|Picture Credit: flickr.com/hoteldelphi
Security Council Resolution 1966 established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to conclude the remaining tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The Security Council established the ICTR under Chapter VII of the UN Charter through Resolution 855.
The Boston Review
publishes an exchange on the limitations of legal justice in post-genocidal situations. The Rwanda Genocide and the Limits of Law
(April/May 2002), discusses "how best to restore health to a society smashed by devastating violence." "Justice or Therapy?"
(Summer 2002) criticizes the first article's prescription, "substituting therapy for justice", and characterizes it as "ventures into dangerous moral territory."
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On August 22, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) opened the hearing of the closing arguments in the trial of former MRND leaders. The MRND was the ruling party in 1994, when an estimated 800.000 people were killed. The accused, former President of MRND Matthieu Ngirumpatse and former vice President Edourd Karemera, are charged with genocide, incitement to commit genocide and for other crimes against humanity committed by other members their party. The trial has been ongoing since 2003, and is now on its 374th trial day. However, the Chamber expects the judgment to be handed down before the end of this year. (Hirondelle News Agency)
In June 2011, the ICTR convicted Pauline Nyiramasuhuko for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including rape. As Nyiramasuhuko is the first women convicted of genocide, this article examines the impact of the conviction on women’s rights. The author asserts that Nyiramasuhuko’s convictions are a victory for sexual violence, as they illustrates that sexual violence is an “effective weapon of war”, specifically when it is ordered by officials. The convictions also counter the “overused and dangerous justification” that “boys will be boys” in cases mass rape. Ultimately, the author advocates personal responsibility for actions, and challenges the notion that sexual violence is inevitable.
In an unprecedented move, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has referred the case of Jean Uwinkindi, a pastor indicted for genocide to Rwanda. Though previous judges were unwilling to refer cases to national courts, the current chamber has acknowledged Rwanda’s recent changes to its law. While Rwanda has made a sincere and positive effort to change their domestic law, both the Rwandan government and the ICTR must ensure that Uwinkindi’s trail is conducted fairly, legitimately and in accordance with international law in order to bring justice for the victims of the Rwandan genocide.
As the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda nears expiration, human rights organizations are denouncing its failure to prosecute members of the victorious Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The RPF, fighting under the command of incumbent President Paul Kagame, led a campaign of systematic and widespread killings against Hutus as it made its way to Kigali in 1994. No senior commander has been prosecuted for these crimes, which continue to be presented as spontaneous and isolated incidents. (Crimes of War Project)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written a letter to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) urging the indictment of senior officers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by current President of Rwanda Paul Kagame. The Tutsi-led RPF was responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in response to the Rwandan government campaign led by extremist Hutu militia, aimed at wiping out the Tutsi population. While the ICTR was set up to charge those responsible for the 1994 atrocities, HRW is concerned that the “tribunal’s failure to address the war crimes committed by the RPF risks leaving the impression that it is delivering only Victor’s justice”.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced former military director Theoneste Bagosora to life imprisonment after holding him responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Although the tribunal plans to finish its trials by the end of 2009, it has not yet prosecuted any of the serious crimes by members of the Rwandese Patriotic Front. (Crimes of War)
In 2002, the Rwandan government launched multiple Gacaca courts to prosecute perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in a traditional way. Contrary to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, that has only tried 13 cases in 14 years, Gacaca courts have dealt with approximately 200,000 cases. In spite of the caseload they handle, Gacaca courts are subject to criticism because they mainly focus on reconciliation and because the judges do not have a legal education. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
Critics of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda accuse the court of being bias for only focusing on the Hutus involvement in the 1994 genocide and ignoring crimes committed by the minority Tutsis. The Tribunal has also neglected to pursue French officials whom the Rwandan government claims were directly involved in the genocide. This Reuters article questions whether the court can set new standards of international justice or if it is driven by political motivations to "create impunity for one favored party" as a "victors tribunal."
