Coalition for Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations

News Release from Hirondelle News Agency


Arusha, February 10th, 2005(FH)

A motion filed by the Prosecutor to drop rape charges against the former military commander of Butare, Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, has met stiff opposition from an international women's lobby group.

The group, Coalition for Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations, is not convinced that the tribunal has no "strong evidence" to make the rape charges stick.

In a letter addressed to the Prosecutor of the ICTR, Hassan Bubacar Jallow,  the coordinator of Coalition for Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations, Ariane Brunet, urged the prosecutor to "withdraw or modify" the motion, pointing out that the tribunal's past record on rape prosecutions was "shameful".

"Please do not continue to perpetrate this injustice against Rwanda 's women by dropping rape charges against Muvunyi", wrote the activist.

She continued that Butare had been devastated by killings and sexual violence during the genocide, and that what the Prosecutor needed to do was put together "a dynamic and committed team of investigators" who would come up with evidence in no time at all.

She compared the situation to that of the special court for the Sierra Leone which, "with only two gender investigators, was able to compile their evidence for all of their cases in the space of one year".

Muvunyi's trial is set to open February 28 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The original charge sheet had five counts: genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity (rape and other inhumane acts).

The office of the Prosecutor did not immediately comment on the protest by the women's organisation.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Official Website)