Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Rwanda1 July 2002

The International Criminal Court starts work

image 189 x 175 (GIF) As the world’s attention focuses on the brand-new International Criminal Court (ICC), the Damocles Network and Reporters Without Borders are in Rwanda to monitor the setting-up of gacacas (local traditional courts) and highlight cases of journalists soon to appear before them.

The two organisations fully support the establishment of the ICC, but point out that local and traditional courts also have a role in national reconciliation. "Unearthing the truth, identifying the victim, determining who took part and trying those responsible" are the official aims of the gacacas. The Damocles Network and Reporters Without Borders are in Rwanda to help this work along and see that impunity is brought to an end there.

The delegation, consisting of a journalist and a judge, arrived in Kigali on 1 July and will meet Rwandan officials, diplomats, NGO representatives and imprisoned journalists.

More than 120,000 people are in jail in Rwanda, including 30 journalists accused of having taken part in the 1994 genocide. However, both organisations consider that at least two of the journalists (Dominique Makeli and Tatiana Mukakibibi) are being held simply because they did their job of informing the public. Through these two symbolic cases, the two organisations want to help the inyangamugayo (the gacaca judges) to establish the truth in a fair and speedy trial.

The interest of the Damocles Network and Reporters Without Borders in national traditional justice, including the gacacas, comes at a time of new tension between Rwandan authorities and officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as recent court decisions in Belgium have challenged several assumptions of international criminal law. More than ever, national courts have a leading part to play in the fight against impunity.

In this country
30 April - Rwanda
Government urged to lift ban on BBC’s local broadcasts
16 October - Rwanda
Radio reporter freed after being held for 14 years on genocide charge
17 July - Rwanda
Government deports independent weekly’s deputy managing editor
6 May - Rwanda
Concern about increasing contempt shown by government for certain journalists
21 January - Rwanda
Newspaper editor freed after she completes one-year prison sentence

in the annual report
Rwanda - Annual Report 2008
Rwanda - Annual Report 2007
Rwanda - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists