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IV. Barriers to Justice For Sexual Violence Crimes
Genocide Prosecutions in the Rwandan Legal System
The 1994 genocide decimated an already feeble national justice system. By the end of the genocide, Rwanda counted only twenty judicial personnel responsible for criminal investigations and only nineteen lawyers.37 The 448 judges serving in national courts by 1997 were poorly trained and represented roughly half of the number of pre-genocide judges.38 Since 1994, the justice system has faced the overwhelming prospect of trying the more than 120,000 persons accused of genocide-related crimes.
The twelve provincial courts, known as Tribunals of First Instance, adjudicate most civil and criminal cases, including those involving sexual violence.39 Specialized chambers in the Tribunals of First Instance and the military courts exercise jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and other crimes committed in connection with genocide.40 While formally dissolved in 2001, these chambers continue to hear genocide cases that were transferred to the Tribunals of First Instance before March 15, 2001.
A 2000 law established a national civilian police force, dismantling the gendarmerie and creating the Rwanda National Police (RNP).41 There are RNP territorial units at the regional and provincial levels. Provincial police units oversee police stations and smaller police posts at the sector level. Judicial police officers attached to a Criminal Investigation Division conduct investigations at headquarters, provincial, and station levels and transfer completed casefiles to the appropriate prosecutors office for indictment and prosecution.
Legislation Governing Genocide Trials and Gacaca
Two laws have shaped the process of national accountability for the events of 1994. A third law, adopted in June 2004, has recently modified this system. The Organic Law of 30 August 1996 on the Organization of the Prosecution of Offences Constituting the Crime of Genocide or Crimes Against Humanity (Genocide Law) established four categories of offenders subject to prosecution: category one for organizers or leaders of genocide, notorious killers, and persons who committed acts of sexual torture, category two for murderers or accomplices to murder or serious attacks, category three for persons who committed serious attacks without the intent to cause death, and category four for those responsible for property damage.42 Persons convicted of category one crimes are eligible for life imprisonment or the death penalty.43
Faced in 2001 with a backlog of court cases against more than 100,000 persons detained on genocide charges,44 the Rwandan government adapted a community conflict resolution mechanism, known as gacaca, to the pursuit of genocide prosecutions. The process aims to enlist active popular participation in public hearings as a means to facilitate truth-telling, accountability, and national reconciliation.45 The Organic Law of January 26, 2001 Setting Up Gacaca Jurisdictions and Organizing Prosecutions for Offences Constituting the Crime of Genocide or Crimes Against Humanity Committed between October 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994 (2001 Gacaca Law) replaced the Genocide Law. The 2001 law expanded category one, the most serious category of crimes, to include the crime of rape46 and established approximately 11,000 gacaca courts at different administrative levelsthe cell, sector, district, and province levels.47
Gacaca courts adjudicate those genocide cases that were not transferred by prosecutors offices to the Tribunals of First Instance before March 15, 2001. There are seven pre-trial stages undertaken by gacaca courts at the cell level.48 During the sixth stage, witnesses may testify publicly before the assembly, or in camera before the accused and the panel of gacaca judges.
At the conclusion of the seventh stage, gacaca courts will transfer category one offenders, including perpetrators of rape or sexual torture, to the Tribunals of First Instance for trial. All other offenders will be tried in gacaca courts. In June 2002, proceedings began in eighty cell-level gacaca courts covering twelve sectors, one in each of twelve pilot districts.49 In November 2002, the pilot program was expanded to 118 sectors in Rwandas 106 districts districts.50 The pilot program encountered numerous difficulties, including inadequate participation of community members;51 absenteeism and lack of commitment on the part of gacaca judges; and reluctance of potential witnesses, who feared retaliation.52 In mid-June 2004, gacaca was implemented nationwide with the launch of pre-trial proceedings in all 9,201 cell-level courts, to be followed by trials in Tribunals of First Instance and gacaca courts at the cell and sector levels.53 Trials have not yet commenced.
Under the Genocide Law and the 2001 Gacaca Law, persons accused of genocide or related crimes in categories two, three, and four are eligible for considerable reduction of their sentences through plea-bargaining in accordance with the provisions of the gacaca law. Under reforms introduced in 2004 (see discussion of the 2004 Gacaca Law, below), category one offenders who confess may also have their sentences reduced.54 Since 1997, the government has sought to ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system by provisionally releasing some of those who confessed to their crimes. A January 2003 presidential directive led to the provisional release of more than 20,000 detainees in May 2003, specifically: non-category one detainees who confessed to crimes, detainees who were minors at the time of the genocide, those who were aged seventy years or older, or those who were gravely ill and, additionally, had served more than half the sentences applicable to the crimes in question.55 Authorities have released these detainees subject to certain conditions, including the possibility of re-accusation in cell-level gacaca courts for crimes to which they did not confess. As of June 2004, Rwandan prisons and communal lock-ups housed approximately 83,800 persons. Approximately 77,000 of these detainees were held on charges of genocide. At the time research for this report was conducted, authorities had announced that another 15,000 to 25,000 detainees would be released under the provisional release program in August 2004, but by the end of August, no prisoners had been released.
