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Rwanda: Former Minister Convicted of Crimes Committed During 1994 Genocide

(June 27, 2011) On June 24, 2011, the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) convicted Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Rwanda's former Minister for Family Affairs and Women's Development, of crimes committed in the Butare Prefecture during the 1994 genocide. (Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala, Woman Minister Guilty of Genocide in Rwanda, REUTERS (June 24, 2011).) The ICTR prosecutor brought charges against Nyiramasuhuko on 11 counts, including conspiracy to commit genocide and the crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, and rape. (Summary of Judgment and Sentence, Case No. ICTR-98-42-T, ICTR website (June 24, 2011).)

During the trial, it was established that Nyiramasuhuko was a member of the Cabinet at the time of the genocide and participated in discussions and decision-making that encouraged members of the population to kill Tutsis and triggered the massacres in Butare prefecture. (Id.) She was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to life in prison. (Id.)

The court also convicted five other individuals, including Nyiramasuhuko's son, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, of crimes committed during the 1994 genocide. Ntahobali, who was a student at the time, was charged on ten counts, including genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape as a crime against humanity, persecution as a crime against humanity, violation to life [sic] as a war crime, and outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime. (Id.) He was found guilty on six counts and sentenced to life in prison. (Id.) Sylvain Nsabimana, former Préfet of Butare; Alphonse Nteziryayo, who was a lieutenant colonel in the armed forces and also a former Préfet of Butare; Joseph Kanyabashi, former Bourgmestre of Ngoma commune, and Élie Ndayambaje, a former Bourgmestre of Muganza commune, were also convicted.

The ICTR was created on November 8, 1994, by a United Nations Security Council resolution, with a mandate to prosecute the individuals who perpetrated the genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda and neighboring countries from January 1 to December 31, 1994. (General Information, ICTR website (last visited June 22, 2011).) Located in Arusha, Tanzania, the ICTR is made up of three organs: the Chambers and the Appeals Chamber, the Office of the Prosecutor (tasked with investigations and prosecutions), and the Registry (tasked with providing judicial and administrative support to the other organs). (Id.) Not counting the above-discussed cases, the ICTR has issued decisions in 36 cases since its inception. (Id.)