Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has achieved considerable success in bringing to justice those most responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. However, the ICTR's Prosecutor has failed to indict a single member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group that now governs Rwanda, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 1994 as a result of state noncooperation. Instead, the Prosecutor allowed Rwanda to conduct a sham trial into a notorious massacre involving thirteen clergy that his office had investigated. This Article takes a close look at this case and is based on the authors' own investigation of the crime and their direct observations during the trial. It also draws on the authors' experience at the ICTR. The Article analyzes the consequences of impunity for these crimes both inside Rwanda and in the international arena and provides a comparative study with other post-conflict countries which have experienced ad hoc criminal tribunals. The Article argues that the Prosecutor's failure to prosecute the RPF has negative consequences for Rwanda, the ICTR, and international justice. First, it leaves a legacy of "victor's justice" and impunity that may have already encouraged RPF crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Second, it has contributed to an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the events of 1994, thus opening the door to revisionism on both sides. Third, it has passed up a further opportunity to strengthen the Rwandan judicial system. Finally, it undermines the Tribunal's legacy and sets a bad precedent for international justice.