The ICTR's mandate will expire by the end of 2008, and Rwanda wishes to take over the tribunal's caseload. In a meeting with President Paul Kagame, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his support for the request, as well as his appreciation for the efforts Rwanda has undergone in preparation. President Kagame has waived the death penalty, detention facilities are improving and significant judicial reforms have been implemented. However, the final decision to transfer cases lies with the ICTR judges. (New Times)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced Francois Karera, prefect of the Kigali-Rural region, to life in prison. The ICTR judges charged Karera with crimes against humanity for commanding several attacks against Tutsis in the 1994 genocide. The UN Security Council set up the ICTR at the end of 1994 after the genocide, to investigate the crimes. (UN News)
Detainees held in Arusha, Tanzania protest against the proposed transfer of three suspects to Kigali to stand trial in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The three suspects are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The protestors argue that the ICTR is not independent and the judiciary is not impartial. Further, they argue that the government in Kigali is led by alleged masterminds of the 1994 killings which claimed the lives of over 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. (Daily News)
The International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) confirms the arrest of former Minister of Planning, Augustin Ngirabatware, who is also the son-in-law of the ICTRs most wanted person, Felicien Kabuga. Ngirabatware will be charged with a range of crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Although the ICTR is approaching the end of its term, the Office of the ICTRs prosecutor denies that Ngirabatware will be transferred to a national court. (Hirondelle News Agency)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) faces pressure from the UN Security Council to complete its trials by 2008. In an effort to meet this deadline, the tribunal has begun transferring the defendants to other courts, which has backfired in some situations. For example, in August 2007, a French court released two suspects, and a Dutch court rejected the ICTR's request to try Michel Bagaragaza citing a "lack of internal legal grounds." If the ICTR receives similar responses from other countries, its only option would be to send the accused back to Rwanda where they might get away with mere extradition sentences. (Hirondelle News Agency)
Rwanda expresses shock over a French appeals court's decision to free two Rwandans previously indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for committing war crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The French court released Laurent Bucyibaruta and Roman Catholic priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, claiming that the ICTR's indictments "violated the presumption of innocence." In either case, this ruling might further damage the bilateral ties between Rwanda and France. (Reuters)
Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Adama Dieng advises African leaders that the international justice system has gained "unprecedented momentum" in the past decade. Although the UN initially set up international courts to seek an end to the culture of impunity, this does not imply that "international justice merely exists to punish and not to prevent." Chief Justice Georgina Wood asserts that African nations must realize that it is possible to achieve justice and peace simultaneously. (Public Agenda)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's five-year trial of Theoneste Bagosora ended on June 1, 2007. Bagosora, military retiree and cabinet member of the 1994 Rwandan defense ministry, is accused of masterminding the genocide in Rwanda. He allegedly planned the murder of former Tutsi Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and slaughter of over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Despite the obvious evidence against him, Bagosora boldly denies the accusations and believes he is "a victim of ignominious propaganda." The Tribunal is set to release a verdict later in 2007. (Guardian)
An individual absolved of genocide charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will receive financial compensation after the court initially failed to provide him with legal counsel, judges ruled. A legal analyst remarked that the decision indicates that "human rights violations will not be tolerated even if they are committed against an alleged perpetrator." While the case will likely have implications on how other international war crimes tribunals address claims for redress, it also raises questions about how the courts could fund a system for compensating acquitted defendants. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda plans to transfer some cases to Rwandan national courts if it has not completed all scheduled trials by its 2008 deadline. However, human rights groups, fearing that Rwanda lacks the resources and judicial capacity to carry out proper legal proceedings, advise the UN-backed court to look for other venues. Meanwhile, ICTR may seek to extend its mandate to pursue high-profile genocide suspects who remain at large. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The Rwandan government approved a law that – pending parliamentary ratification – will abolish capital punishment in the country. The landmark decision might encourage Western countries that oppose the death penalty to extradite genocide suspects caught within their jurisdictions for trial in Rwanda. Furthermore, the ruling suggests that Rwanda intends to play a bigger role in the justice process after the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda wraps up at the end of 2008. (Agence France Presse)
In November 2006, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French judge, called on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to prosecute Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, blaming him and his aides for causing the 1994 genocide. However, critics accuse the French government of targeting Kagame because he shunned Paris "as a source of cultural identity and protection," choosing instead to strengthen Kigali's ties with the UK. This Guardian article examines French "imperial ambitions" in Africa and warns that France may regret "resurrecting the past" with Rwanda.
Since 1997, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has cleared five individuals of any wrongdoing in the country's 1994 genocide. Yet the stigma of indictment remains with four of the acquitted as foreign governments, including ICTR's host-country Tanzania, refuse to let them resettle within their jurisdictions. Governments' reluctance to accept cleared defendants, together with a similar lack of enthusiasm for hosting high-profile trials, pose a significant challenge to the pursuit of international justice. (Reuters)
Tensions between Kigali and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) flared after the UN-backed court recently "secured the release" of a defense lawyer arrested for his alleged involvement in the 1994 genocide. The Rwandan government has threatened to stop cooperating with ICTR because of the "continued existence of genocide suspects" on the tribunal's payroll. Such a move could debilitate ICTR efforts to end all criminal proceedings by the 2008 deadline. (New Times)
Proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have "dragged on for too long," writes the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Some observers rebuke western governments for giving alleged perpetrators of the 1994 genocide a "safe haven" in their countries. An ICTR spokesman attributes the delay to limited resources as well as to the court's attempts to ensure proper procedure and fair trials.
