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contribution 17 - EBOE-OSUJI Chile

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Sentence and detention


original version

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. My point relates to the matter raised by Professor Reyntjens when he spoke on his last point. In my comments, of course, I want to be clear, are not meant to address the specific factual situation that he was speaking about, that was the Kabgayi case, but rather a larger philosophical question that I hope we can think about as perhaps part of the outcomes of this meeting. And that is the practical significance of this distinction between international crimes and ordinary crimes.

I have always been an advocate of the distinction. Let me be clear about that. But I always understood that the point was to reflect that international crimes were crimes that shocked the conscience of humanity, I thought.

My question is: is it really how things are playing out in the International Tribunals? And yesterday there was that discussion which Pierre Prosper contributed to, of course, about the leniency. And in national jurisdictions, in many countries, when you convict somebody of one murder, the penalty is life imprisonment. In some places it’s the death penalty.

I remember in the Semanza case that I prosecuted, a few months or weeks before the close of that case, the presiding judge in the case, Judge Ostrovsky, was reported in the Moscow Times, in an interview he gave there, where he complained, he was speaking generally about the ICTR and the slow pace of trials, and he suggested in that article one of the reasons for it was that in the indictments there are several counts. And, of course, I felt guilty immediately because in the Semanza indictment I had 14 counts. In those days, indictments were not lean and mean, let me say.

So at the close of the case, I felt obligated to speak to it, and I said, "Look, Your Honour, if in Mwulire hill at least 600 people were killed and at Musha church we’re talking about another 400 to 300 people killed, in Ruhanga church about the same number, and the Mabare mosque about 300 people" ‑‑ there were at least. I didn’t say about, at least.

I’m saying that perhaps the criticism I should face in the case was that we had not indicted enough, considering that in national jurisdictions we would be talking about an indictment that had at least 600 counts in it.

Now, it brings us back to this question of statistics, those who died are often spoken of in terms of statistics. Bring all this together, we find, of course, that in national jurisdictions, for those ordinary crimes like murder, people will be facing stiffer sentences, whereas in the international crimes, it looks like the trend is the other way. Are we characterising crimes as international in other to have more lenient sentences? Again, we come back to the question: What is the practical significance of this dichotomy between international crimes and ordinary crimes? Just a point for us to think about. Thank you.


I give the floor to Mr.Nsengimana.