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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More