Rwanda


    Week in Review: Can we agree on History?
    16.01.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The way that history is written emerged as a focus of the transitional justice week, be it in Tunisia, Palestine, Israel or Rwanda. Transitional justice is not just about judicial mechanisms, trials and convictions. Reconciliation also requires acceptance of a common history of a divided past. Rwanda is perhaps the only country emerging from genocide where victims and killers have found themselves living together (again). Our Rwanda correspondent Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro reported from Gisenyi and the so-called “Red Commune”, which was the site of massacres in 1994. It was called red after...

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    Rwanda’s “Red Commune”, a killing field of the genocide
    12.01.17
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda

    At the time of the 1994 genocide, Gisenyi prefecture in northwest Rwanda was, like other prefectures, divided into communes. But the “Red Commune” does not appear on administrative maps of the time. It is not in fact an administrative entity but a cemetery where Tutsis were brought in 1994 to be killed and thrown into mass graves, or buried alive.  Seen from afar this place looks today like a big patch of waste ground. It covers some three hectares. Despite the overgrown grass, you can see as you approach the headstones that have been erected on some graves. According to the epitaphs, the...

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    Rwandan State takes charge of genocide memorials
    23.12.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, Kigali

    Maintaining and protecting sites where lie the victims is key to preserving the memory of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. Under a law passed in May this year, that responsibility falls to the Rwandan State, which has also asked UNESCO to register some sites as world cultural heritage.  With its flowering hedge, the genocide memorial cemetery in Nyamure looks more like a traditional Rwandan enclosure. From a distance, you would hardly think that in these 50 square metres scattered with flowers lie the remains of more than 20,000 Tutsis massacred on this hill near the border with...

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    Early release for two well-known Rwandan genocide convicts
    16.12.16
    JusticeInfo.Net

    Historian Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo, who are among the most well-known convicts of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), could not have asked for more. They will start 2017 as free men. In two separate decisions of December 5, published Wednesday on the website of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Judge Theodor Meron approved their request for early release.  Ferdinand Nahimana and Father Emmanuel Rukundo, who were sentenced to 30 and 23 years respectively, have been held in Koulikoro, Mali, under an agreement between the...

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    French Court Confirms Genocide Conviction of Former Rwandan Intelligence Chief
    06.12.16
    Human Rights Watch

    A French court on Saturday confirmed the 25-year prison sentence of Pascal Simbikangwa for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity. Simbikangwa was a former intelligence chief in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide, and was close to former president Juvénal Habyarimana. Human Rights Watch documented the genocide, including the involvement of Simbikangwa, in detail and has monitored trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda and abroad. Orchestrated by ethnic Hutu political and military extremists, the genocide in Rwanda claimed around 800.000 lives and was exceptional in...

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    French court confirms Rwandan’s 25-year sentence for genocide
    05.12.16
    Franck Petit, Bobigny, France (special envoy)

    A French court on Saturday confirmed a 25-year prison sentence on Pascal Simbikangwa, the first Rwandan to be tried for genocide in France. Simbikangwa, 57, has been detained in Fresnes, near Paris, since 2009. He was found guilty of participating in genocide and crimes against humanity in Kigali between April and July 1994. Simbikangwa, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in the 1980s, has always denied all the charges. After two trials and nearly three years, the appeals court in Bobigny (Paris area) reached the same conclusions as the lower court in Paris on former...

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    Kigali deems Catholic Church genocide apology “inadequate”
    30.11.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    In a pastoral letter read out on November 20 in most Rwandan churches, the bishops of nine dioceses in the country asked forgiveness for all “people of the Church and Christians” implicated in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The nine prelates nevertheless stress that the Church “did not send anyone” to commit genocide. The Rwandan government called the statement “profoundly inadequate”, and urged an apology from the Vatican.  “Given the scale of the crimes, there is ample justification for an apology from the Vatican,” says a Rwandan government statement. “As they apologise on behalf of a few...

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    Rwanda to probe French officials' genocide role
    30.11.16
    AFP

    Rwanda on Tuesday opened a formal probe into 20 French officials suspected of playing a role in the 1994 genocide, in a move likely to further sour diplomatic ties with France. Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations. "The inquiry, for now, is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the prosecution authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them," said prosecutor general Richard Muhumuza...

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    The arrest of Enoch Ruhigira, President Juvenal Habyarimana’s former Chief of Staff

    JusticeInfo here publishes comments of Paris professor André Guichaoua on the July 20, 2016 arrest in Frankfurt, Germany, of Enoch Ruhigira, last head of presidential staff under Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.  Professor Guichaoua is a specialist on the Great Lakes region of Africa and testified several times as an expert witness for the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which closed at the end of 2015.   This paper presents a brief factual summary of the efforts of the Prosecutor General of Rwanda to obtain during the last fifteen years the extradition of M. Enoch Ruhigira, became a New Zealand’s citizen. From New Zealand to Germany, it...

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    European Parliament condemns human rights abuses in Rwanda
    07.10.16
    JusticeInfo.Net

    In a resolution adopted in a single reading on October 6, the European Parliament condemns politically motivated trials and attacks on freedom of expression in Rwanda. The Euro MPS called for a revision of the trial of leading opponent Victoire Ingabire, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail. They also urged the Rwandan authorities to ensure peaceful, credible and transparent elections in 2017 and to engage with the opposition in the run-up to these elections. Before condemning, appealing and raising the alarm, the European Parliament first noted significant socio-economic progress in...

