Rwanda genocide tribunal formally closes

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) formally closed Dec. 31 after issuing 45 judgments. The ICTR, established in 1994, was the first international tribunal to deliver verdicts against those guilty of committing genocide. Within its 21 years, the ICTR sentenced 61 to terms of up to life imprisonment for their roles in the Rwanda massacres. There were 14 acquittals, and 10 accused were transferred to national courts. An International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals has been established and eight fugitives remain at large.

In September a court in Toulouse, France, refused extradition requests for Joseph Habyarimana, a Rwandan man, facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Last January two Rwandan police officers were sentenced to 20 years in jail for the murder of a Transparency International anti-corruption activist. In July 2014 the ICTR unanimously affirmed a 30-year prison sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for the role he played in the genocide. In December 2012 the ICTR convicted former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.

From Jurist, Jan. 3. Used with permission.

Note: In addition to the ICTR, the Rwandan government also organized the village-based Gacaca courts. Some 12,000 of these courts heard over 1.9 million cases before they were closed in 2012. In 30% of those cases, the defendants were acquitted; one in 10 defendants was sentenced to life imprisonment. In the remaining cases, sentences of between five and 25 years were handed down to those found guilty. (DW, June 19, 2012)

  1. Rwandan genocide suspect arrested in Paris

    French authorities on May 16¬†arrested¬†F√©licien Kabuga, a long-fugitive Rwandan businessman accused of being a mastermind of¬†the 1994 genocide. He was detained at a home outside¬†Paris, where he had apparently been living for years under a false identity.¬†Kabuga, one of Rwanda’s richest men before the genocide, was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997, named as the main financier and logistical backer of the political and militia groups that committed the genocide. Kabuga is to be transfered¬†to the UN‚Äôs International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) in Tanzania, which handles cases left outstanding after the closure of the International Criminal Tribunal. (Jurist,¬†NYT,¬†HRW)

  2. Rwanda arrests Paul Rusesabagina of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ fame¬†

    The Rwanda Investigation Bureau has arrested Paul Rusesabagina, whose actions inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, on offenses related to terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder. The crimes were allegedly perpetrated against unarmed Rwandans in Nyabimata, Nyaruguru district, in June 2018, and in Nyungwe, Nyamagabe district, in December 2018.

    The Rwanda Investigation Bureau made¬†statements¬†on Twitter that Rusesabagina was in custody after being arrested through international cooperation and is currently in police custody in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The Bureau also¬†said, “Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including MRCD and PDR-Ihumure, operating out of various places in the region and abroad.”

    Rusesabagina and his supporters have¬†claimed¬†to be targets of Paul Kagame’s government for protesting¬†the¬†suppression of¬†dissent.¬†

    Tr√©sor Rusesabagina, Paul Rusesabagina’s son,¬†said, “Having a thought is a crime in some places, being your own man is a crime in some places, my father is guilty of having the guts to speak up. This is political, of course it is. These are the games they play,”

    Rusesabagina saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He provided shelter to people in the Milles Collines hotel in Kigali where he worked as a manager. The 2004 Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was inspired by this episode. He is the recipient of several human rights awards for his efforts during the genocide, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. (Jurist)

  3. France ‘responsible’ but not ‘complicit’ in Rwanda genocide

    The Research Commission on the French Archives relating to Rwanda and the Tutsi Genocide (Duclert Commission) on March 26 submitted its report to French President Emmanuel Macron finding that the country bears responsibility due to its inaction, but was not complicit with the regime that perpetrated the genocide. (Jurist)

