A United Nations war crimes tribunal has sentenced a former top Rwandan official to prison for life, the latest conviction in the international effort to win justice for the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who headed the Ministry of Women’s Development in the Rwandan government at the time of the violence, was convicted for genocide and rape as a crime against humanity, among other charges. She, her son and four other officials were accused of ordering the killing of scores of Tutsis taking refuge from the slaughter at a local government office in Butare. The rape charge was added because she knew that her subordinates, members of a Hutu militia group, the Interahamwe, were raping Tutsi women and she failed to act to prevent or punish them.
The United States welcomes the action of the U.N.'s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The ruling is an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community. Further, Nyiramasuhuko's conviction is a significant milestone because it demonstrates that rape is a crime of violence, and it can be used as a weapon of war by both men and women. She is the first woman found guilty of genocide by an international court.
There are still nine leaders of the Rwandan genocide sought by the ICTR who are still at large. The United States urges all nations to redouble their cooperation with the tribunal so that these fugitives can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice.