Category Archives: ICTR

Rwandan Genocide Suspect Félicien Kabuga Arrested, Leaving Six Fugitives

Félicien Kabuga arrested in Paris by French authorities
Credit: IRMCT Video via UN News Photo

French authorities have arrested Félicien Kabuga, long wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. [Guardian] Using his fortune and his radio station, Kabuga is accused of funding, logistically supporting, and inciting anti-Tutsi violence. [OHCHR Press Release; ACHPR Press Release] He was indicted by the ICTR in 1997 on genocide charges. [ACHPR Press Release] A French court will decide on May 27, 2020 whether his trial will be handled by the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) – which is concluding the remaining work of the ICTR and its counterpart, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – or in France, where Kabuga is arguing he will receive a fair trial. [IJRC; NYTimes: Trial] The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has called for the case to be transferred to Rwandan courts for trial, noting a “preference for national level prosecution” that meets the “needs of the affected people to participate in and witness the process.” [ACHPR Press Release] Kabuga’s arrest on May 16, 2020 is considered a highly significant development in international justice. [OHCHR Press Release; Just Security; NYTimes: Arrest] With his apprehension and the recently-confirmed death of Augustin Bizmana, just six fugitives indicted by the ICTR or IRMCT remain at large. See IJRC, ICTR.

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ICTR Reduces Butare Defendants’ Sentences in Last Judgment before Closing

The UN Secretary General visits the ICTR in 1998. Credit: UN

The UN Secretary General visits the ICTR in 1998.
Credit: UN

After more than 20 years of prosecuting those most responsible for the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has issued its final judgment and closed its doors. [The Citizen] In its forty-fifth and final judgment, delivered on December 14, 2015, the Appeals Chamber decided appeals from six defendants previously convicted by the Trial Chamber. [BBC] While it confirmed the guilty verdicts in the “Butare Six” case, the Appeals Chamber found the sentences imposed to be excessive; it ordered the release Sylvain Nsabimana and Joseph Kanyabashi, and granted sentence reductions to the remaining four appellants, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, Alphonse Nteziryayo, and Élie Ndayambaje. See ICTR, Prosecutor v. Nyiramasuhuko et al. (Butare), Case ICTR-98-42, Appeals Chamber Judgment, 14 December 2015. With this case finalized, the ICTR formally closed at the end of 2015. Since it began operating in 1995, the ICTR has indicted a total of 93 people – and convicted 61 – on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. See ICTR, The ICTR in Brief. While sometimes criticized for doing too little, too slowly, the ICTR has contributed to justice and accountability for Rwandans and to the development of international criminal law. Read more

New Database Increases Access to Rwandan Genocide Tribunal’s Records

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.57.55 AMA new database aims to increase access to the proceedings, evidence, decisions, and orders of the international tribunal created to prosecute those most responsible for the commission of international crimes during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. On December 3, 2015, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) launched the Judicial Records and Archives Database (JRAD) to facilitate public access to the vast collection of records pertaining to cases under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the MICT, which is the body overseeing enforcement of sentences and other aspects of the tribunal’s work. The JRAD includes visual and audio records of the tribunal’s proceedings, exhibits and filings, and transcripts. [MICT Press Release] Read more

ECCC Sentences Former Khmer Rouge Leaders to Life Imprisonment for Crimes Against Humanity, Marking the Latest Convictions of High-Level Officials by an Internationalized Criminal Tribunal


Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013 Credit: ECCC

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013
Credit: ECCC

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) last week issued its first convictions against former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, finding Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge’s rule in the 1970s. [ECCC Press Release] The convictions, part of only the second set of charges to be resolved by the ECCC, come after nearly four years of litigation before the United Nations-assisted hybrid tribunal. In recent years, the court has been plagued by controversy and delays that at times seemed likely to outlast the few, elderly defendants brought before it. [IJRC] Read more

African Union Approves Immunity for Government Officials in Amendment to African Court of Justice and Human Rights’ Statute

23rd African Union SummitCredit: AU

23rd African Union Summit
Credit: AU

In a controversial decision, the African Union has decided to specifically exempt senior government officials from prosecution by a proposed regional human rights court, which will otherwise be authorized to try individuals accused of crimes against humanity and other serious international crimes. At its 23rd Ordinary Session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea last week, the Assembly of the African Union (AU) adopted an amendment to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to immunize African leaders accused of committing serious human rights violations from criminal prosecution before the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights. [African Union] While it is hoped that the amendment will foster greater cooperation and compliance with the future Court, the limitation on its mandate has been the subject of intense criticism by civil society groups. Read more

News Clips – October 25, 2010

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights begins holding hearings today in its 140th Period of Sessions.  Issues to be discussed today include the Situation of Environmentalists in Mesoamerica, and Discrimination against the Transsexual, Transgender, and Transvestite Population in Brazil.  See the week’s schedule of hearings here.  Webcast of some hearings is available here.
  • The IACHR has called on the United States to suspend the execution of Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan, following its grant of precautionary measures in Landrigan’s favor last week.  The Commission subsequently held that the U.S. violated the rights of Landrigan, who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, when he was sentenced to death by a trial judge rather than a jury using a procedure later found to be unconstitutional, but was never granted a new sentencing hearing.  The Commission requested the immediate suspension of his execution. [IACHR] Amnesty International USA questioned Landrigan’s defense counsel’s failure to present mitigating evidence of his neuropsychological health and raised concerns that the state of Arizona may have obtained the drug used for lethal injections, sodium thiopental, from a non-FDA-approved source. [AI USA]  Landrigan’s application for stay of execution and habeas petition  – on the grounds of possible actual innocence – are pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read more