Rwanda Asks Bagambiki to Turn Himself In

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Rwandan government has asked Emmanuel Bagambiki, the former Prefect of Cyangugu, to turn himself in to Rwandan authorities to stand trial on rape charges. Bagambiki was recently acquitted by the ICTR of genocide and crimes against humanity, but is still in the care of the Tribunal because he has been unable to find a country willing to take him.

Rwanda’s insistence on trying Bagambiki illustrates one of the major problems with Article 9 of the ICTR’s Statute, which provides that “no person shall be tried before a national court for acts constituting serious violations of international humanitarian law under the present Statute, for which he or she has already been tried by the International Tribunal for Rwanda.” Rwanda is absolutely correct that the rape charges do not violate Article 9, because they were not part of the ICTR trial. But that doesn’t mean it would be fair for Rwanda to try Bagambiki on those charges, given that — as I noted here — the ICTR specifically found that Bagambiki neither directly participated in the Cyangugu massacres nor was liable for the crimes committed by his subordinates therein under the doctrine of command responsibility. To convict Bagambiki of rape, a Rwandan court would have to ignore those findings, which were reached unanimously by both the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber. Such a result would certainly be legal — but it would also, in my view, be fundamentally unjust.

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