  4. Rwanda government report: France enabled genocide

    France played a ‚Äúsignificant‚ÄĚ role in ‚Äúenabling a foreseeable genocide‚ÄĚ in Rwanda, according to a report commissioned by the Rwandan government that was released April 19. The report,¬†commissioned¬†by the Rwandan government in 2017 and¬†prepared¬†by Robert Muse of the Washington DC law firm¬†Levy Firestone Muse, acknowledges French humanitarian intervention after the genocide began, but argues that the French government for years “helped build and fortify” Rwandan institutions that later became instruments of the genocide. After this “unwavering support” for the Rwandan government in a bid for regional influence, France “did nothing to stop” the slaughter of ethnic Tutsi by that government, which dominated by members of the Hutu ethnic group. (Jurist,¬†NYT)

  5. France offers semi-apology for Rwanda genocide

    French President Emmanuel Macron asked Rwandans to forgive France for its role in the 1994 genocide.¬†Speaking at the genocide memorial in Kigali, he said France had not heeded warnings of impending carnage and had for too long “valued silence over examination of the truth.”¬†However, he added that¬†France had not been an accomplice in the killings.

    Rwanda’s leader praised his speech.¬†President Paul Kagame said, “His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth.”¬†He called it “an act of tremendous courage.”¬†(BBC News)

  6. Paul Rusesabagina convicted in Rwanda

    Paul Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, has been convicted of terror charges by a court in the Central African country. An outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame, Rusesabagina was found guilty of forming and financing an armed group which carried out attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. Rights groups said the trial was “flawed”¬†and have criticised the way in which Rusesabagina was arrested. (TNH)

  7. Rwanda genocide ‘kingpin’ dies in Mali prison

    Late last month, Malian officials announced that a former Rwandan army colonel convicted of masterminding the slaughter of at least half a million people during the 1994 genocide had died. Théoneste Bagosora, who was 80, was serving a 35-year sentence after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the then International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

    His death on Sept.¬†25 follows news of the arrest in France of F√©licien Kabuga, one of the Rwandan genocide‚Äôs alleged masterminds, in 2020 and the announcement that the remains of another‚ÄďAugustin Bizimana, the minister of defense at the time of the killings‚Äďhad been found in a grave in Republic of Congo. (HRW)

  8. Accused funder of Rwandan genocide to stand trial

    The UN’s Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (RMICT) on June 13¬†ruled that Felicien Kabuga is fit to stand trial. Kabuga is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide for his role in the Rwandan genocide. Kabuga allegedly funded the Akazu, the ruling group responsible for planning and carrying out violence against the Tutsi ethnic group. (Jurist)

  9. Trial of Rwanda genocide financier begins

    The trial of Félicien Kabuga, an accused financier and mastermind of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, began at The Hague Sept. 28. Kabuga faces charges of genocide, direct public incitement to commit genocide and murder as crimes against humanity. (Jurist)

  10. Rwanda frees Paul Rusesabagina

    Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed as a hero in the film Hotel Rwanda about the 1994 genocide, has arrived in Qatar after being released from prison in Rwanda Rusesabagina, a permanent resident of the United States, was sentenced in September 2021 to 25 years on terrorism charges. Many at the time said the trial was a farce. He was released on Friday after his sentence was commuted following months of negotiations between Washington and Kigali. (PRI, Al Jazeera)

  11. UN tribunal arrests man wanted for Rwanda genocide

    A special tribunal established by the UN, known as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), announced May 25 that fugitive Fulgence Kayishema has been arrested in South Africa after 22 years on the run. Kayishema, a police officer accused of orchestrating the killing of more than 2,000 Tutsi refugees at Nyange Catholic Church in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, was the country’s most wanted fugitive. (Jurist)

  12. Rwanda genocide suspect unfit to stand trial

    The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) declared June 7 that Félicien Kabuga, one of the last fugitives of the 1994 Rwandan genocide until his arrest in 2020, is unfit to stand trial due to dementia. (Jurist)


  13. UN special adviser welcomes France verdict on Rwanda genocide

    UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Nderitu welcomed¬†July 3 the life imprisonment sentence that the Paris Assize Court issued Philippe Hategekimana on June 28. Hategekimana was sentenced for crimes committed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The trial of Hategekimana was France’s fifth trial of alleged perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. (Jurist)