Jean Léonard Teganya

25.04.2016 ( Last modified: 23.07.2019 )
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Facts

During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which cost more than 800.000 lives, Teganya was a medical student at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. He was also a member of the Hutu-dominated ruling MRND party that allegedly incited the genocide.

When the genocide began, Teganya allegedly led teams of soldiers and Interahamwe to locate Tutsi patients and those Tutsis hiding around the hospital. Once discovered, the Tusis were allegedly killed behind the maternity yard of the hospital.

Teganya is also suspected of participating in the murders of seven Tutsis as well as the rape of five Tutsi women.

In mid-July 1994, Teganya fled Rwanda and travelled to Canada where he applied for asylum in 1999. It was twice determined by the Canadian authorities that Teganya was not entitled to asylum because of his alleged involvement in atrocities committed during the Rwandan genocide.

Before he could have been deported, Teganya slipped out of Canada and came to the United States, where he applied for asylum in 2014.

Legal Procedure

In 2014, in his asylum request, Teganya committed an immigration fraud by not mentioning his MRND membership or his activities during the genocide.

In April 2019, Teganya was convicted of two counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury in connection with his application for immigration benefits in the United States. Based on the evidence presented at the trial, Teganya “committed horrendous crimes during the Rwandan genocide and then sought to deceive US immigration authorities about his past,” Lelling said.

In July 2019, Teganya was sentenced by a U.S Boston District court judge for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with his application for immigration benefits in the United States to 97 months in prison.

Teganya could be deported once he completes his 97-month prison sentence.

Context

1994, the country was torn apart by a bloody genocide, during which extremist Hutus 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 largely outnumbered the genocidaires and the international community notoriously failed to respond otherwise at the relevant period.

 

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. The Resolution established the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Tribunal’s function was to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between 1 January and 31 December 1994 in the territory of Rwanda, by Rwandan citizens and those committed in neighbouring states. During its existence, 93 persons have been indicted by the ICTR, the Tribunal was officially closed in 2015.

Some proceedings are however still ongoing before the so-called International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (or “the Mechanism”). The Mechanism was established by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010) and took over the remaining functions of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Mechanism has been functioning since 1 July 2012 in parallel with the Tribunals and nowadays as an exclusive institution. It gradually took over the functions of the ICTR and 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 protection of witnesses.

 

THE GACACA COURTS

In 1998, discussions began under the direction of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. Paul Kagame, 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 the 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.