Monday December 14, 2015 -
After 20 years the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has
today delivered its last verdict sitting as a court in
Arusha, Tanzania. It gave its decision on the appeals of
a notorious killer group known as the Butare 6 led by a
former minister, one Pauline Nyiramasuhuko.
The ICTR may have concluded its sittings
in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, but its work to bring
to justice all those connected with the 1994 genocide in
Rwanda will continue with a residual court ready to meet
anywhere to look into matters relating to its mandate -
bringing to justice all those deemed to have been the
brains behind the slaughter of close to a million
moderate Hutus and Tutsis.
Just as the Special Court for Sierra
Leone has its own Residual Court to handle such matters
- the ICTR has what it calls the Mechanism. The ICTR
still has a number of
fugitives it would
dearly love to bring to justice, among them the
notorious and affluent
who is believed to have connections with
highly placed government officials
in East and Central Africa willing to cover his tracks
as justice officials try to arrest him.
Kindly recall why the ICTR was set up as found on its
United Nations Security Council established the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to "prosecute
persons responsible for genocide and other serious
violations of international humanitarian law committed
in the territory of Rwanda and neighbouring States,
between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994".
Since it opened in 1995, the Tribunal
has indicted 93 individuals whom it considered
responsible for serious violations of international
humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994. Those
indicted include high-ranking military and government
officials, politicians, businessmen, as well as
religious, militia, and media leaders. The ICTR is the
first ever international tribunal to deliver verdicts in
relation to genocide, and the first to interpret the
definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva
Conventions. It also is the first international tribunal
to define rape in international criminal law and to
recognise rape as a means of perpetrating genocide.
Another landmark was reached in the
"Media case", where the ICTR became the first
international tribunal to hold members of the media
responsible for broadcasts intended to inflame the
public to commit acts of genocide. One key function
assumed by the Mechanism is the tracking and arrest of
the three accused who remain fugitives from justice. The
ICTR indicted Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and
Augustin Bizimana on charges of genocide and crimes
against humanity, but the accused have to date evaded
justice. The continued cooperation of national
governments and the international community as a whole
is of paramount importance to the successful
apprehension of these fugitives. When apprehended, the
Mechanism will conduct their trials and supervise any
sentence imposed along with all of the sentences
previously imposed by the ICTR.
is a part of the summary of the court's decision on the
appeals lodged on behalf of the Butare 6. The full
summary could be found
Appeals Chamber today delivered its judgement on the appeals lodged by
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, Sylvain
Nsabimana, Alphonse Nteziryayo, Joseph Kanyabashi, Élie
Ndayambaje, and the Prosecution.
This last judgement of
the Appeals Chamber brings an end to the Tribunal’s
Nyiramasuhuko served as Minister of Family and Women’s
Development under the interim government in 1994.
Ntahobali, Nyiramasuhuko’s son, was a student and
part‑time manager of Hotel Ihuliro in Butare-ville
Sector in April 1994. Nsabimana was appointed prefect of
Butare on 19 April 1994 and served in that position
until 17 June 1994 when he was replaced by Nteziryayo.
Kanyabashi was the bourgmestre of Ngoma Commune during
the events at issue. Ndayambaje served as bourgmestre of
Muganza Commune from 18 June 1994 until he left Rwanda
on 7 July 1994.
Kanyabashi and Ndayambaje were arrested in Belgium on 28
June 1995 and transferred to the custody of the Tribunal
on 8 November 1996. Nyiramasuhuko and Nsabimana were
arrested in Kenya on 18 July 1997 and Ntahobali was
arrested there on 24 July 1997. Nyiramasuhuko, Nsabimana,
and Ntahobali were each transferred to the custody of
the Tribunal on the day of his or her arrest. Nteziryayo
was arrested in Burkina Faso on 26 March 1998 and
transferred to the custody of the Tribunal on 21 May
On 24 June 2011, Trial Chamber II convicted
Nyiramasuhuko, Ntahobali, Nsabimana, Kanyabashi, and
Ndayambaje of genocide, crimes against humanity, and one
or more serious violations of Article 3 common to the
Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II. The
Trial Chamber also convicted Nyiramasuhuko of conspiracy
to commit genocide and found Nteziryayo, Kanyabashi, and
Ndayambaje guilty of direct and public incitement to
commit genocide. The Trial Chamber sentenced
Nyiramasuhuko, Ntahobali, and Ndayambaje to life
imprisonment and imposed sentences of 25, 30, and 35
years of imprisonment on Nsabimana, Nteziryayo, and
With respect to the individual appeals, the Appeals
Chamber affirmed Nyiramasuhuko’s conviction for
conspiracy to commit genocide on the basis that she
entered into an agreement with members of the Interim
Government on or after 9 April 1994 to kill Tutsis
within Butare Prefecture. It also upheld findings of her
criminal responsibility in relation to attacks at the
Butare Prefecture Office in May and June 1994, affirming
her convictions on the basis that she ordered the
killing of Tutsis who had sought refuge at the
prefectoral office and as a superior of Interahamwe who
perpetrated rapes there.
