International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

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International Criminal Tribunal
for Rwanda (ICTR)
Established 8 November 1994
Country Rwanda
Location Arusha, Tanzania
Authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 955
Number of positions 16 permanent
9 ad litem
Currently Vagn Joensen (Denmark)

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda[1] (ICTR) is an international court established in November 1994 by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 955 in order to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994.[2]

In 1995, it became located in Arusha, Tanzania, under Resolution 977.[3] (From 2006, Arusha also became the location of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights). In 1998 the operation of the tribunal was expanded in Resolution 1165.[4] Through several resolutions, the Security Council called on the tribunal to complete its investigations by end of 2004, complete all trial activities by end of 2008, and complete all work in 2012.[5]

The tribunal has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, which are defined as violations of Common Article Three and Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions (which deals with internal conflicts).

As of 2009, the tribunal had finished 50 trials and convicted 29 accused persons, and another 11 trials were in progress and 14 individuals were awaiting trial in detention; but the prosecutor intends to transfer 5 to national jurisdiction for trial. 13 others are still at large, some suspected to be dead.[6] The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, began in 1997. Jean Kambanda, interim Prime Minister, pleaded guilty. According to the ICTR's Completion Strategy, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1503, all first-instance cases were to have completed trial by the end of 2008 (this date was later extended to the end of 2009[7]) and all work is to be completed by 2010. It has recently been discussed that these goals may not be realistic and are likely to change. The United Nations Security Council called upon the tribunal to finish its work by 31 December 2014 to prepare for its closure and transfer of its responsibilities to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals which will begin functioning for the ICTR branch on 1 July 2012. As of spring 2015, the Residual Mechanism had taken over much of the operations of the tribunal, and the tribunal announced on February 2, 2015 that it was significantly reducing staff with the goal of wrapping up operations and closing the tribunal by the end of 2015.[8]

In March 2010, the ICTR announced plans to digitize all video recordings of the trials, both audio and video, in all three languages (English, French, Kinyarwanda). This is part of a larger project that included digitizing audio recordings.[9][10]

The Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of between 500,000 and 900,000 ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu by government-directed gangs of Hutu extremist soldiers and police in Rwanda in 1994. This huge killing was started in April 1994 after peace agreement was signed that created democratic institutions in Rwanda. Before that, Hutus-the majority ethnic group-had been under Belgian rule while Tutsi had historically enjoyed power. Due to the historical resent between two ethnics, the peace agreement that formed a coalition government finally caused Tutsi rebel group to fight the Hutu government. From April 1994, the genocide continued for about one hundred days until the defeat of Hutu rebel in mid-July. Due to this, at least 500,000 Tutsis were killed, and approximately 2 million refugees (mostly Hutus) left for refugee camps of neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire according to World Without Genocide.[11]

Establishment of the ICTR

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda is regarded as a major failure.[12] The international response to the Rwandan Genocide was poor. For weeks, the major power nations denied that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda. Even, the United States refused to call the incident "genocide," because using the term would make an obligation for the United States to send troops. Finally in July 1994, long after the genocide was over, the UN Security Council called for an investigation of the events, and acted to establish an international criminal tribunal to prosecute those individuals most responsible for the genocide. Adopting Resolution 955, the Security Council created the ICTR on November 8, 1994 and the ICTR would also deal with other crimes against international humanitarian law committed on the territory of Rwanda and neighboring states between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.[13]

ICTR Structure

File:ICTR in Kigali.jpg
An ICTR building in Kigali, Rwanda.

The tribunal consists of 16 judges in four "chambers" - three to hear trials, and one to hear appeals. In addition, there are 9 ad litem judges, making 25 in all. At present, all 9 ad litem judges are assigned to Chambers II and III. There is an additional pool of 9 further ad litem judges who may be called on in the case of a judge being absent.

The column denoted by # indicates the order of precedence.

Trial Chamber I

# Judge Nationality Status
19. Mparany Rajohnson Madagascar Malagasy Member (Ad litem judge)

Trial Chamber II

# Judge Nationality Status
4. William Sekule Tanzania Tanzanian Presiding Judge
14. Solomy Balungi Bossa Uganda Ugandan Member (Ad litem judge)
15. Lee Gacugia Muthoga Kenya Kenyan Member (Ad litem judge)
16. Seon Ki Park South Korea South Korean Member (Ad litem judge)

Trial Chamber III

# Judge Nationality Status
1. Vagn Joensen Denmark Danish President ICTR, Presiding Judge
2. Florence Rita Arrey Cameroon Cameroonian Vice-President ICTR, Member
17. Gberdao Gustave Kam Burkina Faso Burkinabé Member (Ad litem judge)
13. Bakhtiyar R.Tuzmukhamedov Russia Russian Member
18. Robert Fremr Czech Republic Czech Member

Appeals Chamber

# Judge Nationality Status
3. Theodor Meron United States American Presiding Judge
5. Patrick Robinson Jamaica Jamaican Member
7. Fausto Pocar Italy Italian Member
8. Liu Daqun China Chinese Member
6. Mehmet Güney Turkey Turkish Member
11. Carmel Agius Malta Maltese Member
9. Arlette Ramaroson Madagascar Malagasy Member
10. Andrésia Vaz Senegal Senegalese Member
12. Khalida Rashid Khan Pakistan Pakistani Member

Office of the Prosecutor

File:Ictr office 3.jpg
Offices of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, 2003.

