International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

What is the significance of the Akayesu case?

AKAYESU TRIALThe Akayesu case was one of the ICTR’s first significant trials and convictions.

Drawing on the Cruvellier chapters and whatever else you can dig up, what is the significance of this case for the tribunal, transitional justice for Rwanda, and international justice more generally?


3 responses to “What is the significance of the Akayesu case?

  1. krissylik February 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

    The Akayesu case brought sexual violence to an international stage when Akaseyu was convicted of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, as well as rape. The judgement effectively defined “rape” in international law and also acknowledged it as an instrument of genocide and a crime against humanity. The definition of rape focuses on the “concept of rape” rather than a set of specific criteria, allowing for a broader protection of victims. This created a precedent for the prosecution of gender based crimes and also expanded the 1948 Genocide Convention’s definition of what constitutes a targeted group. Since the case, however, there have been very few gender crime prosecutions made by the ICTR despite overwhelming evidence.

    This case was also the first trial where the definition put forth by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was put into practice. Akaseyu was convicted of committing acts of genocide but not convicted of breaches of the Geneva Convention. This shows that acts of genocide are outside the realm of armed conflict and thus punished separately.

  2. jsqim February 12, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    The Akayesu case, and more broadly, the ICTR, was the first time an international tribunal was called to interpret the definition of genocide since the Genocide Convention in 1948. Furthermore, the case also defined “rape” and “sexual violence” as parts of genocide. The chamber claimed that rape and sexual violence can constitute genocide just as much as murders and other bodily harm do, if such rape and sexual violence were committed with the destruction of a particular group in sight. The case was also significant because while Akayesu as a mayor of Taba, did not carry out rape or sexual violence himself, he ordered many Hutu underneath him to kill the Tutsi member of the community. In addition, Akayesu also ordered the rape and and murder of Tutsi women in the city. Despite having “no blood on his hands,” Akayesu was still convicted with charges of genocide.

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