International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Rwanda Genocide Tribunal Holds Final Hearings

In 1994 the Rwandan genocide took place, in which 800,000 people died. The killings took place in Rwanda’s southern region over about 100 days. After more than 20 years of operation, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has held its final hearings into the crimes that took place during the genocide. Approximately two-thirds of those indicted over the Rwandan genocide were convicted.

The court is backed by the UN and has indicted 93 people for their crimes of violence. Out of the defendants, 61 were convicted and 14 acquitted. Other defendants were referred for trail elsewhere, died, are fugitives, or had their indictments withdrawn. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was “the first international tribunal to deliver verdicts in relation to genocide and recognize rape as a means of carrying out genocide.”

It is shocking to me that the Rwandan tribunal is the first to recognize rape as a means of genocide. Rape is a method of repression, violence, and dominance. Rape, and other forms of sexual violence, are widely associated with international crimes. Rape as a weapon is not a new form of violence and/or aggression. The tribunal’s recognition of rape as a means of carrying out genocide is a good step in the right direction towards justice for victims of sexual abuse.

The tribunal has six appeals. The last defendant to appear before the court was former Rwandan minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. She is appealing against her conviction for genocide and incitement to rape. “In 2011 she became the first woman to be found guilty of such crimes by an international tribunal.” She begged the appeal judges to acquit her. She claimed that she was not the “type to commit these heinous crimes.”

The court had 5 other appeals, one being Ms. Nyiramasuhuko’s son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali. Ntahobali was a militia leader during the genocide and was sentenced to life in prison for “genocide, extermination and rape as a crime against humanity.”

The other accused persons are serving long jail terms. They were senior officials that massacred members of the minority Tutsi community. Tutsi were widely murdered by ethnic Hutus. The verdicts for these appeals are expected later this year.


One response to “Rwanda Genocide Tribunal Holds Final Hearings

  1. mcurle15 April 25, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I agree that it is shocking that the ICTR was the first tribunal to recognize rape as an act of genocide. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are often thought of in gendered terms. Rape is most commonly associated with women being the victim and men being the perpetrator. That is why I find it very interesting that the former Rwandan minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, was indicted for genocide and for the provoking of rape. Pauline was the first woman to be found guilty of these crimes, which I believe is a step in the right direction in preventing crimes of sexual violence. I think it is a good thing that all actors involved in rape or other forms of sexual violence should be investigated regardless of gender because rape is such a heinous crime that leaves victim’s demoralized.

    While rape is a heinous and vicious act against humanity, it can also be used as a way of ethnic cleansing to promote one certain ethnicity over another. That is another reason why it is so important to include rape in the realm of genocide when prosecuting perpetrators on the international stage. Having the ICTR recognize rape as an international crime of genocide hopefully means that future acts of rape during war times will be deterred.

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