The Appeals Chamber, unanimously and, in one instance,
by a majority, affirmed Ntahobali’s criminal
(i) killing a Tutsi girl he had
first raped at the Hotel Ihuliro roadblock in late April
(ii) ordering the killing of a man named Léopold
Ruvurajabo at the Hotel Ihuliro roadblock on 21 April
1994, the killing of Tutsis at the Institut de recherche
scientifique et technique on 21 April 1994, and the
killing of Tutsis who had sought refuge at the Butare
Prefecture Office during an attack there in mid-May
(iii) aiding and abetting the killings of
Tutsis abducted from the École évangéliste du Rwanda
between mid-May and early June 1994.
The Appeals Chamber
further affirmed Ntahobali’s criminal responsibility
(i) raping a Tutsi girl near the Hotel Ihuliro
roadblock in late April 1994 as well as Witness TA
during two attacks in May 1994 at the prefectoral
(ii) ordering the rape of Witness TA at the prefectoral office during an attack in the last of half
of May 1994; and
(iii) aiding and abetting the rapes of
Witness TA at the prefectoral office in June 1994.
The Appeals Chamber affirmed Nsabimana’s convictions on
the basis of aiding and abetting by omission the killing
of Tutsis who had sought refuge at the Butare Prefecture
Office by failing to discharge his duty to provide
assistance to people in danger and to protect civilians
against acts of violence. It also affirmed Nteziryayo’s
convictions for direct and public incitement to commit
genocide on the basis that he made speeches that
constituted direct appeals to the population to kill
Tutsis at public meetings held in Muyaga and Kibayi
Communes in mid to late June 1994 and at the 22 June
1994 swearing-in ceremony of Ndayambaje as the new
bourgmestre of Muganza Commune.
Having considered the impact of its findings on appeal,
in particular that the six appellants’ right to be tried
without undue delay had been violated, the Appeals
Chamber reduced the life sentences imposed by the Trial
Chamber on Nyiramasuhuko, Ntahobali, and Ndayambaje, to
47 years of imprisonment for each of them.
to Nsabimana, Nteziryayo, and Kanyabashi, the Appeals
Chamber further found certain errors in the Trial
Chamber’s determination of their respective sentences,
and considering the impact of all its findings, reduced
Nsabimana’s sentence to 18 years of imprisonment,
Nteziryayo’s sentence to 25 years of imprisonment, and
Kanyabashi’s sentence to 20 years of imprisonment.
Considering time already served, the Appeals Chamber
ordered Nsabimana’s and Kanyabashi’s immediate release.
A study of the case of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko
shows just how the human being can, at an opportune
moment, become worse than the most savage of beasts.
Here was a woman from a poor background who with
determination and the will to prove that being born poor
is not a condemnation, got academic and other
qualifications that would make her the perfect loving
mother, the perfect African woman who cares for the
needy in any community she knows that needs her help.
And what changed?
She found herself in a position of
trust and power with the right connections including
having a school mate being married to the President of
Rwanda. One online columnist, Peter Landesman has
written a piece from which we bring you this excerpt. He
calls it -
A Woman's Work -
"Slaughter, and then worse, came to
Butare, a sleepy, sun-bleached Rwandan town, in the
spring of 1994. Hutu death squads armed with machetes
and nail-studded clubs had deployed throughout the
countryside, killing, looting and burning. Roadblocks
had been set up to cull fleeing Tutsis. By the third
week of April, as the Rwanda genocide was reaching its
peak intensity, tens of thousands of corpses were
rotting in the streets of Kigali, the country's capital.
