The conviction of a former Rwandan senior official convicted of the crime of genocide in Brussels on Thursday is the latest in a long list of convictions worldwide for crimes related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The massacres, at the instigation of the ruling Hutu extremist regime, left around 800,000 dead between April and July 1994, mainly among the Tutsi minority, but also among moderate Hutu, according to the UN.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was created by a UN Security Council resolution of November 1994.
Based in Arusha, Tanzania, it is one of the first jurisdictions to rule on genocide charges.
He has pronounced dozens of sentences, up to life imprisonment, but also acquittals. Since its closure in 2015, a monitoring mechanism of the UN criminal courts has been responsible for completing its work.
The ICTR notably sentenced former Rwandan Minister Augustin Ngirabatware to 30 years in prison, a conviction confirmed in September 2019 by international justice after a review of his trial.
Since the trials of the alleged genocidaires began in 1996, 22 death row inmates have been executed in Rwanda. Kigali abolished the death penalty in 2007, removing the main obstacle to the transfer of accused persons from the ICTR to Rwandan justice.
Between 2005 and 2012, more than 12,000 “gacaca”, people’s courts, tried almost two million people, for a sentence rate of 65%, generally to imprisonment.
In BELGIUM, in 2001, four Rwandans from the Butare region (south), including two Benedictine nuns, accused of delivering thousands of Hutu militia refugees to their convent, were sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison during a trial which was a world first for national civil justice outside Rwanda.
Two Rwandan notables were sentenced in 2005, then an ex-major in 2007. In 2009, a Rwandan, nicknamed the “genocide banker”, was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.
The conviction Thursday of Fabien Neretsé, a former Rwandan high official, is the first in Belgium to retain the crime of “genocide”. The 71-year-old Hutu was also convicted of nine “war crimes”.
In FRANCE, a country whose role during the genocide was very criticized, the first trial was that of Pascal Simbikangwa, former captain of the presidential guard.
He was sentenced on appeal in late 2016 to 25 years’ imprisonment for genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity, a sentence which became final in May 2018 after the dismissal of his cassation appeal.
In July 2016, the two former bourgmestres of the village of Kabarondo, Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Paris assizes for “crime against humanity” and “genocide”, a sentence confirmed on appeal in July 2018, which became final with the rejection of a cassation appeal.
In SWEDEN, three Swedes of Rwandan origin have been sentenced to life imprisonment since 2014 for their participation in the genocide.
In CANADA, in 2009, a Rwandan was sentenced to life imprisonment for his participation in the genocide.
In FINLAND, the conviction of a Hutu pastor in life imprisonment for acts “with the intention of destroying all or part of the Rwandan Tutsis” was confirmed in 2012.
In GERMANY, a former Rwandan mayor was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015 for his role in a church massacre.
In NORWAY, a 21-year prison sentence imposed on a Rwandan for contributing to the massacre of more than 1,000 Tutsis was confirmed on appeal in 2015.
In the United States, in 2013, an American of Rwandan origin was sentenced to 10 years in prison and deprived of her nationality for trying to conceal her role in the genocide.
In the NETHERLANDS, in 2013, a Dutch woman of Rwandan origin was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for inciting genocide. In 2011, a Rwandan was sentenced on appeal to life imprisonment for war crimes.
In SWITZERLAND, in 2000, a former mayor was sentenced on appeal to 14 years’ imprisonment for violations of the Geneva conventions on the law of war.