Role of the international community in bringing genocide perpetrators to justice

In 1994, the international community looked on as a million people were killed in three months.  The international community utterly failed to prevent and stop this atrocity there are numerous interconnected and complex factors that led to international inaction, such as a misguided view of African conflicts, the bureaucratic nature of the United Nations and peacekeeping fatigue in general.

Countries like France knew that there were ethnic massacres going on in Rwanda, but continued to give military and political support to the interim government. At the aftermath, the international community tried to make amends, by setting up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, with the purpose of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) was an international court established in November 1994 by the United Nations Security Council in order to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda by Rwandan citizens in nearby states.

In its 21 years, the court has indicted 93 people among which only 61 were sentenced and 14 were acquitted at a huge cost of $2 Billion. Many people felt that the international community had not done enough in their quest for justice for the victims, who were abandoned.

The Rwandan government says that most of the people who orchestrated the genocide against the Tutsi, are not in Arusha, but are rather in various countries around the World, where they are free men and women.  This includes people like Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana.

Justice is a requirement for healing and in this regard the international community should pledge support to the government of Rwanda in the search for those perpetrators at large and put pressure on countries harboring them to release them to Rwanda, so that they may face justice.  


Background of the ICTR Court

The United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to "prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994". The Tribunal is located in Arusha, Tanzania, and has offices in Kigali, Rwanda. Its Appeals Chamber is located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The writer is a Human Rights Expert with Never Again Rwanda and can be reached on email