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)