International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Rules 105 and 106 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure are replicated in the Rules of Procedure for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As such, the analysis that REDRESS has prepared relating to these articles is equally applicable to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Applicable to this analysis and the role of domestic courts in handling claims for compensation, in the case of Rwanda, domestic laws already recognized the right to reparation, and victims have claimed and have been awarded vast amounts in damages as part of the criminal prosecutions which have proceeded pursuant to the Organic Law on the Organization of Prosecutions for Offences constituting the Crime of Genocide or Crimes against Humanity committed since October 1, 1990 (1). Lack of funds has inhibited enforcement (2). The Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, criticized these inadequacies and indicated her desire to see things change (3). Judge Pillay, President of the ICTR, expressed the need to develop appropriate mechanisms for reparations at the ICTR (4), as did Judge Jorda, President of the ICTY (5). In the end, neither President wanted to be given the mandate for processing and ascertaining awards for reparation, as it was viewed that these activities might well prevent the tribunals from carrying out their main objective (6).

  1. Organic Law No. 08/96 of August 30,1996. According to private sources in Rwanda, as at 31 December 2001, out of the trials of 6,454 individuals before the specialized chambers, more that 36 billion Rwandan franc had been awarded in reparations proceedings, though there had been no enforcement.
  2. See International Crisis Group. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Justice Delayed. 7 June 2001. Africa Report No. 30. It is available on the internet at: The Report cites Assistant Public Prosecutor Emmanuel Rakangira as follows: "Currently there are billions of Rwandan Franc in the form of damages (awarded by national courts). No, its practically impossible." The Report continues by stating that "In the four years since trials started in Rwanda, the amounts were of course very generous on paper. Close to US 100 million have been awarded after only some 4,000 people have been tried. In reality, however, not a single cent has been paid out because the defendants are indigent."
  3. "I'd go even further by saying that whenever a financial investigation takes place as part of a general investigation and we manage to freeze a defendant's money, the judges ought to decide what happens to that money. For me, there is only one proper response: give it to the victims. Of course, the pain does not go away. But if you are a victim and receive financial support, especially in the difficult conditions that we know about in Rwanda, then that's already a real bonus. According to the law governing international tribunals, all compensation claims must be made to the national legal system, which is the only body apt to judge. But just think of a civil action taken in a country like Rwanda or anywhere else: it takes a long time and costs a lot of money. Changing things on this front is a tricky business, since it requires changing the legal statutes, which means that the decision is down to the Security Council. That said, I have to say that there is a loophole in the law which might allow us to make some headway on the question. There is a rule which states that it is up to the judges to rule "on sentences and sanctions". I'm going to use the concept of sanctions to argue that sentences means prison and sanctions is the confiscation of money that has been sequestered. Let's say I'm making an interpretation. We're not quite there yet, but I've opened up the debate at least." Compensating victims with guilty money. Interview with Carla del Ponte, the Hague, June 9, 2000. Copyright Diplomatie Judiciaire.
  4. See Letter of 14 December 2000 of the UN Secretary General, addressed to the President of the Security Council, S/2000/1198. Interestingly, Judge Pillay made note of Article 75 of the ICC Statute but indicated that this may not be the best way forward for the Tribunal. While it was recognised that the practices of the Tribunal would need to be modified to ensure that victims have access to reparations, a provision such as Article 75 may cloud the activities of the Tribunal and impede its principle mandate - bringing those accused of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to justice. It would be practically impossible for the ICTR to develop the capacity to undertake a reparations programme within its doors - this would require new rules and procedures, which would be difficult and time-consuming to implement. Other options were suggested in lieu, such as the establishment of a trust fund for victims, to be run by the United Nations or another governmental body, or the establishment of a limited role for proceedings for compensation to be dealt with by the Tribunal, applicable to those victims testifying before the Tribunal.
  5. S/2000/1063.
  6. Ibid.

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