Kigali has accused some employees of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of participating in the 1994 genocide. The suspects worked on the defense teams of other alleged genocide perpetrators. The charge not only raises concerns about the safety of witnesses but also threatens to jeopardize the UN-backed tribunal's investigations. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has legally recognized that genocide occurred in Rwanda in 1994, a long overdue ruling, according to the UN-backed tribunal's Acting Prosecutor, General Martin Ngoga. Ngoga says that having to prove in each case that genocide took place wasted time and resources. The Appeals Chamber's landmark decision will relieve the prosecution of this burden and hopefully speed up the pace of proceedings. (New Times)
The apparent sidelining of Rwandans from the workings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has led a government representative to question the UN-backed court's effectiveness. Kigali complains that unofficial changes to the court's mandate, for example the significant reduction of the number of genocide suspects, have actually undermined rather than developed Rwanda's legal system. In addition, officials criticize western countries harboring genocide fugitives for slowing down the process. (New Times)
The Rwandan government faces difficulty in meeting the compensation needs of genocide survivors. Many victims still await promised reparations to fund orphan school fees, medical assistance and accommodation. The UN Security Council will consider setting up a special compensation fund which the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) would co-ordinate. The ICTR has already launched a programme of assistance for witnesses in Rwanda. (Inter Press Service)
Some alleged participants in the Rwandan genocide are only now being accused and tried in traditional gacaca courts for their role in killings. Many of the accused have committed suicide following the re-surfacing of their suspected actions. While the suicides evoke little sympathy from some victims, other survivors experience more "complex emotions" having lived beside their former attackers for years amicably. (Washington Post)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) located in Tanzania has authorized Norway to try a suspect. This has sparked anger among Rwandan officials who have been requesting that cases be transferred to Rwanda given the ICTRs overload of cases and approaching deadline for disbandment. The UN Court justifies its choice of European courts due to their high standard of justice and Rwanda's refusal to repeal the death penalty. (BBC)
The Rwandan judicial system has sentenced many of those found guilty of genocide crimes to community service. Genocide survivors have criticized the punishment as "insignificant" to the violence the perpetrators inflicted, but some families of these so called "tigistes" describe the labor as slavery. The "tigistes" inmates work includes crushing rocks for road building, renovations and environmental work. (Mail & Guardian)
In an interview with Hirondelle News Agency, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) reports that he expects the ICTR to wrap up as scheduled in 2008. He also says that the work of the ICTR has exposed some policy gaps in international criminal law. For example, the Rwandan tribunal has highlighted the need to provide provisions for wrongly accused and unlawfully detained individuals.
With the Rwandan justice and prison systems overstretched, traditional gacaca courts are gaining prominence throughout the country. Unlike with the more selective Criminal Tribunal, entire communities must participate in the hearings, which, according to the Guardian, are unearthing skeletons in the current Rwandan government as witnesses name a number of political leaders as perpetrators in the genocide.
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting contends that the community-based Gacaca courts set up alongside the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda may lack effectiveness due to an atmosphere of general mistrust and limited independent scrutiny. Human rights groups worry that the courts breed false accusations and fail to encourage witnesses to come forward, Hutus fear that justice will be weighted in favor of the Tutsis, and the government accuses NGOs of fostering ethnic divisions.
A senior prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has praised Belgium's judiciary for using its universal jurisdiction laws to try Rwandan war crimes suspects. He urges other countries to follow suit as "genocide and war crimes can't go unpunished." (Hirondelle News Agency)
The Rwandan "gacaca" trials have begun in what the Guardian calls "a grand experiment in popular justice." The traditional, outdoor community courts can try suspects accused of murder or assault (but not rape), and may impose a life sentence in prison as maximum punishment. But human rights groups worry that the potential for false accusations, the unreliability of witness's memories and the lack of legal representation will lead to wrongful convictions.
