Symposium Focuses on International Criminal Courts in Africa


December 14, 2007

Participants in the "Sexual Violence under International Law" panel, from left: Suzanne Chenault (ICTR), Catherine MacKinnon (University of Michigan), Bellancille Umukobwa, (Avega Genocide Widow's Group, Rwanda), Murtaza Jaffer (ICTR), and Romauld Haule (St. Augustine University, Tanzania).
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Leigh Swigart, director of programs in international justice and society, attended a symposium from November 29 to December 1, in Arusha, Tanzania, titled "The Legacy of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals for Africa." The Center was involved in the conceptualization of the event, in collaboration with legal staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and it will also produce a publication of the proceedings.

The symposium brought together members of the chambers, prosecution, and defense of the ICTR with academics, legal practitioners, government officials, and civil society actors from Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and Sierra Leone, as well as from Europe and North America. Participants discussed the successes and challenges of the ICTR, in particular, but also those of other courts on the continent, in bringing to justice persons who have committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The significance of particular ICTR cases for Africa was also discussed, including the Akayesu Case, which found that rape can constitute an act of genocide, and the Media Case, where journalists and media owners were found responsible for incitement to criminal activity through radio broadcasts and newspapers. Other symposium sessions addressed the fairness of proceedings in international criminal tribunals and how these tribunals' work can foster the rule of law in national jurisdictions.

Swigart was accompanied by Brandeis undergraduate Daniel Koosed '08, who interned at the ICTR as an Ethics Center Student Fellow during summer 2007, when he assisted in the planning of the symposium.