The United States as an Essential Forum for Litigating the Genocide in Rwanda

Author Draft; publication - In the Shadow of Genocide (co-editor), Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2015

See all articles by Matthew Kane

Matthew Kane

University of Oklahoma - College of Law

Date Written: June 19, 2015

Abstract

While the majority of the current population of Rwanda was born after the bleakest chapter of Rwandan history, the vestiges of the genocide remain, affecting much of the present social and political discourse in Rwanda. Traditional criminal legal systems are no more equipped to deal with such mass atrocities than are individuals. As a result, unique transitional justice mechanisms were implemented, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the gacaca, government-established grassroots tribunals based in name and in form, to a certain degree, on traditional tribal dispute resolution mechanisms. Other countries, including the United States, have served as forums for additional litigation involving the genocide.

This chapter introduces a wide compilation of United States federal cases, involving various aspects of the genocide, and compares and contrasts issues identified in the federal cases with those at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and, to a lesser degree, those in Rwandan national courts and the gacaca. Upon review of the relevant federal cases, one sees that the United States courts, despite significant challenges, provide a unique and occasionally only possible forum for obtaining novel information and evidentiary determinations about the genocide and more recent political concerns in Rwanda. Although U.S. courts lack experience with the genocide, they do not have the potential biases found in other jurisdictions.

As a result of U.S. litigation, many victims have seen a perpetrator convicted or found liable for their unfathomable conduct. Others have been protected from coerced confessions or improper deportation. Various judicial determinations may serve as precedent or persuasive authority in future U.S. and international litigation. Ultimately, some measure of justice has been provided to those affected by the genocide that would not have been otherwise available.

JEL Classification: K14, K33

Suggested Citation

Kane, Matthew, The United States as an Essential Forum for Litigating the Genocide in Rwanda (June 19, 2015). Author Draft; publication - In the Shadow of Genocide (co-editor), Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2652730

Matthew Kane (Contact Author)

University of Oklahoma - College of Law ( email )

300 Timberdell Road
Norman, OK 73019
United States

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