For the many persons who were detained on genocide charges on the basis of little or no evidence, the provisional release policy may end the longstanding violation of their due process rights. Sexual violence survivors have reacted differently to the release or prospective release of detainees who allegedly raped them during the genocide.56 Some women feel additional pressure to report the rape. Others report that seeing the alleged perpetrators, who have since returned to their communities, has further traumatized them and inhibited them from taking action. B.R., of Gitarama province, reported that two of her alleged attackers were released from prison and reintegrated in her community in May 2003.57 Traumatized and frightened by her encounters with the men, who visited her with the purpose of bribing her to remain silent about the rape, B.R. subsequently abandoned her mother and siblings and moved to another district. Some victims told Human Rights Watch that the provisional release policy has eroded their faith in the justice system.58
Various developmentsincluding training of gacaca judges, revision of the gacaca law, and organization of community service work for detainees with commuted sentencesdelayed nationwide implementation of the gacaca process until mid-June 2004.59 These long delays led to a loss of faith in the justice system and a sense of resignation on the part of many victims of sexual violence.In mid-June 2004, a new law (2004 Gacaca Law) restructured the gacaca system by eliminating district and province-level gacaca courts; reducing the number of gacaca judges in each court from nineteen to nine; suppressing category four and enlarging the scope of categories one, two, and three; and establishing new safeguards for rape victims. Under the new law, rape victims now have three options for private testimony in gacaca courts; these mechanisms are discussed in a later section of this report. The law also prohibits individuals from publicly confessing to rape, in order to protect the identity of the alleged victim.
Cases of Sexual Violence in Genocide Trials and Gacaca Proceedings
Due to the high prevalence of rape and other sexual violence during the 1994 genocide, Rwanda illustrates well both the prospects and limits of efforts to achieve post-conflict accountability at the national level for sexual violence crimes. The Rwandan experience with post-conflict justice for sexual violence will provide a useful point of comparison with other countries in the region where combatants have commonly used rape and other gender-based violence as a weapon of war, namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, the DRC, Sudan, and Burundi. In Rwanda as in other countries, the main avenue for prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of rape, as well as other crimes, is the national judicial system. The vast majority of those who directly perpetrated sexual violence, murder, and other offenses were lower-level actors, rather than ringleaders of the genocide who would come under the purview of the ICTR.
Genocide Trials Involving Rape
Human Rights Watch interviewed women60 of varying ages and backgrounds who had suffered sexual violence during or since the genocide and reviewed judgments in trials from both periods. An extraordinarily small number of cases of genocide sexual violence have been prosecuted at the domestic level. From December 1996 to December 2003, the Tribunals of First Instance and military courts tried 9,728 persons61 accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, or related crimes. Human Rights Watch consulted numerous sources62 for information on genocide prosecutions and judgments and examined over 1,000 judgments covering a wide range of crimes. Of these cases, only thirty-two included charges of rape or sexual torture. In addition to the judgments, three cases remained under investigation at the prosecutorial level, a preliminary step before transfer to the Tribunal of First Instance for the commencement of trial.63 Though not exhaustive, this survey provides a fair illustration of genocide cases that have come before the provincial and military courts. Human Rights Watch also reviewed eighteen judgments in rape cases from the period 2000-2003 in the provinces of Butare, Gitarama, and Nyamata. These decisions are discussed in a later section of the report.
