The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today referred the case of Jean Uwinkindi to the Republic of Rwanda to be tried in the Rwandan national court system under Rule 11 bis, marking the first time in the Tribunal’s history it has done so.
A specially designated Referral Chamber composed of Judges Florence Rita Arrey, Presiding, Emile Francis Short and Robert Fremr decided upon assessment of the submissions of the Defence and amici curiae (including the Government of Rwanda, Human Rights Watch, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, and the Kigali Bar Association) that it was satisfied that the Government of Rwanda was prepared to receive its first referral from the ICTR.
While previous Referral Chambers were not inclined to grant similar applications that had been placed before them, this Chamber was convinced based on the evidence that Rwanda possesses the ability to accept and prosecute Uwinkindi’s case. The Chamber expressed its solemn hope that the Republic of Rwanda would actualize in practice the commitments it made in its filings about its good faith, capacity and willingness to enforce the highest standards of international justice.
In reaching its decision, the Chamber noted that Rwanda had made material changes in its laws and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by the ICTR adhering to internationally recognised fair trial standards enshrined in the ICTR Statute and other human rights instruments. In particular, the Chamber found that the issues which concerned previous Referral Chambers, namely the availability of witnesses and their protection, had been addressed to some degree in the intervening period.
The Referral Chamber also requested that the Registrar appoint the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to monitor Uwinkindi’s trial in Rwanda and determined that the ACHPR would bring to the attention of the ICTR President any potential issues that may arise throughout the course of the proceedings. The Chamber emphasised its authority under Rule 11 bis to revoke the case from Rwanda as a last resort if necessary.
Uwinkindi was born in 1951 in Rutsiro commune, Kibuye prefecture, Rwanda. He was a former Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Kayenzi, located at Nyamata sector, Kanzenze commune, Kigali-Rural prefecture. He is accused of being responsible for attacks against Tutsi at Kayenzi Church, at Biyimana and Rwankeri cellules, and in Cyugaro’s swamps.
His indictment included counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity. He was arrested in Uganda on 30 June 2010 and transferred to the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania on 2 July 2010.