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Bradford School of Law international legal expert gives talk on Rwandan genocide prosecution


A public seminar on the legal issues and framework for prosecution following the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s was the subject of a well-attended public seminar by a University of Bradford School of Law lecturer this week.

International law expert Helen Trouille talked about the horrendous genocide in the relatively small, landlocked African nation, in which nearly one million people lost their lives - approximately one eighth of the national population.

The victims of the genocide were essentially members of the Tutsi ethnic group, massacred by the more numerous Hutus, although moderate Hutus were not spared the fate of the Tutsis with whom they sympathised.

Mrs Trouille said: "In the years since the genocide, a number of different fora have been used to try the perpetrators of the genocide: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, instituted by the UN in the months following the genocide, the gacaca courts, local village courts which tried those having played a minor role in the violence, the reconstructed Rwandan national courts, and the courts of other states under the principle of universal jurisdiction."

The seminar looked at the first trial in France of a Rwandan genocide suspect, Pascal Simbikangwa, and the legislation which made it possible.

It considered the challenges of applying national legal frameworks to international crimes, highlights the delay to justice these can cause (20 years in the case of the Rwandan genocide) and the difficulty of finding a forum to try international suspects, at the same time respecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Mrs Trouille said: "This issue is of particular relevance today in the UK as well as in France, following Westminster Magistrates’ Court’s decision in December 2015 not to extradite five genocide suspects to Rwanda.

"Could London have jurisdiction for a similar unprecedented trial in the near future?"

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Pictured above: University of Bradford School of Law lecturer Helen Trouille giving her seminar on the Rwanda genocide and prosecution of its perpetrators‌

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