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Rwanda Appeals EACJ Judgment in Soldier's Detention Case

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, April 24, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Rwanda Attorney General Monday asked the EACJ's Appellate Division to overrule a judgment of its lower court declaring the detention of Lt. Col Rugigana Ngabo by the Rwandan government as being in breach of the fundamental and operational principles of the East African Community.

The First Instance Division of the Court had in December last year ruled in favor of Ms. Plaxeda Rugumba (sister to Lt. Col Ngabo) who challenged the Rwandan government's action in Reference No. 8 of 2010.

In its judgment, the Court also declared the five-month detention of Lt. Col. Ngabo unlawful according to the laws of Rwanda, and that the continued detention of the subject without trial in a competent court was a breach of the same.

Appearing before the Appellate Division of the Court, Mr. Aimable Havugiyaremye, counsel for the Appellant (Rwandan Government) argued that not only did the First Instance Division overstep its mandate, the Court did not respect the Vienna Convention and Law of Treaties and therefore did not interpret the matter in good faith.

Mr. Havugiyaremye further argued that since Lt. Col. Ngabo had been arraigned before the National Military Court of Rwanda, the EACJ's intervention lacked legal basis. He also noted that the matter had been filed out of time, as Article 30(2) of the EAC Treaty provides that proceedings should be instituted within two months of enactment or publication of the directive, decision or action complained about.

Mr. Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, representing the respondent Ms. Plaxeda Rugumba asked the Court to uphold the decision of its First Instance Division, submitting that the EACJ had jurisdiction to entertain the matter according to Article 27 (1) of the Treaty.

On the issue of filing out of time, Mr. Rwakafuzi argued that the detention is a continuous action and that every day the subject is detained there is a new cause for action. He argued that if limitation were allowed as argued by the Appellant it would lead to limited justice for East African citizens.

The Appeal was heard by Justices Harold Nsekela, President, Philip Tunoi, Vice President, Emillie Kayitesi, Laurent Nzosaba and James Ogoola.