The Government of Rwanda yesterday welcomed the decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to sentence Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister for Family and Women Affairs and two other co-accused to life imprisonment for Genocide crimes.
Reacting to the decision, the Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said that the sentences handed to Nyiramasuhuko, her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, and Elie Ndayambaje, the former Bourgmestre of Muganza are a relief to Genocide survivors who have for long waited for justice.
“We welcome the sentence. It is a relief to survivors who have waited to long for this to happen,” Ngoga said.
The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) said that sentencing the “Butare clique” of Nyiramasuhuko, Ntahobari, Joseph Kanyabashi, Elie Ndayambaje, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo is a milestone because these were solely responsible for planning and executing the genocide in Butare.
“Nyiramasuhuko is the first woman to be sentenced on genocide crimes, especially on grounds that she incited her son to rape Tutsi women, among other things, it is the first time mother and son have been convicted at the same time,” said Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of CNLG.
“She used her government position and influenced other government officials to plan and execute the Genocide, carrying out inhuman acts such as raping, maiming and killing Tutsi women in Butare, in the most violent of ways”.
He added that despite the fact that the case took long and cost millions of dollars, the most important thing is that justice was finally delivered.
Mucyo called on countries which still harbour Genocide suspects to arrest and hand them over to ICTR or Rwanda so that justice can be fully administered.
In an interview with The New Times, Rose Burizihiza, 40 one of the victims of Nyiramasuhuko’s acts, said that she was relieved that finally justice has been delivered.
“I am really happy. At first I wasn’t hopeful that ICTR would finally sentence this woman, but having decided to do so today, I feel justice has finally taken its course,” she said.
“It is a very important step for us, especially survivors. For a woman like Nyiramasuhuko to do what she did to us fellow women, is something that deserves the highest punishment”
She noted that Nyiramasuhuko as a woman who gave orders, even encouraged her son to rape Tutsi women, deserved the sentence she received.
“I feel healed and relieved especially because the ICTR never considered the cases of people who were raped very important. Today, I feel the pain I have been having on my heart has gone away,” said Burizihiza.
Burizihiza who was 23 at the time of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a victim of rape and torture at the orders of Nyiramasuhuko.
She testified in the ICTR against her and her son.