The Penalisation of History

03 June 2002 by -

Alison Des Forges has finished giving evidence as a prosecution witness in the Media trial. Her expert testimony proved to be mostly general, and was often in response to questions far removed from the genocide. Once Alison Des Forges had taken her oath, the traditional exercise of presenting the witness to the court was an unusually lengthy affair, far longer than most expert witnesses called to testify before the ICTR.

Alison Des Forges has finished giving evidence as a prosecution witness in the Media trial. Her expert testimony proved to be mostly general, and was often in response to questions far removed from the genocide. Once Alison Des Forges had taken her oath, the traditional exercise of presenting the witness to the court was an unusually lengthy affair, far longer than most expert witnesses called to testify before the ICTR. The curriculum vitae of the American Alison Des Forges, who holds a PhD in African History and a post as Senior Advisor to the African Division of the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, is not only impressive for its string of degrees earned at the top US universities. More striking is her thirty-five year relationship with Rwanda. Alison Des Forges is clearly a connoisseur of the 1994 genocide. During numerous visits to the « country of a thousand hills », she has amassed countless testimonies and written statements from survivors, assisted with the excavation of mass graves and gained access to often confidential diplomatic documents to support her research.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.