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How Far Has the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Really Come since Akayesu in the Prosecution and Investigation of Sexual Offences Committed against Women? An Analysis of Ndindiliyimana et al.

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During the first trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that of Jean-Paul Akayesu, it became evident that many Tutsi and moderate Hutu women had been raped, that “rape was the rule and its absence was the exception”. 1 Although, initially, not a single charge of sexual violence was proffered against Akayesu, presiding Judge Navanethem Pillay interrupted the proceedings, allowing ICTR prosecutors to amend the indictment and include counts of rape and sexual violence. Akayesu subsequently became the first case to recognise the concept of genocidal rape. However, post-Akayesu, comparatively few defendants appearing before the ICTR have been convicted of sexual violence. An analysis of the recent case of Ndindiliyimana et al 2 reveals that major shortcomings beset the investigation and prosecution procedures, so that crimes of sexual violence go unpunished, although research suggests that adequate legislation is in place at the ICTR to prosecute rape and sexual violence successfully.

Affiliations: 1: University of York, UK


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