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5 Hum. Rts. Brief 1 (1997-1998)

handle is hein.journals/huribri5 and id is 1 raw text is: ,HUMAN RI6HTS
Center for Human Rights and Humanitaiian Law



Rwanda's Domestic Trials for Genocide and
Crimes Against Humanity
ly CarlaJ. Ferstman*

 wanda has embarked on the
challenge of bringing the per-
etrators of genocide to justice.
Legislation which organizes the pros-
ecution of genocide suspects and the
compensation of victims has been
enacted. Judges are being trained,
prosecutors prepare case files, new
suspects are arrested, and survivors
continue to fear repercussions.
Large scale violence in Rwanda
was brought on by a blend of
enforced ethnic intolerance, con-
structed hierarchies, social inequali-
ties, and material scarcity. For many
generations, common language, cul-
ture, and religion kept categoriza-
tions of Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa muta-
ble. Political construction of divisive
ethnic identities helped create the
environment which allowed for the
surge of human atrocity.
Background to the Genocide
After the April 6, 1994, downing
of the airplane carrying the Rwandan
and Burundian presidents, an esti-
mated one million Rwandans, mainly
Tutsis and Hutu political moderates,
were systematically murdered by Hutu
extremists in the span of a few
months. The entire governmental
See page 8 for latest
War Crimes Tribunal

apparatus, including the Presidential
Guard (Gendarmirie), the local police
force, and the civilian administration,
mobilized the population toward
active participation in the genocide.
Interahamwe militia, the youth unit
trained by the Presidential Guard, car-
ried out a significant number of the
murders, set up roadblocks, and dis-
tributed arms and killing lists to civil-
ians who were rewarded for their com-
plicity. Organizers encouraged their
communities to kill the Tutsi families
living amongst them. Broadcasts by
Radio Tivision Libre des Milles Collines
contributed to the genocidal frenzy by
furthering the campaign of hate. The
international community, despite des-
perate calls for assistance from world
leaders, proved unable or unwilling to
take measures to halt the genocide.
Although the International Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of
Genocide (ICPPG) obliges the con-
tracting parties to undertake to pre-
vent and punish genocide, the world
failed to take action to prevent the
atrocities which occurred in Rwanda.
Effect on the Rwandan Justice
The killings, lootings, and vandal-
ism virtually destroyed the justice sys-
tem. Most equipment was damaged,
leaving trained agencies involved in
the investigative or judicial process
inoperable. Even if the judicial sys-
tem in place before the war had
remained intact, it would have been
continued on next page

Volume: 5, Numabe~r I a Fall 1997
Conscientious Objection
in the Americas
by Raymondj Toney*
O n October 7, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights
heard arguments in the case of
Luis Gabriel Caldas Leon, who refused to
perform military service in the Colom-
bian Armed Forces for reasons of con-
science. The fundamental issue raised by
Cardas is whether conscientious objection
to military service is a protected manifes-
tation of Article 12 rights of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
Mr. Caldas completed his secondary
studies in 1993 and was then selected to
perform obligatory military service as
established by Law 48 of 1993 and Article
continued on page 18


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