Rwanda/France: FIDH and LDH publish an analytical report on the Pascal Simbikangwa trial

Paris, 3 February 2015 – Today FIDH and LDH publish an analytical report of the highly symbolic trial of Pascal Simbikangwa. Simbikangwa is the first person convicted by a French Criminal court (the Paris Cour d’assises) for his role in the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. The trial proceedings relating to the case were conducted before the Paris Criminal Court between 4 February and 14 March, 2014. Pascal Simbikangwa appealed the sentence; the trial in appeal will take place in 2015.

By holding this trial, the French judiciary has shown that, thanks to extraterritorial jurisdiction, France can judge persons accused of heinous international crimes, even if they have been committed 20 years ago and thousands of kilometers away from France, said Patrick Baudouin, Lawyer and Honorary President of FIDH.

The trial is the first one on the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda to be held in France. It is also the first that is based on extraterritorial jurisdiction to have been attended by the suspect. In earlier cases, the decisions, using universal jurisdiction for cases involving acts of torture perpetrated in Mauritania and in Tunisia, were pronounced at trials held in absentia since the defendants had fled. This is also the first case to be referred to the Paris Criminal Court by the Special unit created by the tribunal in January 2012 to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

This report traces the main stages of the legal proceedings that led to the Simbikangwa trial, and describes the main lessons drawn from six weeks of hearings before the Paris Criminal Court.

The first large scale test of the capacity of France’s newly-created Special unit to prosecute perpetrators of the most heinous crimes was carried out in a satisfactory manner said Michel Tubiana, Lawyer and Honorary President of LDH.

This trial, for which the appeal is expected to be brought before the Court of Appeals in 2015, is the first of a series of trials for acts committed during the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda. FIDH and LDH will be civil parties in most of these cases.

Background

Read the analytical report of the trial of Pascal Simbikangwa

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