International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's request for the surrender of Muvunyi and Ndindiliyimana: a step closer to justice
Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, a commander in the former Rwandese army in the
southern prefecture of Butare, was arrested in London on 5 February following the issuing of an
international warrant by the ICTR seeking his surrender. He faces charges of genocide and crimes
Muvunyi's arrest follows the arrest of General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former Chief of
Staff of the Gendarmerie, in Belgium on 31 January, again at the request of the ICTR. The ICTR has
charged Ndindiliyimana with genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International welcomes both the UK and Belgian authorities' co-operation with the
ICTR and their quick response to the arrest warrants.
Other countries have also recently taken steps towards greater cooperation with the ICTR. In
November 1999 former government minister Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda was arrested in France on the
request of the ICTR and in January 2000, the Supreme Court in the USA declined to hear a challenge
to the surrender of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana to the ICTR. Both still remain under arrest though
they have not yet been transferred to the ICTR's detention centre in Arusha.
'These arrests reaffirm the principles of international justice and the importance of providing
financial, political and moral support to the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY),' the organisation stressed.
Each of these four countries has enacted legislation permitting the arrest and transfer of
individuals accused of these crimes to these tribunals. Sadly however, most countries have still failed
to fulfil their obligations under international law to do so. Amnesty International renews its call on all
states to enact the necessary legislation.
'The continuing work of the ICTR, the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London in October
1998 and the recent criminal proceedings brought against the former President of Chad, Hissein
Habre, in Senegal, hopefully signal a new determination by states to fulfil their international legal
obligations to help secure justice for the victims of human rights violations.'
The ICTR, which sits in Arusha, Tanzania, was established in November 1994 to try those accused of
perpetrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rwanda in 1994, when as many as
one million people were massacred.
To date seven individuals have been sentenced to prison terms by the ICTR.
*It is important to distinguish a state's obligation under international law to surrender to an
international criminal tribunal a person suspected of a crime under international law from the
extradition of a person from one state to another. The UN Security Council resolutions establishing
the ICTR and ICTY and the Statute of the International Criminal Court place an international
obligation on states to arrest and transfer individuals who are sought by these tribunals for
international crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity. States cannot refuse to comply
with such a request. While the existence of domestic legislation for cooperation between a state and
the tribunals establishes procedures and provides a clear legal basis for such transfers, states which do
not have such legislation have previously transferred suspects to the ICTR.
The extradition of a person sought for crimes committed in another country is dependent
largely on the existence of an extradition agreement between the two states, and is done in accordance
with domestic extradition laws which establish procedures, including independent judicial scrutiny.
A request for extradition may be refused if the state which is requested to hand over the person fears
that he or she may suffer human rights violations such as torture or the death penalty, or if the person
is being sought for a political offence.