Loretta Lynch’s Shame: International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR)

News outlets have been praising Loretta Lynch’s credentials as a former Special Counsel to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR); Bloomberg News heralded the nominee’s moral fiber in a news report titled “Rwanda Tribunal Taught Loretta Lynch Real Power of Prosecutors.”  However, those who know the disgraceful history of victor’s justice at the ICTR, and its service to the US/NATO agenda in Africa and the rest of the Global South, also know that prosecutorial power exercised at the ICTR is nothing to praise or take pride in. For in-depth documentation and analysis, read “Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice” by ICTR defense attorneys Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, from Baraka Books.
Last November 8th was the 20th anniversary of UN Resolution 955, which created the ICTR. To coincide with that anniversary, the UN announced a new ICTR legacy website, including a video tribute to itself.
During its 20 years in operation, the court indicted 93 Rwandan Hutus, convicted 61 and spent two billion dollars. In 2003, former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte announced that she intended to indict Rwanda’s Tutsi president, Paul Kagame, for the assassination of his predecessor, Rwandan Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundian Hutu President Cyprien Ntaryamira; but instead, Del Ponte was summarily fired.
No one was ever indicted for the assassinations, which, by the ICTR’s own admission, on its Youtube video post, “shattered the fragile peace established by the Arusha Accords, brokered in the hope of ending the armed conflict between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the Rwandan Government.”
Here is the opening self-congratulation of the ICTR’s video tribute to itself:

Its first makeshift courtroom, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda went to work on a formidable task. Its mission: to locate, apprehend and prosecute the architects of the genocide. Over the last 20 years, the Tribunal delivered judgments that defined, for the first time, how the world confronts acts of genocide in a court of law.”

The Taylor Report, on CIUT 89.5 FM Toronto, was for many years the only English language broadcast covering dissident history of the 1990 to 1994 war in Rwanda and the ICTR, so I asked Taylor Report host Phil Taylor what he thought of the video.  

“I think it’s shocking, embarrassing that they did this,” he said. “You know, there’s a proverb that says, ‘Self-praise is no recommendation.’ What I saw was a self-promoting video. It’s totally inaccurate, and they end up, strangely, by seeming to endorse the current government of Rwanda. And I don’t understand how that has anything to do with the mandate of a tribunal, which was to look into the crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994.

“So it shows to me that they really were engaged in a political exercise to basically justify the regime that exists there today, which is a military dictatorship established by Paul Kagame masquerading as a political structure. I think it’s contemptible, when you see such absurd, grand talk about the tribunal, and you hear this actor’s voice – and I’m convinced that is an actor – somebody paid a lot of money for that four-minute, self-promoting video.”
I told Phil that the video post does indeed acknowledge that it’s narrated by American television actor Clarke Peters, and produced by a New York City video production company.  
Phil said it probably cost a lot of money.  Indeed.    

He also said that “to bring it down to saying that now, in Rwanda, you can listen to the radio and be safe – that is such a caricature, because it is widely known that if you were a broadcaster in Rwanda today, and you were supporting Victoire Ingabire, you would be arrested, and you would not be safe.”

“Here is the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda putting out propaganda to sustain a one-man dictatorship. That is a disgrace. And that people calling themselves lawyers and judges associate themselves with such a video really just tells you that it was bankrupt from the day it started.
“So, indeed it was, exactly what they said it would not be. It was victor’s justice. And the video that they presented is the kind of thing you get from an authoritarian regime. They do not expect to be contradicted. They don’t expect anybody to be allowed to say anything, except themselves.
“It’s like a regime – the ICTR. And it’s a self-congratulating regime. I don’t understand why they have a public relations department to slap them on the back. That seems to be a waste of money and not the purpose of a tribunal.”
Whatever good reasons there may be to confirm Loretta Lynch’s appointment as US Attorney General, this disgraceful episode of her legal career should not go unreported. And, it should not be reported in the same smug, self-congratulatory tone of the ICTR’s 20th anniversary video

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