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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Press statement on the arrest of alleged genocidaire Félicien Kabuga

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) welcomes the arrest in France on 16 May 2020 of Félicien Kabuga, twenty-three years after his indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1997 on seven counts, including genocide.

The Commission recalls the African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP), which holds that justice processes are essential for establishing accountability and giving judicial remedy to and acknowledgement of the suffering of victims. The Commission also recalls the African Charter-based approach to transitional justice as set out in its Study on Transitional Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa, which inter alia endorses the principles of accountability and non-impunity, along with conciliation and restitution.

The Commission views the arrest of Kabuga, considered to be one of the main funders of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 and founder of a broadcaster which incited the genocide, as an overdue but crucial step towards justice for the victims of the genocide, to whom the Commission pays its tribute.

The Commission further recalls the great emphasis placed by the AUTJP on national and local ownership for TJ processes, with a preference for national level prosecution, where the legal systems are in place, which is also aligned with the needs of the affected people to participate in and witness the process. In this regard, and cognisant of previous successful transfers of cases from the ICTR/International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) to Rwanda with all fair trial standards upheld, the Commission urges that Kabuga’s case be transferred to the national system in Rwanda. This not only makes practical sense, but also has a symbolic value for affected persons and would contribute towards full healing, justice and sustainable peace in Rwanda.

The Commission considers this arrest as a major boost towards the arrest and prosecution of or the surrender of other fugitives, notably the remaining indictees of the ICTR.


Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso

Focal Point for Transitional Justice and Human Rights and

Chairperson of the Commission


Banjul, 20 May 2020