Rwanda’s genocide: NPWJ welcomes arrest of Félicien Kabuga as an important step in the fight against impunity

19 May, 2020 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 19 May 2020

No Peace Without Justice welcomes the arrest of Félicien Kabuga by the French authorities in a suburb of Paris as a major step towards justice for hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s genocide victims and survivors. In 1998, Kabuga was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for five counts of genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity, committed in Rwanda between 6 April and 17 July 1994.

For more than two decades, one the alleged masterminds and chief financier of the ethnic Hutu militias who slaughtered, over a period of just 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people, has constantly managed to escape justice, reportedly living under a false identity, from Kenya to the DRC and from Germany to France, via Belgium. His long-overdue arrest sends a powerful reminder that, even if justice may take its time, those who are accused to have committed the most serious crimes under international law can be brought to account, provided solid joint investigation efforts and consistent State cooperation and collaboration with the relevant international justice mechanisms.

Following completion of appropriate procedures under French law, Mr Kabuga is expected to be transferred to the custody of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) at The Hague, which is handling outstanding cases after the ICTR closed in 2015. In past cases, the government of Rwanda sought the transfer of suspects from the ICTR and the IRMCT for prosecution in Rwanda. It is unclear whether Rwandan authorities will similarly request Mr Kabuga’s transfer to Rwanda. Wherever Kabuga will stand trial, we look forward to seeing him prosecuted promptly to afford survivors with a measure of justice and also urge relevant authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for helping him to evade arrest for over twenty years.

Rwanda suffered greatly during those 100 days a quarter of a century ago and it suffered during the months and years that followed. Rwanda is still suffering today at the memory of the genocide, but it is pulling through its dark days and beginning to embrace a brighter future. Part of that journey from despair towards light was facilitated by recognising the rights of victims to redress, to truth and to remembrance and by holding perpetrators of atrocities to account, both at the international level through the ICTR and at the national level through a range of different efforts. The arrest of Félicien Kabuga reminds us the following lesson: justice may seem difficult or even impossible to achieve, but it is essential for a country to move from a time of conflict or political unrest to a time of peace.

For further information, contact Alison Smith, Director Of International Justice, on or Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, on org.