Released by Rwanda tribunal but still in Arusha

24 September 2014 by Clive Muhenga, Arusha (Tanzania)

Unlike those acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) who have been welcomed home as heroes, Rwandans cleared by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are leery of returning home. Without travel documents or nations willing to host them, eight remain in limbo in Arusha, the seat of the ICTR. To date, the tribunal has secured new countries of residence for just six of the 14 acquitted so far. 

ICTR plaque
Image caption: 
ICTR plaque (Flickr/adam_jones)

The most recent departure was on 18 September, when General Augustin Ndindiliyimana left for Belgium. The former chief of staff of the Rwandan Gendarmerie had been arrested in 2000 in Belgium, where he was living as a refugee with his family. He was sentenced to 11 years for his role in the 1994 genocide, but was acquitted on appeal in February [IJT-163]. Along with the eight others – some idling for years already in ‘safe houses’ – he leaves behind three Rwandans who have finished serving their sentences.

In conversations with IJT, in which no one wished to be individually quoted, those still in Arusha say they fear returning to Rwanda, where they believe they are still seen as “genocidaires” and could “be assassinated” or “be re-arrested”. All would like travel documents to be able to join their families now resident in Europe or North America.

ICTR talks with Kigali 

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.