Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
|OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR
|BUREAU DU PROCUREUR
The Hague, 4 September 1998
STATEMENT BY JUSTICE LOUISE ARBOUR,
PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA
"THE SENTENCING OF JEAN KAMBANDA AND THE CONVICTION OF JEAN PAUL AKAYESU ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT STEPS TO DATE IN THE ERADICATION OF THE CULTURE OF IMPUNITY IN RWANDA AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD"
The Prosecutor of the ICTR applauds the completion this week of two important judicial proceedings.
The sentencing of Jean Kambanda
The guilty plea of Jean Kambanda, his conviction and the imposition by the court of a life sentence, close the first chapter in the history of the ICTR. This completed process will serve to keep alive the memory of the thousands who died, for the whole of the international community to remember. One can only hope that it will also offer a measure of peace and serenity to those who
The full impact of international criminal justice has been brought to bear today with the imposition of the highest form of punishment, on a former prime minister, for the commission of the crime of genocide.
National, ethnic, racial or religious intolerance is the plague of the modern world. It is also the driving force behind the crime of genocide, where victims are targeted as part of an effort to eradicate an entire group of people. Little can serve to mitigate liability for such actions. Today’s decision gives full force to the genocide Convention.
An unequivocal message has been sent, not only in Rwanda, and in the neighbouring countries, but also in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere in the world, that once- influential politicians are not immune from the reach of international criminal justice.
The conviction of Jean Paul Akayesu
The Prosecutor welcomes the landmark judgement issued by Trial Chamber I of the ICTR yesterday, finding Jean Paul AKAYESU guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
This judgement, long awaited by the people of Rwanda, is a major concrete step in the destruction of the culture of impunity.
The comprehensive analysis of both law and facts should permit a more expeditious disposition of the numerous cases awaiting trial in Arusha.
This decision should put to rest any fear that the ICTR, as a court of law, is in any way falling short of discharging the important mandate conferred upon it by the international community.
The judgement is truly remarkable in its breadth and vision, as well as in the detailed legal analysis on many issues that will be critical to the future of both ICTR and ICTY, in particular with respect to the law of sexual violence.
The Court showed great sensitivity to the difficulties of bringing forward the victims who are required to reveal, often in public, the shocking indignities to which they were subjected. The Court put forward a most compelling reasoning to sustain the conclusion that sexual violence can constitute an act of genocide. The Chamber said "sexual violence was a step in the process of
destruction of the Tutsi group -destruction of the spirit, of the will to live and of life itself ".
Other important issues in the judgement will require further analysis. In particular, the Prosecution will study the conclusion reached by the Trial Chamber that Akayesu was not guilty of violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions as an official with civilian, as opposed to military, authority. This is an area of particular concern to the
Prosecutor as it bears directly on the scope of criminal liability in the case of internal, rather than international armed conflicts.
The jurisprudence of ICTR and ICTY are inevitably inter-linked, if only through a potential recourse to a joint Appeals Chamber. This judgement lays the foundation for an effective and coherent approach to personal criminal responsibility for genocide. It will guide both the international community and, by the force of its reasoning, national courts, for years to come.