Justice for victims of the Rwandan genocide?

Posted on 23 October 2013

York Law School specialist publishes study on the efficacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Helen Trouille has recently published an article in the International Criminal Law Review examining a recent judgement of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The purpose of the study was to ascertain how much progress has been made in the successful prosecution of sexual offences committed against women during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, since the first cases heard in the late 1990s.

Although there have been some significant developments at key points in the history of the ICTR, even at the end of its mandate, as it hands over its functions to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, sexual violence charges are still regularly dropped or fail. Cases such as Ndindiliyimana et al provide concrete examples of barriers to successful convictions: indictments inaccurately and imprecisely drafted; insufficient time, care and expertise given to obtaining detailed wit­ness statements; inconsistencies between witness statements and live testi­mony in court; unavailability of eyewitnesses and corroborative accounts. There is even evidence of a correlation between numbers of female prosecutors and judges and successful convictions. Poor conviction rates for charges of rape and sexual violence create a general impression that sexual violence crimes are still taking second place to other ‘more serious’ offences. Helen is now working on the role which the provision of interpretation between Kinyarwanda, French and English during investigations and at Court has played in successful or failed prosecutions. 

Helen Trouille, "How far has the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda really come since Akayesu in the Prosecution and Investigation of Sexual Offences committed against Women? An Analysis of  Ndindiliymana et al.’ (2013) International Criminal Law Review  13 (4), 747–788