France Jails Former Doctor in Rwandan Genocide Trial

    France Jails Former Doctor in Rwandan Genocide Trial
    Photo: Per-Anders Pettersson/ 3rd Party - Misc via Getty Images (Feb. 20, 2003 - village reconciliation meeting, Rwanda)

    The Facts

    • A former physician who participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide was sentenced to 24 years in prison by France. On Wednesday, Sosthene Munyemana, a 68-year-old former gynecologist, was convicted of crimes against humanity and for his role in the plot to plan these crimes.

    • Following 100 days of mass killings in 1994 — which resulted in an estimated 800K deaths among Tutsis and moderate Hutus — Munyemana is the sixth person to go on trial in France.


    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    In the past few years, France has stepped up efforts to apprehend and prosecute genocide suspects. This is the sixth case about the genocide in Rwanda that is making its way through the legal system in Paris, however, since the genocide took place thirty years ago and firsthand accounts are getting harder to come by, it's getting harder and harder to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of the crime. The victims of this horrible murder have been able to seek justice and accountability because of collective efforts and a "universal jurisdiction," which permits France to try major human rights crimes committed outside the nation under specific circumstances.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    When it comes to prosecuting those who are accused of committing the genocide in Rwanda, France's "universal jurisdiction" has some serious problems. The genocide occurred far away and was three decades ago. Over time, the evidence has deteriorated and there are a plethora of problems including the challenges of credible witness testimony after such a long time. It's not reasonable to believe that the Paris Assize Court has the right tools for delivering fair sentences. Sadly there are deep systemic problems in the global system allowing for the swift and effective prosecution of perpetrators of genocide.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that an East African Federation will exist and govern before 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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