Agnes Ntamabyariro

29.03.2015 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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facts

Agnes Ntamabyariro was born in 1937, from a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother.

She was a member of the temporary government of Rwanda during the genocide of 1994, and was minister of justice.

She is accused with two other magistrates of the Gitarama province for massacres perpetrated in the parish of Kabgayi, where thousand of Tutsis had sought refuge between April and June 1994.

Ntamabyariro is also accused of having planed and incited to genocide. According to the prosecution, she would have ordered, with Hategekimana’s complicity, the murder of the former prefect of Butare, Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, a Tutsi who was opposed to the genocide in his prefecture.

Moreover, she is said to have participated, on 8 April 1994, in the reunion of the crisis committee, at the Ecole militaire supérieure (Military Academy) chaired by Theoneste Bagosora, accused before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Among participants, there were General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and President Theodore Sindikubwabo.

According to a former member of the Liberal Party, Agnes Ntamabyariro, along with
Justin Mugenzi, a former Minister for Trade trialed by the ICTR (see “related cases”), would be “responsible of the fission of the Liberal Party, the opposition party until the end of 1993, and principal founder of the Hutu Power, instigator of the genocide of 1994”.

According to the UN, about 800’000 persons were killed among the Tutsi minority and the moderate Hutus during the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda.

Arrested under unclear circumstances in Zambia on 27 May 1997, at the age of 60, she was extradited to Rwanda where she has spent 10 years in custody before the opening of her trial.

legal procedure

Arrested under unclear circumstances in Zambia on 27 May 1997, at the age of 60, she was extradited to Rwanda where she has spent 10 years in custody before the opening of her trial.

Ntamabyariro is the only member of the government established during the genocide to have been tried by the jurisdictions of Rwanda. Fifteen ministers of this government were charged by the International criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In August 2006, Ntamabyariro came to testify before the ICTR for the defense of another former Minister of the Government established during the genocide. She unsuccessfully asked the ICTR to help her not to return to Rwanda.

Ntamabyariro’s trial started on 18 October 2006 before the High Court of the Republic, in Kigali, where she claimed her innocence. Between May and July 2008, the Court went to Nyanza, Gitarama, Kibuye and Byumba, to hear the different witnesses on the scenes of the crimes that are reproached to Ntamabyariro.

The indictment states “planification of genocide, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, reunions of planification and organization of the genocide of Nyanza and Kibuye, in her initial prefecture, campaigns of distribution of weapons, murder of Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, prefect of Butare at the beginning of the genocide, and of her husband’s godson”.

A life long imprisonment, the heaviest sentence foreseen by the criminal code of Rwanda, was required on 18 November 2008 by the High Court of the Republic in Kigali against the former Minister of Justice.

Ntamabyariro had contested the prosecution’s action for arrest in abduction, illegal custody, custody without arrest neither warrant nor arrest statement and torture in breach with international conventions. This claim was rejected on 8 September 2009.

The Nyarugenge Court of First Instance sentenced Ntamabyariro to life in prison on 19 January 2009. Ntamabyariro said she would appeal the condemnation.

Her co-accused, former Prosecutor’s substitute, Jean-Leonard Hategekimana, was acquitted.

The Nyarugenge Court of First Instance sentenced Ntamabyariro to life in prison on 19 January 2009.

On 21 February 2014, Ntamabyariro appealed for a reduction of sentence. Almost exactly a year after her appeal, the Rwanda’s High Court upheld her life sentence on 27 February 2015.

Her lawyer indicated that they may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

spotlight

Agnes Ntamabyariro, former Minister of Justice, is the unique member of the government established during the genocide to have been trialed by the jurisdictions of Rwanda.

Fourteen ministers of this government were charged and are detained by the International criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

context

Rwanda has been historically inhabited by three distinct social groups, known as Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Between April and July 1994 the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutu people targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was powerless against those committing the genocide, as the peacekeeping troops were outnumbered.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA (ICTR)

In hopes of facilitating the process of national reconciliation and to promote peace in the country, on 8 November 1994 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 955, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in Rwanda. Since its inception, 92 persons have been indicted in front of the ICTR. Some proceedings are however still ongoing.

The ICTR is primed to close down in 2015.

Regarding what will happen to the functions and activities that will outlive the ICTR, the UN Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”), in Resolution 1966 (2010), to take over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism, which has been functioning since 1 July 2012, has already taken over some of the ongoing functions of the ICTR, including the enforcement of sentences of those convicted and sentenced by the Tribunal, the tracking, arrest and prosecution of fugitives earmarked for trial at the Mechanism, and the care and protection of witnesses.

THE GACACA COURTS

In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda about the possible use of traditional courts to support the ordinary Rwandan judicial system and the ICTR. A commission was created to study this possibility, and its report provided the basis of the Organic Law of 26 January 2001, which created the Gacaca Courts.

These courts were in charge of trying the low and middle-level perpetrators of the genocide, apart from the “planners” who should have been tried before national courts. The Gacaca courts were composed of elected popular assemblies, made up of non-professional judges. The composition and functioning of such courts raised several concerns about the respect of fair trial guarantees.

According to Rwandan authorities, during their functioning, the Gacaca courts tried almost two million people. On 18 June 2012 Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced the official end of Gacaca courts’ activity.

Fact Sheet
Name: Agnes Ntamabyariro
Nationality: Rwanda
Context: Rwanda
Charges: Crimes against humanity,Genocide
Status: Sentenced
Judgement Place: Rwanda
Particulars: Sentenced to life in prison on 19 January 2009 by the Nyarugenge Court.