EDITORIAL: ICTR closes its doors but still has unfinished business

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) this week celebrated 20 years since its establishment by the UN Security Council.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) this week celebrated 20 years since its establishment by the UN Security Council.

From the onset, the $100 million-per year tribunal was beset by problems: incompetence, lack of understanding of the Rwandan context and a large number of uneducated witnesses who could not grapple with the intricacies of foxy defense lawyers and a sophisticated judicial system.

One of the few positive outcomes of the tribunal that is not contested is that the issue of sexual violence during conflict was recognized as a tool of mass destruction- a war crime. The other achievements however nefarious, was the fact that the Genocide against the Tutsi came out of oblivion.

Previous genocide that occurred in the country since the late ‘50s had been swept under the rug, making impunity in Rwanda take root, as the leaders of the time were confident that no one would lift a finger.

One group the ICTR will find difficult to appease are Genocide survivors who felt cheated that justice was not truly served to their satisfaction. They regarded the tribunal as a gravy train for a few who were eking out a living over the dead bones of their relatives, yet little was done to address the issue of compensation.

That is an issue that lies close to the heart of many survivors and it is one that the international community should look back with shame and dashed hopes.

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