The review of genocide judgments reveals the paucity of genocide sexual violence prosecutions and an onerous caseload that has delayed genocide trials and subjected those accused of genocideincluding rapeto extended pre-trial detention. Thirty-two of the judgments across ten of eleven provinces and the city of Kigali included charges of sexual violence against a total of fifty-one defendants.64 Thirty-one defendants were convicted of rape or sexual torture.65
Seven women residing in Gitarama province who were raped during the genocide told Human Rights Watch that they had reported the rapes in the period 1994-2003. However, we recorded only four judgments in the province, none corresponding to their cases, which included charges of rape or sexual torture against a total of four defendants.66 In addition, eight ongoing trials in Gitarama involve charges of rape or sexual torture.67 The lack of legal process for the seven cases relates to a systemic problem, the fact that the majority of detainees suspected of genocide crimes, including rape or sexual torture, remain in prison and await trial. Thus, while none of the seven cases had yet come to trial, five Gitarama residents who had filed rape charges reported that at least one of the men they had named in their rape complaints was still in prison. By contrast, the Tribunal of First Instance of Nyamata, in Kigali-rural province, has held a far greater number of genocide rape trials. From 1996 to December 2003, forty-four completed trials have included charges of sexual violence.68 Despite these local variations in the number of rape prosecutions, based on historical and demographic differences, genocide trials involving rape fall far short of the estimated tens of thousands of acts of sexual violence during the genocide.
To explain the rarity of rape prosecutions, prosecutors mainly have cited victims failure to come forward to report rape. The Rwandan justice system, however, has hindered such reporting because it lacks appropriate protections for rape victims. As discussed in a later section, rape victims are more likely to confide in women police officers, prosecutors, and gacaca judges, but women are poorly represented in these groups. Prosecutorial staff and judges have not been trained to handle sexual violence cases. The classic courts do not guarantee rape victims privacy and confidentiality. Further, in a few cases documented by Human Rights Watch, authorities failed to file complaints in response to genocide survivors reports of rape. According to NGO representatives and victims, in the initial period after the genocide investigators often did not consider rape to be as serious an offense as other accusations, such as murder, against the same suspect.69
Gacaca Procedure and Sexual Violence
There have been similarly few reports of rape in the pilot gacaca courts. Gacaca courts will hold pre-trial proceedings for all genocide cases, whether they involve sexual violence or other crimes, which were not transferred by prosecutors offices to the Tribunals of First Instance or military courts before March 15, 2001. In drawing up the list of defendants, cell-level gacaca courts are not bound by past complaints against persons imprisoned on genocide or related charges.70 Therefore, all genocide survivors, including victims of sexual violence, whose cases were not transferred to the classic courts before the 2001 deadline must renew their accusations in gacaca courts. Given the nature of the crime of sexual violence and the stigma that attaches to victims, this procedure is particularly difficult for rape victims who previously filed rape or sexual torture complaints against the same detainees in the early post-genocide period.
The case of B.R., a victim of rape during the genocide, highlights this difficulty as well as the larger problem of genocide survivors lack of faith in prospects for legal redress. When Human Rights Watch researchers spoke to B.R. in late February 2004, she awaited word from the prosecutors office following her new complaint against two men with a view to seeking their rearrest, but she seemed to have lost interest in her case. She was frustrated and also fearful, following altercations between her mother and the alleged rapists who had returned to the community after their release.71 When asked whether she would participate in gacaca, she replied:
I dont think it will achieve much of anything. I think of my family, which was large, with many children . . . . Everyone was killed. Try to understand, there are only three children and my mother who remain alive. Do you think we have the strength to come forward in gacaca? They will say, Look how you are dressed . . . I think we will all go mad. . . . There are times when my mother, older sister, brother, and I sit together and just cry.72
Testimonies collected by Human Rights Watch researchers demonstrated that gacaca procedures under the 2001 Gacaca Law discouraged women from testifying about their experiences of sexual violence. Under the 2001 Gacaca Law, a rape victim who chose to report rape to a gacaca court could testify orally or in writing before the general assembly, which is composed of a minimum of 100 community members. At the time, gacaca rules required the gacaca president (the chief judge at the cell level) to read written testimony aloud to the assembly.73 Alternatively, the complainant could testify in camera before the panel of nineteen gacaca judges and the accused.74 The presence of twenty people denied the victim privacy and confidentiality. While the 2004 Gacaca Law has modified in camera procedure to allow a rape victim to testify privately to a single gacaca judge, in camera testimony in the Rwandan context would still afford limited protections to witnesses. Cell-level gacaca proceedings occur in a small community setting, where closed-door testimony is likely to be an open secret and could suggest to community members that the witnesss testimony concerns sexual violence.
