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 

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