UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [BBC profile] stressed [press release] that the international community must do more to prevent atrocities, during a ceremony Monday commemorating the nineteenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. Ban urged member states to precipitate the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the Rwanda genocide [BBC backgrounder]. The Secretary-General commended Rwanda for its progress towards a peaceful and just society and reiterated the UN's commitment to helping the international community prevent any future atrocities. Focusing on the growing hostilities in Syria, however, Ban urged member states to be more active in prosecuting perpetrators of genocide and war crimes:
Human protection, human security, human dignity—these are shared responsibilities. Collectively, as a human family, we must go beyond words and effectively safeguard people at risk. States must uphold their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, to prevent abuses and protect their populations from genocide and other crimes.Ban cited the international criminal system as a testament to the UN's commitment to confront the most heinous atrocities and urged member states to continue to seek justice for the victims of the Rwanda genocide.
After the Rwandan genocide that took the lives of 800,000 people, international and domestic courts have attempted to try those responsible. Earlier this month, French law enforcement officials arrested [JURIST report] former Rwandan leader Tite Barahira for conspiracy to commit genocide. To date, it is unclear whether Barahira will be extradited or if he will stand trial in France. Last month, a Dutch court convicted [JURIST report] Yvonne Basebya of inciting genocide after finding that she led meetings of a radical Hutu party and sang a song that called for the murder of all Tutsis. Basebya was sentenced to six years in prison. In February, a court in Norway convicted [JURIST report] a Rwandan man living in Oslo for acting as an accomplice to the genocide. The court sentenced him to 21 years in prison.