According to government officials and NGO representatives, cell-level gacaca courts have encountered few cases of sexual violence, due in part to insufficient procedural protections under the 2001 law that discouraged women from coming forward.75 A representative of a Rwandan NGO described to Human Rights Watch a gacaca hearing she had attended in 2002 in Gitarama province, where B.U., a female genocide survivor, testified before the assembly.76 Upon completion of her testimony, B.U. said, There are other things that I do not wish to say in public. The representative interviewed B.U. privately, and she reported that she had been raped. Fearful of the reaction of the assembly, she expressed a desire to speak privately with the gacaca judges. Since the launch of the pilot program in June 2002, 581 gacaca courts in ten provinces had registered approximately 134 cases of rape or sexual torture, as compared to approximately 3,308 cases of non-sexual violence crimes, such as murder, assault, or looting, brought before the same courts.77
Obstacles to Reporting Sexual Violence
We who have suffered rape, we are afraid that the person we tell will reveal our story to others. If I go before the court, who will I speak to? If there is a way for someone to punish them [through prosecution], I hope that they are punished, but if not, it is for God [to judge them].
S.K., Kanzenzi district, February 20, 2004.
Serious obstacles to reporting, investigating, and prosecuting sexual violence cases remain. Our research found that some of the barriers to justice for genocide rape stem from the particular context of April-July 1994, one of mass violence and social disorder, and its impact on national accountability mechanisms. Other more general difficulties that persist with respect to recent rape cases reflect the failure to define rape and other gaps in statutory law; systemic weaknesses within the police, prosecutors offices, and judiciary; and cultural and social obstacles. This section focuses on barriers to reporting rape, chief among which are evidentiary issues and inadequate procedural protections to mitigate stigmatization and retraumatization of rape victims.
Victims Concerns Regarding Lack of Evidence
In the case of rape or other criminal offenses, authorities are required to investigate complaints and bear the burden of proving the guilt of the accused. However, some Rwandan women believed that they shouldered this responsibility. Women who were raped during the genocide explained that they had not initially reported the abuse or did not plan to testify to rape in gacaca courts because they could not identify or locate the alleged rapists, they believed that one or more of the men had since died, or feared their claims would be rejected for lack of physical evidence or eyewitness testimony of the attack.78 As J.B., a resident of Gitarama province who was raped by two men during the genocide in the presence of her three children, told Human Rights Watch: My greatest sorrow is that I dont know who they were . . . If I did, they would be known, and they would be punished. . . . I would have had the courage to accuse them.79 W.K, another Gitarama resident who was raped by several Interahamwe at a roadblock, told us: I havent reported the rape because I dont know the names of those who did it. If I had known, I would have accused them.80 A report by the international NGO Penal Reform International cites the statement of a rape survivor on the issue of gacaca testimony: Rape did not necessarily occur in public. How can one accept the testimony of the victim without there having been a witness? What will happen when the accused pleads not guilty?81 Further, several rape victims and representatives of survivors organizations and other NGOs explained to Human Rights Watch that a large number of rapes were never reported because the victims were killed during the genocide or have since died of HIV/AIDS.
Similarly, with respect to post-1994 sexual violence, certain rape victims had not reported the rape because they could not identify their attackers or knew their attackers but lacked physical evidence or eyewitness testimony. One of these women, C.M., was first raped in the cell where she resided with her family and then moved to the nearest town, where she entered prostitution. She did not know the first attacker and reported that she has since been raped six times over several months by unknown men at night on the streets. She explained that several of her colleagues had also often been attacked in this way.82 Another woman, J.T., was abducted in 2000 and held captive by a man who raped her repeatedly. She told Human Rights Watch, I didnt go to the police because I didnt know his name, or where he was from. If I had known, I would have gone to the authorities.83
Stigmatization, Retraumatization, and Inadequate Procedural Protections for Witnesses
Societal Context of Stigmatization of Rape Victims
Nearly all the rape victims we interviewed recognized the importance of justice and accountability for sexual violence but were daunted by social and procedural obstacles they faced in reporting the crime to the police, prosecutors offices, or, more recently, gacaca courts. Persons who have experienced sexual violence are vulnerable to feelings of shame, depression, and stigmatization. Human Rights Watch interviews with women who were raped during the genocide, NGO representatives, government officials, and counselors point to various concerns that relate to isolation, stigmatization of rape victims and people living with HIV/AIDS, and persistent trauma. This section focuses on the situation of women raped during the genocide and then compares their experiences to those of recent victims.
