Last Updated: Friday, 28 November 2014, 15:42 GMT

Rwanda: Whether people who give testimony at the trials and hearings of those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity are being harassed, intimidated and threatened

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1999
Citation / Document Symbol RWA30932.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Rwanda: Whether people who give testimony at the trials and hearings of those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity are being harassed, intimidated and threatened, 1 January 1999, RWA30932.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac5950.html [accessed 29 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

The first fourteen paragraphs of report entitled Witness Protection, Gender and the ICTR prepared by Connie Walsh as a result of investigations in Rwanda in June and July 1997 state the following :

1. At least one witness was killed after having testified before the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania. The victim was a Hutu woman who had testified against Jean-Paul Akayesu. She was killed on January 5, 1997, along with her husband, four of their own children and three other children who were in the house at the time of the attack.

2. In September 1996, the ICTR estimated that 10 individuals who had agreed to testify had been killed before they had the chance.

3. Numerous other genocide survivors scheduled to testify before the ICTR were killed in Rwanda before making it to Arusha. On December 23, 1996, Emmanuel Rudasingwa and 10 other persons were killed and one seriously injured in Kazirabondi cellule, Karangara secteur, Taba commune, Gitarama prefecture.  Rudasingwa, the principal victim, had given testimony to investigators of the ICTR and was scheduled to testify in Arusha in January 1997.

4. There is strong reason to believe his death was connected to his perceived contact with ICTR staff. Tribunal investigators had visited Rudasingwa at his store numerous times in marked United Nations vehicles, making him an easy target.  Godelieve Mukasarasi, the widow of Rudasingwa, said, "No one could miss them [ICTR investigators]. Everyone knew Emmanuel was talking because they saw such a huge car outside the door."  She also said that her husband had told ICTR investigators that he and his wife felt insecure and had asked the investigators for protection. The ICTR investigators told him to telephone them if he was attacked, even though the nearest telephone was 20 miles from their home.  Mukasarasi attributed the attack to Hutus, who had participated in the genocide, and had recently returned from exile in Tanzania and Zaire.

5. Others who have testified have suffered harassment and intimidation after returning to Rwanda. One woman, after having testified, was forced to flee her home in fear of her life. In an interview she said, "When I returned from [testifying in] Arusha, everyone knew I had testified. Everyone in my neighborhood had nicknamed me, 'Mrs. Arusha.' Shortly after returning from Arusha, I was chased from the house I had been renting in Kigali. The landlord asked me to leave because he knew I had testified in Arusha. At night, people would come and throw stones at my house. I was very scared." 

6. 'Mrs. Arusha' sought the assistance of a survivors' association, who in turn helped her contact the Tribunal staff in Kigali. She was relocated but continues to live in fear: "I told the ICTR staff in Kigali about the problems I had upon return from Arusha. I also told them I was chased from the house I had been renting. They gave me $100 (30,000 Rwandan francs) and told me they would find me a job. I used the money to rent another place in a different part of Kigali where a soldier had told me it was safe. I was able to pay for three months' rent with the money they had given me. The job they had found me was a painting job. It would have involved a lot of climbing. The transportation costs to get to the place where I was supposed to work would have eaten up most of my pay. Because of these reasons I never took the job. I have no source of income."

7. "After three months had passed, I was unable to continue paying rent for the house I had moved into. I had to leave. Now I am staying in an unfinished house in another part of Kigali. The house is in very poor condition and sometimes water comes in the house ... I told the ICTR staff of the continued security concerns that I have but nothing was done ... Since I have come back from testifying in Arusha, life has been particularly hard. I was chased from the house I had been renting. Because I had to move, I was unable to continue to run the small shop I had. I used to be able to make a living but this is no longer possible. I cannot survive. I feel like the ICTR is just bringing us problems for nothing." 

8. In June 1996 in the Taba commune, a woman received death threats warning her that she would be killed if she testified in Arusha before the ICTR. Earlier, this woman had given information to the ICTR investigators regarding Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Bourgmestre of Taba. In addition, her family members, also genocide survivors, were intimidated and were no longer willing to testify.

9. According to a lawyer working at a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Kenya, a Rwandese refugee requested assistance and help because of continued harassment and threats she was receiving due to her cooperation with the ICTR. She told the lawyer that she had been raped during the genocide and that she was being terrorized by threats to rape her and her daughter. She came to the NGO out of desperation as she had no where else to turn. This NGO did not have the resources to provide the assistance needed.

10. The fact that there have been consistent and increasing attacks on genocide survivors in general heightens the danger for those who cooperate with or dare to testify before the ICTR.

11. Both the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) and African Rights have extensively documented the killing and intimidation of genocide survivors and persons associated with them (such as family members). During January and February 1997, HRFOR reported that 62 genocide survivors and persons associated with them were killed. From January to December 1996, they reported that 227 genocide survivors and persons associated with them were murdered, 56 individuals were injured, and seven went missing.  In the majority of these cases ex-FAR, Interahamwe or other insurgents opposed to the Government of Rwanda were responsible for the attacks. 

12. Of particular concern is the circulation of a list of adult genocide survivors in the Taba commune. In August 1996, at least three genocide survivors received letters with death threats, attributed to the Interahamwe from the Taba commune.  One of those letters allegedly contained a list of all adult genocide survivors living in the secteur.

13. In numerous instances genocide survivors, some 2,000 in Gitarama and Kibuye prefectures, have relocated for heightened security, moving from isolated areas to more central locations, often near communal offices and/or RPA positions.

14. The continuing flow of returning refugees raises concerns of increasing insecurity within the country. In Ruhengeri prefecture, the degenerating human rights situation is of particular concern. Despite a United Nations Security Council-imposed embargo on arms trafficking in the region, there has been an increase in attacks by armed militia groups operating in the prefecture. Resulting military operations carried out by the RPA have killed at least 2,022 persons during May and June in the Ruhengeri prefecture. Included in the violent activities carried out by armed militia were attacks on two communal offices, resulting in the release of all detainees in these two communal detention centers. 

In addition, an Amnesty International report entitled International Tribunal for Rwanda: Achievements and Shortcomings dated 30 April 1998 states that

The witness protection scheme of the Tribunal is weak and lacking in relevant experience. It may be putting witnesses at risk and putting justice in jeopardy. No African or other state has agreed to allow witnesses who cannot return safely to Rwanda to be relocated to their country and protected.

For more detailed information on the shortcomings of the International

Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with regards to witness protection, please consult pages 18 to 21 of the Amnesty International's April 1998 report entitled International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Trials and Tribulations, which is available in Regional Documentation Centres.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Amnesty International. 30 April 1998. International Tribunal for Rwanda: Achievements and Shortcomings. (AI Index: IOR 40/13/98). London: Amnesty International International Secretariat (News Release). [Internet]. [Consulted: 19 Jan. 1999].

Walsh, Connie. Witness Protection, Gender and the ICTR. A report prepared as a result of investigations in Rwanda in June and July 1997 for the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), International Women's Law Clinic (IWHR) and MADRE. [Internet]. [Consulted : 20 Jan. 1999]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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