The ICTR was created by Security Council Resolution 955 on November 8, 1994, pursuant to the Security Council’s Chapter VII powers under the UN Charter. Its mandate includes the prosecution of crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes occurring between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1994, in Rwanda, and also related crimes by Rwandan citizens in neighboring countries during that period and crimes committed within Rwanda by non-Rwandan citizens. As a UN tribunal, the judges and attorneys are employees of the United Nations. By subsequent Security Council Resolution 977 on February 22, 1995, the ICTR is located in Arusha, Tanzania.
Due to the large number of alleged perpetrators involved in the Rwandan genocide, only the highest-level offenders are subject to the jurisdiction of the ICTR. Many alleged perpetrators are being tried in domestic gacaca courts in Rwanda, or in national courts of other countries.
Jean Kambanda was Rwanda’s former Prime Minister of the Interim Government, following the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana. He is the highest-ranking former political leader in ICTR’s custody.
He was accused and found guilty of, “genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide,” (ICTR case) crimes against humanity (murder), and crimes against humanity (extermination). He publicly encouraged killing, incited massacres, and congratulated people committing the murders.
In a trial that began in 1998, Kambanda pled guilty. This is the first time ever that a head of state pled guilty to genocide. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The verdict was upheld by the ICTR Appeal Chamber in October 2000, and Kambanda is currently jailed in Mali.
Jean Paul Akayesu, as bourgmestre, responsible for “maintaining law and public order” of the Taba commune, was accused of genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity (extermination), crimes against humanity (murder), crimes against humanity (torture), crimes against humanity (rape), and crimes against humanity (other inhumane acts).
He facilitated and oversaw sexual violence, murder, and torture within the bureau communal in which he worked and made no attempts to stop the murder of over 2,000 Tutsis.
Akayesu was arrested in Zambia in 1995 and pled not guilty. He was found guilty of nine out of 15 counts; in October 1998, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently jailed in Mali.
In the Akayesu judgment, the ICTR provided the first interpretation of genocide as defined in the Genocide Convention and affirmed that rape may be a tool of genocide and is thus an international crime. (ICTR case)
Ferdinand Nahimana was the co-founder of radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), where information was broadcast during the genocide to help coordinate the killings and incite hatred toward Tutsi victims. He was arrested in Cameroon in 1996 and stood trial at ICTR. He was found guilty of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes again humanity (persecution), and crimes against humanity (extermination).
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2003 and appealed his case. In November 2007 the ICTR Appeals Chamber found him only guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity (persecution). His sentence was reduced to 30 years’ imprisonment and he is currently jailed in Mali. (ICTR case)
For more information, visit www.unictr.org.
This page was written jointly by Christie Nicoson, Former Program and Operations Coordinator, Lisa Dailey, Former News Associate, and Rachel Hall Beecroft, Former Program and Operations Coordinator. This page was updated 2/21/17.
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