In an effort to relieve the burden on the conventional court system, traditional Rwandan "gacaca" or "grass" courts will try suspects charged with participation in the 1994 genocide. These courts place emphasis on "confession and apology" to promote reconciliation. Although instigators of war crimes will continue to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, human rights organizations worry that the magnitude of the task facing the gacaca courts could lead to "arbitrary justice." (Reuters)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has not indicted any members of the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front, despite evidence of the organization's war crimes. The tribunal has instead chosen to prosecute only Hutu perpetrators, a move which the Guardian condemns as "victor's justice." The article implies the political nature of this oversight - the US and Britain are allies of the Tutsi government - but warns that the tribunal "risks being part of the problem rather than the solution" if Tutsi impunity continues.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda resumes its hearings after a three month hiatus. On trial are senior members of the Rwandan army for their alleged role in the 1994 genocide, as well as the fourth clergyman and first woman ever to be indicted for war crimes. (Agence France Presse)
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) called upon the international community to pressure uncooperative states, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo, into aiding in the capture of at-large accomplices of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The ICTR's complaints regarding cooperation, funding and the number of cases mirror concerns of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and raise doubts on the ability of such tribunals to administer justice. (Hirondelle News Agency)
Colonel Ephrem Setako has denied charges of genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The former Rwandan army officer, who allegedly distributed arms to groups that participated in the 1994 genocide, joins 25 others who are currently on trial at the ICTR. (Associated Press)
Rwandan Catholic priest Athanase Seromba faces trial for assisting in a Tutsi massacre from within his own congregation during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Though the investigations are supposed to finish by 2005, the pace slows down as Seromba and others have refused to appear at the UN war crimes tribunal. (BBC)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame says he would support a maximum penalty of life imprisonment versus the death penalty if genocide suspects in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are handed over to national courts. This announcement comes as the ICTR is under pressure to meet the UN Security Council's deadline of ending investigations in 2004 and completing all trials by 2008. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda handed a life sentence to former Rwandan finance minister, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, for leading a campaign of extermination against Tutsis in western Rwanda. The Tribunal also indicted key Rwandan genocide suspect, Gaspard Kanyarukiga, on charges including genocide, complicity in genocide, and conspiracy to commit genocide. (Reuters)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, a former mayor, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. According to the prosecution, Gacumbitsi participated in organizing and executing massacres in the province of Rusumo. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
Rwanda has voiced its concern over the high rate of resignations by top officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The country's representative to the ICTR suggests that ICTR officials are leaving because of "external pressures" exerted upon them by countries such as France. (Hirondelle News Agency)
In an effort to ease the work load of Rwandan prisons and courts, the government turned to the traditional "gacaca" hearings. Human Rights NGOs argue that the dangers of testifying inhibit large participation in these hearings. However, for many Rwandans gacacas give people a chance to talk about the genocide. (Inter Press Service)
The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the prosecutors of the war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda to complete their investigations by the end of 2004 and to conclude all of their work by 2010. (UN News Centre)
Italy becomes the fifth country to sign an agreement with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that enforces the sentences imposed by the tribunal. The tribunal sees the agreement as an important step in facilitating the "discharge and completion" of its mandate. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
In order to ease the workload of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and to decongest Rwandan prisons, the government introduced lenient sentencing for those who confess to their role in the 1994 genocide. However, observers say that prisoners were at times forced to confess. (allAfrica)
The acquittal of two former government officials on genocide charges by the UN International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has enraged the Rwandan government and genocide survivors. The decision adds to the discontent of many Rwandese with the tribunal, who expressed their anger chanting "anti-ICTR and anti-UN slogans." (allAfrica)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has convicted former Rwandan military commander Samuel Imanishimwe on six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, but acquitted two former government officials of charges related to genocide. The Rwandan government has strongly criticized the tribunal's controversial judgment. (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)
A prosecution witness's testimony in the indictment against former Rwandan army colonel Theoneste Bagosora at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda detailed an incident in which Belgian UNAMIR soldiers were massacred by the local militia. The killings prompted the Security Council to reduce the number of UNAMIR personnel in Rwanda. (Hirondelle News Agency)
The appointment of Hassan Jallow as new chief prosecutor and the posting of extra judges has speeded up proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. However, defense lawyers charge that the quicker pace restricts opportunities to investigate their cases adequately. (BBC)
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda handed down a double life sentence to former Minister for Culture and Higher Education, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, for crimes against humanity. It is the court's thirteenth conviction. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
Former Canadian general Romeo Dallaire testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda against former Rwandan army colonel Theoneste Bagosora and three other military commanders standing trial on crimes against humanity charges. Prosecutors hope Dallaire's testimony will provide more evidence that the killings were "officially sanctioned." (Reuters)