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International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda[a] (ICTR; French: Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda; Kinyarwanda: Urukiko Mpanabyaha Mpuzamahanga Rwashyiriweho u Rwanda) was 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.[1]

International Criminal Tribunal
for Rwanda (ICTR)
Plaque of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda-ICTR - Kimironko District - Kigali - Rwanda.jpg
Established 8 November 1994
Dissolved 31 December 2015
Country Rwanda
Location Arusha, Tanzania
Authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 955
No. of positions 16 permanent
9 ad litem
Currently Vagn Joensen (Denmark)

In 1995, it became located in Arusha, Tanzania, under Resolution 977.[2] (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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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[6]) 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 has begun 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.[7] The Tribunal was officially closed on 31 December 2015.

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.[8][9]


The Rwandan genocideEdit

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. The duration of the 1994 genocide is usually described as 100 days, beginning on April 6 and ending in mid-July.[10]

Tension between the majority Hutu and the minority Tutsi had developed over time but was particularly emphasized late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century as a result of German and Belgian colonialism over Rwanda. The ethnic categorization of the two were an imposed and arbitrary construct based more on physical characteristics than ethnic background. However, the social differences between the Hutu and the Tusi have traditionally allowed the Tutsi, with a strong pastoralist tradition, to gain social, economic, and political ascendancy over the Hutu, who were primarily agriculturalists.[10] The distinction under colonial powers allowed Tutsis to establish ruling power, until a Hutu revolution in 1959 abolished the Tutsi monarchy by 1961.

The hostility between the two groups continued, as “additional rounds of ethnic tension and violence flared periodically and led to mass killings of Tutsi in Rwanda, such as in 1963, 1967, and 1973.”[10] The establishment of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its invasion from Uganda furthered ethnic hatred. A ceasefire in these hostilities led to negotiations between the government and the RPF in 1992.[11]

On April 6, 1994 a plane carrying then President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down, killing everyone on board.[12] The Hutu held the RPF accountable, and immediately began the genocide, targeted at both Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Most of the killing during the Rwandan genocide was carried out by the radical Hutu groups known as the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi.[13] Radio broadcasts also were an integral part of the genocide, which further fueled the genocide by encouraging Hutu civilians to kill their Tutsi neighbours, labeled as “cockroaches” in need of extermination.[10] Despite its colossal scale, particularly within such a short period of time, the genocide was carried out almost entirely by hand, usually with the utilization of machetes and clubs.[14] Various atrocities committed include the rape and sex slavery of thousands of Tutsi women, as well as the dismemberment and disfigurement of victims. Frequently the killers were people the victims knew personally—neighbours, workmates, former friends, sometimes even relatives through marriage.[14] 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.[13]

Establishment of the ICTREdit

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda is regarded as a major failure.[15] The international response to the Rwandan genocide was poor. For weeks, the major power nations denied that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda. 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, 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 8 November 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.[16]

ICTR StructureEdit

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 IEdit

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

Trial Chamber IIEdit

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

Trial Chamber IIIEdit

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

Appeals ChamberEdit

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

Office of the ProsecutorEdit

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 RegistryEdit

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. Bongani Christopher Majola of South Africa is the present Registrar. He took office in January 2013.

The Case of Jean-Paul AkayesuEdit

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,[17] 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."[18] 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."[19]

The Case of Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco BarayagwizaEdit

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.[20]

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 activitiesEdit

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 61 individuals: 33 of whom are currently serving sentences, 22 of whom have completed their sentences, and six of who 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ Full name: 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


  1. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. S/RES/955(1994) 8 November 1994. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  2. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 977. S/RES/977(1995) 22 February 1995. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  3. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1165. S/RES/1165(1998) 30 April 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  4. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1824. S/RES/1824(2008) page 1. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  6. ^ [1] Reuters (July 29, 2008)
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "ICTR to Digitalize Court Proceedings,", 8 Mar 2010
  9. ^ " ICTR to Digitize Video Recordings of its Trial Proceedings," ICTR website, 4 Mar 2010 Archived September 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b c d "Rwanda Genocide of 1994". Encyclopedia Britannica. 5 August 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  11. ^ "The Rwandan Genocide". History. 2009. Archived from the original on 2017-07-02. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  12. ^ "Rwanda Genocide: 100 days of slaughter". BBC News. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "Rwandan Genocide". World Without Genocide. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "1994: Rwanda"". Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "Rwanda/UN: Acknowledging Failure", AfricaFocus Bulletin (compiling several individual reports), March 31, 2004
  16. ^ "International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (ICTR)," PiCT(Project on International Courts and Tribunals) 24 September 2013
  17. ^ Klaus Bachmann, Thomas Sparrow-Botero, Peter Lambertz: When justice meets politics. Independence and Autonomy of ad hoc international criminal tribunals, Peter Lang Int 2013
  18. ^ The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu (Trial Judgement), ICTR-96-4-T, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 2 September 1998, p. 166 Archived 2012-10-12 at the Wayback Machine. ¶.733. Available at: [accessed 13 April 2010]
  19. ^ Quoted in citation for honorary doctorate, Rhodes University, April 2005 accessed at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-02-27.  March 23, 2007
  20. ^ Grunfeld, Fred; Anke Huijboom (2007). The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of Bystanders. Brill. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-9004157811. 
    • 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. 

External linksEdit