Rwandan Genocide Financier Escapes Conviction Due to Dementia.

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Rwandan Genocide Financier Evades Conviction Due to Dementia

Felicien Kabuga, the Rwandan financier behind a notorious radio station linked to the Tutsi genocide, will not face conviction by the UN tribunal at The Hague due to his extensive dementia. Despite his clear role in the genocide, Kabuga managed to evade capture for decades, utilizing his wealth and employing multiple aliases.

International Relief as Notorious Fugitive Finally Captured

After years of pursuit, Kabuga was captured in France in 2020, providing a sense of relief to advocates of international law. Kabuga played a significant role in funding the Free Radio and Television of the Thousand Hills (RTLM), a radio station directly involved in the massacre of Tutsi in Rwanda, widely recognized as genocide by the international community.

UN Tribunal Deems Kabuga Unfit for Conviction

However, the UN court responsible for convicting those involved in the genocide ruled Kabuga unfit for conviction due to his extensive dementia. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) stated that Kabuga was no longer capable of meaningfully participating in his trial, thereby violating his fundamental rights.

Disappointment and Doubts Surround the Ruling

The ruling has left survivors and genocide specialists disappointed, particularly due to the distinct brutality of the Rwandan Genocide. It also raises doubts about the ability of international courts or tribunals to effectively replace local judiciary systems. Tribunals are established to ensure impartiality and sufficient capacity in addressing crimes of war and genocide, preventing situations where local judiciaries may be questioned.

Implications for Trust in Tribunals and Local Authorities

Decisions like this ruling by the IRMCT could erode trust in the ability of tribunals to deliver necessary convictions, potentially leading to local authorities taking matters into their own hands. For instance, Ukrainian authorities have requested the establishment of a tribunal to address war crimes committed by Russia following the invasion in February 2022. Lack of trust in tribunals may result in local authorities resorting to alternative approaches, such as trying perpetrators in absentia, which raises concerns within the international law community.

The Rwandan Genocide and Its Historical Background

The Rwandan Genocide occurred between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. The conflict led to the killing of an estimated 500,000 to 662,000 Tutsi, as well as moderate Hutu and Twa, by Hutu militias. Kabuga’s involvement in funding the RTLM radio station, which actively promoted violence against Tutsi, played a significant role in the genocide.

The origins of the conflict are rooted in colonialism, with Belgium administering Rwanda as a mandate of the League of Nations after World War I. The colonial rulers favored the Tutsi minority and exacerbated social disparities between the Tutsi and the Hutu majority. The discontent among the Hutu led to revenge and violence during the genocide.

The tragic events in Rwanda highlight the importance of international courts in providing fair trials and justice, offering a sense of healing for affected societies and delivering accountability for survivors of such heinous crimes.

SOURCE: Ref – By Una Hajdari  

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