Butare, a stronghold of Tutsis and politically moderate
Hutus that had resisted the government's orders for
genocide, was the next target. Its residents could hear
gunfire from the hills in the west; at night they
watched the firelight of torched nearby villages. Armed
Hutus soon gathered on the edges of town, but Butare's
panicked citizens defended its borders.
Enraged by Butare's revolt, Rwanda's interim government
dispatched Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the national minister
of family and women's affairs, from Kigali on a mission.
Before becoming one of the most powerful women in
Rwanda's government, Pauline -- as everyone, enemy and
ally alike, called her -- had grown up on a small
farming commune just outside Butare. She was a local
success story, known to some as Butare's favorite
daughter. Her return would have a persuasive resonance
there. Soon after Pauline's arrival in town, cars
mounted with loudspeakers crisscrossed Butare's back
roads, announcing that the Red Cross had arrived at a
nearby stadium to provide food and guarantee sanctuary.
By April 25, thousands of desperate Tutsis had gathered
at the stadium.
It was a trap. Instead of receiving food and shelter,
the refugees were surrounded by men wearing bandoleers
and headdresses made of spiky banana leaves. These men
were Interahamwe, thuggish Hutu marauders whose name
means ''those who attack together.''
According to an eyewitness I spoke
with this summer in Butare, supervising from the
sidelines was Pauline, then 48, a portly woman of medium
height in a colorful African wrap and spectacles. Before
becoming Rwanda's chief official for women's affairs,
Pauline was a social worker, roaming the countryside,
offering lectures on female empowerment and instruction
on child care and AIDS prevention. Her days as minister
were similarly devoted to improving the lives of women
But at the stadium, a 30-year-old
farmer named Foster Mivumbi told me, Pauline assumed a
different responsibility. Mivumbi, who has confessed to
taking part in the slaughter, told me that Pauline
goaded the Interahamwe, commanding, ''Before you kill
the women, you need to rape them.'' Tutsi women were
then selected from the stadium crowd and dragged away to
a forested area to be raped, Mivumbi recalled. Back at
the stadium, he told me, Pauline waved her arms and then
observed in silence as Interahamwe rained machine-gun
fire and hand grenades down upon the remaining refugees.
The Hutus finished off survivors with machetes. It took
about an hour, ending at noon. Pauline stayed on,
Mivumbi told me, until a bulldozer began piling bodies
for burial in a nearby pit. (When questioned about this
incident, Pauline's lawyers denied that she took part in
atrocities in Butare.)
Shortly afterward, according to another witness, Pauline
arrived at a compound where a group of Interahamwe was
guarding 70 Tutsi women and girls. One Interahamwe, a
young man named Emmanuel Nsabimana, told me through a
translator that Pauline ordered him and the others to
burn the women. Nsabimana recalled that one Interahamwe
complained that they lacked sufficient gasoline.
''Pauline said, 'Don't worry, I have jerrycans of
gasoline in my car,' '' Nsabimana recalled. ''She said,
'Go take that gasoline and kill them.' I went to the car
and took the jerrycans. Then Pauline said, 'Why don't
you rape them before you kill them?' But we had been
killing all day, and we were tired. We just put the
gasoline in bottles and scattered it among the women,
then started burning.''
Around the same time, some Interahamwe arrived at the
local hospital, where a unit of Doctors Without Borders
was in residence. Rose, a young Tutsi woman who had
sought refuge at the hospital, watched in terror as
soldiers stormed the complex. (Rose, who is now under
military protection, requested that her last name not be
printed.) ''They said that Pauline had given them
permission to go after the Tutsi girls, who were too
proud of themselves,'' Rose told me. ''She was the
minister, so they said they were free to do it.''
Pauline had led the soldiers to see rape as a reward.
Chief among the Interahamwe at the hospital was
Pauline's only son, a 24-year-old student named Arsene
Shalom Ntahobali. Shalom, as he was known, was over six
feet tall, slightly overweight and clean-shaven. He wore
a track suit and sneakers; grenades dangled from his
waist. Rose said that Shalom, who repeatedly announced
that he had ''permission'' from his mother to rape
Tutsis, found her cowering in the maternity ward. He
yanked her to her feet and raped her against the wall.
Before leaving Rose to chase after some students who had
been hiding nearby, he promised that he'd return to kill
her. But before Shalom could do so, she fled the
hospital and ran home to her family.
Rose said that during the months the genocide was
carried out, she saw Pauline Nyiramasuhuko three times.