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    Rwandans feel the pinch as Burundi fallout hits home

    Walking through Kimironko market in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, you wouldn’t necessarily realise its traders were struggling. Business seems brisk and stalls are overflowing with fruit, vegetables, and huge mounds of dried fish in baskets. But life for some of Kimironko’s traders hasn’t been easy over the past two months. In late July, neighbouring Burundi banned food exports to Rwanda and restricted movement at border crossings. The step – the latest salvo in a diplomatic spat that began last year when political unrest erupted in Burundi – has left traders like 39-year-old Sabita...

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    Extradited genocide suspects say Rwanda undermining their defence
    21.09.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, correspondent in Kigali

    Several genocide suspects have been extradited to Rwanda by third countries or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which closed its doors at the end of 2015. Most of them accuse the Rwandan government of denying them adequate means for their defence. The Justice Ministry, which oversees legal aid, denies the accusation. The first accused person to be sent to Rwanda by the ICTR was Pentecostal pastor Jean Uwinkindi, who was transferred in April 2012. The ICTR judges approved his transfer after receiving assurances from Rwanda that the accused would get a fair trial there....

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    The UN’s Rwanda Tribunal and how it failed a Rwandan victim
    15.09.16
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    It was the longest, most expensive and possibly most failed trial in international justice. The so-called “Butare trial” that ended less than a year ago was full of mistakes, dysfunctions and inadequate behaviour at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), to the detriment of the victims. Here is the autopsy of a resounding failure, at the end of which the Appeals Chamber recognized there had been prejudice… to the genocide perpetrators¨! This article is co-published by Le Monde.fr and JusticeInfo.net   Justice! At last, after so much killing and so much suffering. At least...

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    German Arrest of Top Aide to Rwandan Ex-President Raises Questions
    19.08.16
    JusticeInfo correspondents in Frankfurt, Brussels and Wellington

    The news didn’t make a big splash in the international media, despite the person’s stature.  Enoch Ruhigira, who was the last head of presidential staff under Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, was arrested in July in Germany on the basis of a Rwandan arrest warrant accusing him of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed between 1990 and 1994.  The Hutu former dignitary is being detained on the basis of accusations which were found to be baseless in New Zealand, the country where he had citizenship, and Belgium, where he had also spent some time. It was mostly the...

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    “Access and Security” for Tribunal Archives on Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia
    18.08.16
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    The  UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has just published its access policy for the records it holds, some of which are classified. These records include all the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which closed at the end of 2015,  and many of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is due to close at the end of 2017. This Access Policy “constitutes the foundation of the organization’s information security and access regime,” the MICT says in a news release on its website. Records...

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    Rwanda: Locking Up the Poor

    (Nairobi, July 21, 2016) – Rwandan authorities are rounding up poor people and arbitrarily detaining them in “transit centers” across the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The conditions in these centers are harsh and inhuman, and beatings are commonplace. New research indicates that the authorities have made few changes in a center in Gikondo, in the capital, Kigali, despite an earlier Human Rights Watch report on abuses there, and that similar degrading treatment prevails in other transit centers. New Human Rights Watch research in 2016 has found that scores of people, including homeless people, street vendors, street children, and other poor people, are being rounded up off the...

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    Rwandan Killers and Survivors Talk About Paris Genocide Trial
    07.06.16
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro, Kabarondo (special envoy)

    Kabarondo, a small town in eastern Rwanda, is located 83 km from Kigali, along a paved road linking this small country to neighbouring Tanzania. On the left of the entrance to the shopping centre, below the road, is the local church, an unspectacular building with red walls and roof. Red like “the blood of our loved ones shed by mayors Tito Barahira, Octavien Ngenzi and their men,” says Jean-Damascène Rutagungira (known as “Burayi”), one of the rare survivors of April 13, 1994, the date of the worst massacre in Kabarondo. In this rural commune in eastern Rwanda, administered in turn by Tito...

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    Women Drove Transitional Justice In Rwanda, Says Expert
    27.05.16
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    Women were among the main victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They saw husbands and family killed. Tutsi women were raped, often infected with HIV and some had to bear the unwanted children of their rapists. Hutu women became refugees and saw surviving husbands jailed. Justine Mbabazi is a Rwandan gender expert, who lost her own husband and parents in the genocide. She was active in discussion forums on constitutional reforms in Rwanda, the review of the Family and Inheritance Law, Children’s Rights Law and in drafting the Gender Based Violence Law. Mbabazi is currently working on an...

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    French Trial Hears About Investigating Genocide in Rwanda
    21.05.16
    Franck Petit, JusticeInfo

    “In the four years I have been investigating, there have been seven or eight crises [with Rwanda]. We thought our investigation there was over, but it’s still ongoing.” These were the words of a French gendarme, neat in his uniform with cap placed beside him on a chair, as he testified in the Paris trial of two former Rwandan mayors charged with genocide. Under lengthy questioning on Thursday May 19, he openly gave many details about the investigation that led to this trial of Tito Barahira and Octavien Ngenzi. Lieutenant Olivier Griffoul was one of the first investigators in the...

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    Portraits of Two Rwandan Mayors Unfold in Paris Genocide Trial
    13.05.16
    Franck Petit, JusticeInfo.net

    Since the genocide trial of two Rwandan mayors started at a Paris court on Tuesday, their personalities have become clearer. Tito Barahira, the first to be questioned on his character, spoke quietly and reluctantly in Kinyarwanda. The younger man, Octavien Ngenzi, seemed in more of a hurry. At the start of the trial, Ngenzi’s lawyer denounced the lack of means afforded to the defence, saying this was like “a battle between a tiger and a chained donkey”. But it wass not only the prosecution on the attack. Françoise Mathé, who has been defending Ngenzi since his arrest in Mayotte six years...

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