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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid