Vincent Murekezi blocks extradition process
The High Court in Lilongwe Monday granted defence lawyers leave for judicial review and giving direction on the state’s decision to use the recently signed Malawi- Rwanda Extradition Treaty in the process of extraditing jailed Rwandan genocide suspect, Vincent Murekezi.
Murekezi is challenging the treaty on the basis of what his lawyers say is the use of a wrong minister in signing the treaty, lack of treaty domestication, absence of an extradition request and failure to lay subsequent legislation before Parliament.
The court already set Monday next week for resumption of the extradition process after dismissing it in February due to Rwanda’s absence on the list of designated countries for the purposes of Malawi’s Extradition Act.
In an application for the review that lawyer Wapota Kita filed at Lilongwe Registry on March 28, the defence faults the involvement of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila in the execution of the Act.
Kita argues that the foreign affairs minister has no such powers under Section 3 of the Act.
Murekezi is also challenging Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia’s decision to implement the Extradition Treaty when it has not entered into force by way of domestication as stipulated under Section 211 of the Constitution.
The defence is also against Chiumia’s decision to implement subsidiary legislation—namely, (Extradition (Designated Countries) (Amendment) Order 2017—without laying it before Parliament as stipulated in Section 58 of the Constitution.
According to Kita, it is also wrong for the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security to move the court to extradite Murekezi under the wrong treaty when no request for extradition has been made as provided for under the same wrong treaty.
“A declaration that the first respondent [Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] acted ultra vires and unreasonable in the Wednesbury [irrational] sense and that his decision to enter into the Extradition Treaty between Malawi and Rwanda is null and void,” the application reads.
Murekezi wants the court to quash the Extradition Treaty between Malawi and Rwanda and the Extradition (Designated Countries) (Amendment) Order of 2017.
Towards the end of last year, the government of Rwanda requested Malawi to extradite Murekezi to that country to face justice for his alleged participation in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
But his lawyers asked the court to dismiss the extradition process because Rwanda was not on the list of designated countries and genocide is not listed as an offence in the Extradition Act
On February 3 this year, Magistrate Patrick Chirwa found that genocide is a relevant or extraditable offence under the Act but since Rwanda was not on list of countries where Malawi could extradite a person to, the court found it necessary to dismiss the matter.
Chirwa said the state was at liberty to regularise the process through a fresh bilateral arrangement with Rwanda, or in the event that the arrangement already exists, simply through Chiumia exercising her statutory discretion in designating Rwanda by order for the purposes of the matter.
On February 23, Kasaila and his Rwandan counterpart Johnston Busingye signed an extradition agreement which Senior Chief State Advocate Steven Kayuni used to file for continuing the process.
Murekezi is currently serving an unrelated five-year jail term for corruption.
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