’. He is letting the case proceed in his roundabout way. I can’t say the same about Mrs. Ingabire.

She’s facing serious charges of terrorism, endangering state security and genocide ideology. Instead of doing everything possible to defend herself of the charges, she has decided that it’s a good idea to withdraw from the case and dismiss her lawyers. I don’t know what advice she is getting but all I can say is that it is bad. Yes, she will get a few headlines, but at the end of the day the charges won’t mysteriously disappear. Nor will the evidence vanish either. So, Mrs. Ingabire, play for the cameras all you like, at the end of the day nothing will change.

I’m personally sick and tired of hearing the ‘Rwandan legal system is a dud’ mantra because it simply isnt supported by facts. Why then would the ICTR, the European Court of Justice, the Swedish, Dutch, American and Canadian court systems send genocide fugitives back to Rwanda for trial? None of these organisations and nations would’ve sent Mugesera, Jean Uwinkindi, Enos Kagaba and Jean-Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka to Rwanda if they believed that they would not get a fair trial here. She is playing for the cameras, which is her right. But, in my humble opinion, she is disrespecting the entire judiciary. She must be allowed to get away with it. The trial must continue, with or without her.

On another topic altogether, the World Bank has confirmed the appointment of Jim Yong Kim as its new president. His opponent, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was the first person to seriously challenge a US candidate since the organisation was founded at the Bretton Woods conference after the Second World War.

Ahead of the announcement, Okonjo-Iweala said: “You know this thing is not really being decided on merit. It is voting with political weight and shares, and therefore the United States will get it,” she told reporters.

I personally thought that her candidacy was a huge joke. I found it amusing that she thought that she could compete against a candidate supported by the Bank’s majority shareholder. Instead of complaining about US and European influence, what developing nations must do is earn the right to sit at the table. If you want to have a majority shareholding, you must buy the shares. You cannot be a minority shareholder and then want to choose a company’s CEO. What developing nations need to do is justify the ‘noise’ they are making. Pull more people out of poverty, innovate, have strong systems and become major players at the international level. Only then will you EARN the right to play with the big boys.

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