News / Africa

Rwanda Criminal Tribunal Pleased With Progress

Yves Kamuromsi - only 13 when the Rwandan genocide occurred - now heads the documentation center at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda, and said sharing the experience with other survivors helps everyone, November 2011.
Yves Kamuromsi - only 13 when the Rwandan genocide occurred - now heads the documentation center at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda, and said sharing the experience with other survivors helps everyone, November 2011.

With the sentencing this week of two former Rwandan politicians for their role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal continues its work of trying the masterminds of the violence.  In its 17-year history, the tribunal has achieved a number of firsts.  

Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Edouard Karemera, president and vice-president of Rwanda’s then-ruling party, will be spending the rest of their lives behind bars for turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by their party’s youth wing, the Interahamwe.

They join some 21 others currently serving sentences following trials in which they were found guilty of such charges as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Seventeen years ago, the United Nations set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to catch the so-called “big fish,” or high-level organizers, of a methodical, systematic campaign aimed at wiping out the Tutsi ethnic group.  An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during several months in 1994.

Since its beginning, the tribunal has indicted 92 suspects and has passed down judgments against 72 people.  These include former government ministers, army commanders, diplomats, journalists, and other Rwandan elite.

Tribunal spokesman, Roland Amoussouga, says the capture and trials of the genocide’s architects have brought about what he calls a “credible and on-going process of national reconciliation and healing” in Rwanda.

“If they were not arrested, God forbid, nobody knows what could have happened to the peace and stability in Rwanda.  At the beginning, when they were not all arrested, there was trouble in most parts of Rwanda,” he said.

Amoussouga says the tribunal’s efforts have complemented Rwanda’s justice system.

In Rwanda, one of the most prominent justice activities has been the setting up of traditional `gacaca’ courts to conduct trials of people accused of committing murder, rape, looting, and other crimes during the genocide.  An estimated 1.5 million cases have been heard since 2001, mostly at the village level.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has achieved a number of firsts.  It was the first international court to convict someone of genocide.

On June 24 of this year, the former Minister of Family and Women’s Development, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, was sentenced to life in prison.  Amoussouga says her conviction sets her apart.

“She was indicted for rape as (a) crime of genocide and she was the first woman to be arrested for genocide, for crimes against humanity.  All these made her unique,” Amoussouga said.

She was tried alongside her son, who is also now behind bars for life.

Amoussouga says the tribunal has built up, in his words, a “substantial body of jurisprudence” on such concepts as “genocide,” “crimes against humanity,” and “war crimes” that can be used in courtrooms in other jurisdictions.  He says the tribunal has also built up an extensive databank of historical evidence of the Rwandan genocide.

But the tribunal has had its share of challenges and criticisms.

Carina Tertsakian is senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in London.  She says that the process has been, in her words, “slow and cumbersome,” too bureaucratic, and punctured with many delays.

But, says Tertsakian, the most serious shortcoming is an omission to confront atrocities committed by a rebel group at the time that forms Rwanda’s current government.

“One aspect in which it (the tribunal) has failed is to prosecute cases of crimes committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Front, the ruling power currently in power in Rwanda.  The Rwandan government has put very, very heavy pressure on the various ICTR prosecutors over the years to drop investigations into RPF crimes, and one by one, sadly, they have succumbed to that,” Tertsakian said.

At the end of 2008, Human Rights Watch sent the tribunal’s prosecutor, Justice Hassan B. Jallow, a letter urging the court to investigate reports of revenge killings of thousands of civilians by the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

The tribunal is set to wind up its work in 2014.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid