7 February 2013

Rwanda: The Enigmatic ICTR Does It Again

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.


The International criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has, yet again, gone down the same old path of promoting impunity.

While it would be wrong to lay blame on the court as a whole, the appeals chamber needs to undergo serious scrutiny.

This time, it has decided to overturn a lower court's decision, that sentenced to 30 years each, former Commerce and Industry Minister, Justin Mugenzi and his colleague, Prosper Mugiraneza, Minister of Public Service.

The crimes they were accused of were committed in broad daylight because they enjoyed state-supported impunity.

Anyone conversant with Rwanda's history must be aware of Mugenzi's January 1994 hatred-tinged speech he made in Nyamirambo Stadium in Kigali, where he warned Tutsis, openly, of what would befall them. The speech was broadcast live and the UN has the recordings.

Mugenzi's words were not so different from Leon Mugesera's famous Kabaya speech; it is known as "direct and public incitement to commit Genocide" in judicial lingo.

It does not need five judges of the appeals chamber to determine whether Mugenzi's speech constituted a crime or not, it is as clear as day.

Unless the court believes it was not Mugenzi on the tapes, which the accused does not deny, the judges should not base their judgments on semantics and technicalities.

The string of notorious ICTR Appeals chamber acquittals should not discourage those who seek justice, but should motivate them to work even harder to see that justice is done.

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