UN SG expresses regret for inaction during Rwanda genocide News
UN SG expresses regret for inaction during Rwanda genocide

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] on Monday made a statement in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, expressing regret [press release] for the UN’s silence during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder] that resulted in the deaths of 800,000 people. Ban urged [UN News Centre report] the international community to prevent such atrocities from occurring again and noted that progress in this direction has been made, such as the expansion of international criminal justice and the creation of groups like the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website]. Ban said:

On my first visit to the Gisozi Memorial, I heard and felt the silence of death. The silence of all those lost—and the silence of the international community in your hours of greatest need. Many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery. But we could have done much more. We should have done much more. In Rwanda, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed … The shame still clings, a generation after the events.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile], emphasized [press release] the importance of justice, saying, “We must ensure that we persist with efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, both within Rwanda and outside. Impunity adds insult to the grave injury, physical and emotional, suffered by the victims.” UN General Assembly President John Ashe [official profile] encouraged all UN member states to honor the memory of those killed and to continue to support survivors.

In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that significant progress had been made in national and international courts to bring to justice those responsible for the Rwandan genocide. Many countries have attempted to assist the ICTR in locating and bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide. In February, the ICTR announced that Augustin Ndindiliyimana, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan parliamentary police, and Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, the former commander of a military reconnaissance battalion, had been acquitted on appeal [JURIST report]. In November a French appeals court in Paris approved the extradition [JURIST report] of Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana, two suspects wanted in connection with the genocide. Last April French law enforcement officials arrested [JURIST report] Tite Barahira, a former Rwandan leader, for conspiracy to commit genocide. In December the ICTR convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity. The ICTR is tentatively supposed to close all cases by December 2014, and to officially close on September 30, 2015, using its remaining time to finish its residual mechanism, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) [official website].