The minister was an unforgettable sight. She'd exchanged
her colorful civilian wraps for brand-new military
fatigues and boots. She was seen carrying a machine gun
over her shoulder.
Other survivors told me they heard the
minister for women and family affairs spit invectives at
Tutsi women, calling them ''cockroaches'' and ''dirt.''
She advised the men to choose the young women for sex
and kill off the old.
By one account, women were forced to
raise their shirts to separate the mothers from the
''virgins.'' Sometimes, I was told, Pauline handed
soldiers packets of condoms. Much of the violence took
place in the scrubby yard in front of Butare's local
government offices, or prefecture, where at one point
hundreds of Tutsis were kept under guard.
Witnesses recalled that Pauline showed
up at night in a white Toyota pickup truck, often driven
by Shalom, and supervised as Interahamwe loaded the
truck with women who were driven off and never seen
again. Often, when a woman at the prefecture saw
Pauline, she appealed to her, as a fellow woman and
mother, for mercy. But this, claimed survivors, only
enraged Pauline. When one woman wouldn't stop crying
out, a survivor recalled, the minister told the
Interahamwe to shut her up. They stabbed the pleading
woman and then slit her throat.
These facts are harrowing. More shocking still is that
so many of these crimes were supposedly inspired and
orchestrated by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, whose very job
was the preservation, education and empowerment of
In July 1994 Pauline fled Rwanda in a
mass exodus of more than one million Hutus fearing
retribution by the advancing Tutsi rebel army, the
Rwandan Patriotic Front. After finding safety in a
refugee camp in Congo, she eventually slipped into
Kenya, where she lived as a fugitive for almost three
On July 18, 1997, however, Pauline was
apprehended in Nairobi by Kenyan and international
authorities. (Shalom was seized six days later, in a
Nairobi grocery store he was running.) After
interrogation by investigators, Pauline was transferred
with Shalom to Tanzania, where both were delivered to
the International Tribunal in Arusha.)
Pauline has consistently denied the
charges against her. In 1995, before she was arrested,
she gave an interview to the BBC in a squalid Hutu
refugee camp across the Congo border, where she had been
leading the camp's social services; her job duties
included the reuniting of separated parents and
children. When asked what she did during the war,
Pauline replied: ''We moved around the region to pacify.
We wrote a pacification document saying people shouldn't
kill each other.
Saying it's genocide, that's not true.
It was the Tutsi who massacred the Hutu.'' Told that
witnesses had accused her of murder, Pauline shot back:
''I cannot even kill a chicken. If there is a person who
says that a woman -- a mother -- killed, then I'll
confront that person.''
The crimes Pauline Nyiramasuhuko are
accused of are monstrous. Her capacity for pity and
compassion, and her professional duty to shield the
powerless, deserted her, or collapsed under the
irresistible urge for power. But in seeking a reasonable
explanation for Pauline's barbarity, I remembered
something that Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch
''This behavior lies just under the
surface of any of us,'' Des Forges said. ''The
simplified accounts of genocide allow distance between
us and the perpetrators of genocide. They are so evil we
couldn't ever see ourselves doing the same thing. But if
you consider the terrible pressure under which people
were operating, then you automatically reassert their
humanity -- and that becomes alarming.
You are forced to look at these
situations and say, 'What would I have done?' Sometimes
the answer is not encouraging.''
Pauline did possess humanity, but it
was in short supply, and she reserved it for her only
son, Shalom, whom she had helped turn into a rapist and
In one of her last moments as an
engineer of the genocide, however, she returned to her
role as woman and mother. It was in July 1994, right
when the Hutu Army was collapsing. Butare had descended
into mayhem, and Pauline's side had lost.
One of Pauline's neighbors, Lela,
spotted the minister in the streets. ''I saw Pauline and
Shalom at a roadblock,'' she said. ''Pauline was wearing
military fatigues, and she was still trying to separate
Tutsis and Hutus, but the confusion was massive. There
were people running everywhere. The Rwandan Patriotic
Front was coming.''
A short time later, Lela saw Pauline
again. This time she was standing alone outside her
home, looking worried. ''I was shocked,'' Lela said.
''She was wearing camouflage. She was standing upright
in her uniform like a soldier, trying to see what was
happening up and down the road. She just looked furious.
She was looking everywhere for Shalom. He was her pet.
She loved Shalom so much.''