A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: genocide

Judgment Day

ICTR

By Halina Schiffman-Shilo

“There will be no humanity without forgiveness. There will be no forgiveness without justice. But justice will be impossible without humanity.”

-Yolande Mukagasana. Inscribed in the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

On December 20, the ICTR delivered its last judgment. Augustin Ngirabatware, indicted in 1999 for his alleged role in the Rwandan genocide, was found guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide, and rape by Trial Chamber II. He was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment.

Since our arrival in August, those of us interns designated to Chambers worked almost exclusively on the Ngirabatware case. We reviewed the files, discussed (and at times argued) its legal and factual points, and even visited some places in Rwanda where crimes particular to this case were committed. In short, we spent the last four months living and breathing Ngirabatware.

And on judgment day, we were in the courtroom.

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We Are the Same

unity

By Halina Schiffman-Shilo

I met a Rwandan man a few weeks ago. Actually, he’s not technically from Rwanda. He was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and is a dual citizen of the DRC and Belgium. But in his heart, he feels Rwandan. And by the end of our conversation, I think I understood why.

He is a colleague of a friend who interns at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, here in Arusha. He’s lived and worked all over the world and came to Arusha to help get the Court up and running—no small task in the most efficient of countries. Here, it was probably herculean.

My friend Demaris stayed at his place for a night before she could move into her new apartment, and we had gone to collect her things. He warmly welcomed us (Karibu Tanzania!) and before I knew it, we were all sitting in his living room chatting. He eventually  asked me about my last name, which is complicated to explain because it’s hyphenated and not English.  I off-handedly told him it was Hebrew, trying to avoid the details, but his next question  caught me a little off-guard: Was I Jewish?

I generally think religion is a private and potentially (or extremely) touchy subject, so I tend to avoid it when I meet new people. But as I was asked the question directly, and I was in his house, I answered.

Yes, I’m Jewish.

His face changed. I didn’t know if this was going to go well or not. But then he looked at me in amazement and said “You and I, we are the same.”

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