Ex-ICTR Prosecutor Charles Adeogun-Phillips dismisses claims of double 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 15 April 2024 at 03:46

Lawyer Charles Adeogun-Phillips, who led teams of international prosecutors and investigators in the trial of perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi, has dismissed reports of a double genocide in the 1994 atrocities that shocked the world.

Speaking on Sanny Ntayombya’s podcast the ‘Long Form’, the seasoned international lawyer maintained that there was no evidence to support the claims that the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) engaged in a counter-genocide against the Hutus after taking control of the country and stopping the government-led killing of the Tutsi in July 1994.

According to Adeogun-Phillips, while there were killings of members of the Hutu community during the period, there was no evidence to prove that the murders were coordinated or state-sponsored, as witnessed during the 100 days of targeted killings of the Tutsi.

“There was clear evidence that there was some reprisal attacks but there is no evidence that those reprisal attacks were coordinated or state sponsored,” Adeogun-Phillips stated.

He maintained that the RPF soldiers had no means to commit a genocide as they were “too busy trying to gain ground to be able to secure and take over the country as best as they could.”

“It was not humanly possible for them to have spread to be chasing the refugees and doing what they are alleged to have done. Not on a concerted national planning level as we saw with the genocide.”

“Widespread and systematic attacks in international criminal law require coordination not only on the local level but also on the central level. If you knew the amount of planning that went into planning the Genocide against the Tutsi, the purchase of machetes, how machetes were imported, how refugees were gathered in preconceived safe locations, how political leaders were earmarked and eliminated here in Kigali and other parts of the country, there was no such evidence of a plan against the Hutu,” he added.

As an investigator, he claimed to have been aware of court martial processes against soldiers suspected to have been involved in the isolated cases of reprisal attacks.

“There were some cases of court martials taking place. As part of my work, I was privy to some of the investigations that we did and shared with government. I was privy to some of the prosecutions that took place,” the lawyer noted.

Adeogun-Phillips played a leading role in the probed and prosecution of 12 war crime trials before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda UN-ICTR.

Reflecting on the tribunal’s works as the country marks the 30th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed the lives of a million people, the lawyer said there were many challenges ranging from inadequate facilities to limited number of judges to hear the cases in Arusha, Tanzania.

“Our infrastructural needs as an institution did not progress as fast as our procedural needs. Maybe there were two cases on at a time but there was no court room, the judges had to alternate,” he revealed.

The ICTR was established pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 955 of November 8, 1994.

Curtains came down on the tribunal in December 2015 after more than two decades of trial that led to indictment of 93 individuals, 61 convictions and 14 acquittals.

During the period, the ICTR withdrew two indictments, and three individuals died before the conclusion of their trials. Furthermore, five cases were transferred to national courts in Rwanda and France.

Dr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, a former prosecutor and special investigator at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), discusses his experience investigating and prosecuting the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda during an interview with Sanny Ntayombya