The Office of the Prosecutor is divided into two Sections:

  • The Investigation Section is responsible for collecting evidence implicating individuals in crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994.
  • The Prosecution Section is responsible for prosecuting all cases before the Tribunal.

Hassan Bubacar Jallow of the Gambia is the current prosecutor. He has previously served as the Gambian Attorney-General and Minister of Justice from 1984 to 1994, and subsequently as a Judge of Supreme Court of the Gambia from 1998 to 2002. He was appointed by the Security Council on September 15, 2003 to replace Carla Del Ponte.

The Registry

The Registry is responsible for the overall administration and management of the ICTR. It also performs other legal functions assigned to it by the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and is the Tribunal’s channel of communication.

The Registry is headed by the Registrar, who is the Representative of the UN Secretary-General. Adama Dieng of Senegal is the present Registrar. He took office in March 2001.

The Case of Jean-Paul Akayesu

After an intense and precisely targeted campaign of a number of international non-governmental organizations, which aimed at raising awareness of gendered violence at the ICTR,[14] the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu established the legal precedent that genocidal rape falls within the act of genocide. "...the [Trial] Chamber finds that in most cases, the rapes of Tutsi women in Taba, were accompanied with the intent to kill those women. ... In this respect, it appears clearly to the chamber that the acts of rape and sexual violence, as other acts of serious bodily and mental harm committed against the Tutsi, reflected the determination to make Tutsi women suffer and to mutilate them even before killing them, the intent being to destroy the Tutsi group while inflicting acute suffering on its members in the process."[15] Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay said in a statement after the verdict: "From time immemorial, rape has been regarded as spoils of war. Now it will be considered a war crime. We want to send out a strong message that rape is no longer a trophy of war."[16]

The Case of Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza

The trial against "hate media" began on 23 October 2000. It is charged with the prosecution of the media which encouraged the genocide of 1994.

On 19 August 2003, at the tribunal in Arusha, life sentences were requested for Ferdinand Nahimana, and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, persons in charge for the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, as well as Hassan Ngeze, director and editor of the Kangura newspaper. They were charged with genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity, before and during the period of the genocides of 1994. On 3 December 2003, the court found all three defendants guilty and sentenced Nahimana and Ngeze to life imprisonment and Barayagwiza to imprisonment for 35 years. On 28 November 2007, the Appeals Chamber partially allowed appeals against conviction from all three men, reducing their sentences to 30 years' imprisonment for Nahimana, 32 years' imprisonment for Barayagwiza and 35 years' imprisonment for Ngeze.[17]

No prosecutions have been brought against the founders, sponsors or anyone related to Radio Muhabura, a media whose pro-RPF messages were broadcast throughout the country during the 1990-1994 war.[citation needed]

Related legal activities

French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière is also pursuing a case against the current President, Paul Kagame, and other members of his administration, for the assassination of his predecessor. This case is under the regular jurisdiction of the French courts because French citizens were also killed in the plane crash.


The ICTR indicted a total of 95 individuals. Four individuals remain at large as fugitives and if captured they will be tried before the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. The ICTR convicted 55 individuals: 36 of whom are currently serving sentences, 16 of whom have completed their sentences, and three of whom died while serving their sentences. The Tribunal acquitted 14 individuals and transferred the cases against 10 individuals to national jurisdictions. The Tribunal ended proceedings against six individuals before a final judgment was rendered: two of whom had their charges dismissed by the Tribunal, two of whom had their charges withdrawn by the Prosecutor, and two of whom died.

See also


  1. Exact specification: "International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994", French: "Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda (TPIR)".
  2. United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. S/RES/955(1994) 8 November 1994. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  3. United Nations Security Council Resolution 977. S/RES/977(1995) 22 February 1995. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  4. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1165. S/RES/1165(1998) 30 April 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  5. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1824. S/RES/1824(2008) page 1. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  6. [1]
  7. [2] Reuters (July 29, 2008)
  8. [3]
  9. "ICTR to Digitalize Court Proceedings,", 8 Mar 2010
  10. " ICTR to Digitize Video Recordings of its Trial Proceedings," ICTR website, 4 Mar 2010 Archived September 14, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. [4]
  12. "Rwanda/UN: Acknowledging Failure", AfricaFocus Bulletin (compiling several individual reports), March 31, 2004
  13. "International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (ICTR)," PiCT(Project on International Courts and Tribunals) 24 September 2013
  14. Klaus Bachmann, Thomas Sparrow-Botero, Peter Lambertz: When justice meets politics. Independence and Autonomy of ad hoc international criminal tribunals, Peter Lang Int 2013
  15. The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu (Trial Judgement), ICTR-96-4-T, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 2 September 1998, p. 166 ¶.733. Available at: [accessed 13 April 2010]
  16. Quoted in citation for honorary doctorate, Rhodes University, April 2005 accessed at [5] March 23, 2007
  17. Grunfeld|2007|pp=21-22>Grunfeld, Fred (2007). The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of Bystanders. Brill. ISBN 978-9004157811. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    • Jones, Adam (2010). "Genocide and Mass Violence". In Laura J. Shepherd. Gender Matters in Global Politics. Routledge. pp. 127–147. ISBN 978-0-203-86494-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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