Yvonne Ntacyobatabara Basebya

23.04.2016 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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Yvonne Ntacyobatabara Basebya was born in 1947 in Rwanda. She married Augustin Basebya with whom she had six children. The latter became a member of Parliament during the war in the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NMRD). Yvonne Basebya worked for the government of Juvénal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda before the genocide.

Basebya was a member of the Hutu extremist party, the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). At at the height of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Basebya has compiled a list of Tutsis to be killed in Gikondo, the neighbourhood where she resided in the capital Kigali. She allegedly was the leader of a group of young men who chased the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. She was also suspected of having been involved in the murder of a refugee, in a house opposite to hers.

Basebya moved with her family in the Netherlands in 1998. They obtained Dutch nationality in 2004.

In 2007, a Gacaca Community Court of Kigali tried her in absentia and sentenced her to life imprisonment for acts she was charged. She was arrested in June 2010 in Reuver, The Netherlands and is currently awaiting trial.

legal procedure

In 2007, a Gacaca Community Court of Kigali tried her in absentia and sentenced her to life imprisonment for acts she was charged. She was arrested in June 2010 in Reuver, The Netherlands and is currently awaiting trial.

Yvonne Basebya appears on a list provided by the Rwandan Patriotic Front to the Dutch authorities, along with fifteen other people suspected of involvement in genocide.

According to the indictment, Yvonne Basebya is accused of:

1. co-perpetration or instigation of genocide, attempted genocide and murder
2. Conspiracy to commit genocide
3. War crimes
4. Incitement

She denied all the facts being alleged against her.

The Dutch police moved to Kigali, in the district of Gikondo, to interview witnesses. More than 70 witnesses have been heard in Rwanda, Canada, USA, Switzerland,
Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Zambia and Kenya.

On 18 June 2012, the Court “paused” Basebya’s pre-trial detention on the basis that her preventative imprisonment had been overly extended.

Basebya’s trial started on 22 October 2012.

On 1 March 2013, Basebya has been sentenced to six years and eight months in jail for inciting genocide in Rwanda. According Judge Rene Elkerbout, “she embraced and propagated this extreme racist ideology and used her influence to contribute to an atmosphere of violence [and] repeatedly committed the crime of publicly calling for genocide”. Nevertheless, she was acquitted of the other charges.


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.


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.


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.