Charles Twagira

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 14.02.2018 )
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facts

Charles Twagira was director of the hospital of Kibuye during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

He was reportedly the commander of the Kibuye Hutu militia. He is accused of having order the murder of Tutsis, in particular in the Kibuye hospital. He allegedly used his position as head of the hospital to allow the local Hutu militia to kill the Tutsis who were staying in the hospital.

In 1994, he fled to Zaire (actual Democratic Republic of Congo). Then, he settled in Benin until 2006. The same year, he arrived in France to settle with his wife. He was naturalized as a French citizen.

He worked as a doctor in several hospitals in France (Rouen, Vire) until 2018, when he was suspended.

legal procedure

In 2009, Charles Twagira was sentenced in absentia to life sentence by a tribunal in Kibuye.

On 30 November 2009, the “Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda” (CPCR) lodged a compaint against Charles Twagira. He is accused of genocide, complicity of genocide and crime against humanity.

Charles Twagira was arrested and indicted on 20 March 2014. On 22 May 2015, he was released under judicial supervision.

The investigation should soon by completed and, a decision on whether to prosecute him or not should follow.

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.