Global Policy Forum

Rwandan Anger at Suspect Transfer


February 16, 2006

Rwanda has criticised a UN court set up to try genocide suspects for allowing a case to be transferred from its base in Tanzania to Norway.

Michel Bagaragaza was head of the Rwandan tea industry and is accused of organising his staff into a militia during the 1994 genocide. Chief prosecutor at the backlogged tribunal said three other European states had also agreed to hear cases. Rwanda has repeatedly asked for cases to be transferred to its jurisdiction. This option has not been acceptable to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), as Rwanda will not repeal the death penalty.

Norway will become the first country outside Africa to try a Rwandan genocide suspect at the request of the ICTR. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during the genocide.

No death penalty

Alloys Mutabingwa, Rwanda's representative to the ICTR, told AFP news agency that the former Yugoslavia had had cases assigned to its courts from its international criminal tribunal. "Rwanda does not support double standards," he said.

Prosecutor Hassan Jallow told the BBC the European states were picked for their standards of justice and because they did not impose the death penalty, which the tribunal does not allow. The defence has agreed to Mr Bagaragaza's case being heard in Norway, where he will be imprisoned if found guilty. He faces a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison if convicted.

Mr Bagaragaza is accused of working with tea factory workers to kill Tutsis who had sought refuge in the north-western Gisenyi region. He was seen as being close to Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a plane crash on 6 April, 1994, sparked the 100-day massacres.

Time constraints

Correspondents say the Arusha tribunal has set very high standards of justice, but tried very few cases. Since the court started in 1997, the ICTR has convicted 23 suspects and acquitted three. But correspondents note that pressure has grown on the tribunal to find other countries to hear its cases, as the genocide involved huge numbers of people. The court is due to be disbanded in 2008.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
More Information on Rwanda


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.