A judge at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (the Mechanism) on Monday, February 7, ruled in favour of a return to Tanzania of eight Rwandans who had been relocated to Niger late 2021. In his ruling, Judge Joseph E. Chiondo Masanche said that the men – who include convicts who completed their sentences and those who were acquitted by the UN court – will return to Arusha on a temporary basis until their transfer to another state. Some of the former detainees were convicted by the UN court for masterminding the Genocide against the Tutsi, while others were acquitted of the same charges by the court. The judge asked the Government of Niger to provide all necessary assistance in order to execute the terms of his decision, and instructed the mechanism’s Registrar to “file a submission within seven days to inform me of the actions taken in the execution of this Decision.” The ruling comes after, among others, the government of Niger, on December 27, 2021, ordered the men to leave the West African country where they had arrived on December 5. The eight men – Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, Protais Zigiranyirazo, Andre Ntagerura, Alphonse Nteziryayo, Prosper Mugiraneza, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Tharcisse Muvunyi, and Innocent Sagahutu – are considered to be among the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. They are among the nine individuals who had been acquitted or released from custody by the ICTR or the Mechanism and were in the Mechanisms care at the Arusha branch for years, after they failed to get a country to take them in. Many countries, including those where their families live and those from where they were arrested, have denied them residence owing to their role in the Genocide. Rwanda has always maintained that they can return to their country. On December 27, 2021, the authorities of Niger issued an order requiring, for diplomatic reasons, that the eight leave the territory of Niger within seven days of notification of the expulsion order. A court filing indicated that Niger’s decision was that the presence of these men on its territory constituted a threat to public order and national security. Earlier, last December, while addressing the UN Security Council in New York, Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwanda’s outgoing Permanent Representative to the United Nations, requested the Mechanism to clarify circumstances under which the eight Rwandans who were acquitted or convicts who completed their sentences at the UN Court were transferred to Niger. Rwanda, she noted, was not informed by either the Mechanism or the host country about the transfer of the Rwandan nationals. “We expect Niger to exercise its responsibility to ensure that none of the persons use their territory for subversive activities that have contributed to the insecurity and instability of the Great Lakes Region for the past decades,” she said during a session by the Security Council. She said that there was evidence that some of the eight men were engaging in subversive activities after their acquittal by the now defunct ICTR.