S.I., a resident of Kigali-rural province, was raped during the genocide by four Interahamwe. Her interview with Human Rights Watch researchers was the second time that she had discussed the experience (the first having been with a counselor and representative of a survivors organization). She had not told her husband, who survived the genocide. This fact is partially explained by her persistent feelings of shame, evident during our interview and demonstrated by her tendency to blame herself for the attack: For a very long time, I have despised the sin of adultery. The fact that it happened to me, it disturbed me very much. I dont think that talking about it would achieve anything.84
Some victims of genocide sexual violence explained that feelings of shame and fear of community rejection had prevented them from reporting the assaults to police or prosecutors immediately after the genocide. A few of these women had accused their alleged rapists of murder, but preferred not to reveal the rape. Others had never filed rape or other charges due to stigma or lack of awareness of their rights, and most had experienced persistent trauma and feared that disclosure would lead to rejection by family or community members. One woman, who was raped by and forced to marry an RPA soldier, said that she did not blame him for the abuse because he acted out of love and did not abandon her.85 As the above cases of S.I. and other victims illustrate, victims who seek to report the abuse require trained, sympathetic interlocutors, effective procedural protections, and education about the availability of these protections.
Public Nature of the Gacaca Process
The gacaca process to date has heightened womens fears of stigmatization, community rejection, and retraumatization. As described above, witnesses may testify in writing or in camera to gacaca courts, but these protections are inadequate and do not ensure their privacy in the context of the small communities in which they live. Further, many of the women whom Human Rights Watch interviewed did not know that they had the option of testifying to rape in camera. C.H., who lives in Kibungo province, in a cell close to the Tanzanian border, told Human Rights Watch that she had been unaware of the option to testify in camera at the time she publicly accused her alleged rapist at a gacaca hearing in late 2002.86 Interahamwe murdered her husband in the early days of the genocide. Claiming that he was protecting her and her children, a neighbor repeatedly raped her over a period of several weeks. His son also raped C.H.s daughter. After C.H. renewed her accusation before the gacaca assembly, the president of the gacaca court read a letter written by the alleged rapist, who was in prison on charges of rape, murder, and looting. The letter accused C.H. and another woman of conspiring to bring false charges against him. C.H. told Human Rights Watch that after the letter was read, there was whispering and debate among the assembly members. Some accused her of lying; others supported her version of events. C.H. told Human Rights Watch, I would have preferred to testify in private because after I spoke in front of the assembly, [community members] snickered and whispered.87
Similarly, W.K., a Gitarama resident who was raped during the genocide, described community members behavior at local gacaca hearings she attended where other women had testified to rape: Some people in the crowd were whispering that the women were lying, but I know its true.88 In the context of societal stigmatization of victims of sexual violence, the public debate that exemplifies the participatory gacaca process exposes victims who testify to public humiliation and may discourage reporting of sexual violence.
Unaware or dismissive of the protections afforded by written or in camera gacaca testimony, the majority of women Human Rights Watch interviewed appeared to view the process as necessarily public and expressed fears that disclosure within the present system would expose them to stigma, blame, or public ridicule by members of their communities, particularly the cell-level gacaca general assembly.89 As illustrated by the attitude of E.G., a resident of Gitarama province, chronic trauma afflicts some women and discourages them from testifying. E.G., who is HIV-positive, was gang-raped by several Interahamwe and bore a child from rape after she fled to Congo (then Zaire).90 When asked whether she would testify about the rape at the gacaca hearings, E.G. explained:
Will we even be capable of testifying? To have the strength to walk up in front of people and say that so-and-so has raped me? . . . Its hard to confront the person who has raped you when he has a family and you are alone, without anyone to support you.91
By contrast, another woman spoke positively about her experience of publicly testifying to rape before a gacaca court. The case of Y.K., of Gitarama province, demonstrates that some women overcome their concerns about community attitudes because they desire accountability for the abuses they suffered.92 Y.K. was raped on two occasions and filed a rape complaint soon after the genocide. When she renewed her testimony at a recent gacaca hearing, one of the alleged rapists was present. She described the scene:
There were about 2,000 people there. When I testified, people kept quiet. I also said a lot of other things, including about other people. The judges said nothing. I said it all without shame. Immediately after the war, I was ashamed and always crying. But since then, it is better. People encouraged me and the women in the group [a support group for rape survivors] have helped me too.93
Beyond the debilitating effects of trauma, there are social risks to reporting rape to gacaca courts. A provincial prosecutor who has spoken to many women who were raped during the genocide told Human Rights Watch that some of them, particularly young women, consider themselves fortunate if they escaped injuries beyond the attack itself, such as contracting HIV from their attackers.94 Because they wish to lead full and normal lives, they hesitate to testify to rape for fear that the revelation will lead their husbands to reject them or, if they are unmarried, make them unmarriageable. The same official described the cases of three women who were raped during the genocide and are now married with children. They had privately recounted their experiences to her but refused to testify in gacaca courts for fear that their husbands would abandon them. According to a former rape counselor, many women also fear that disclosure will lead others to assume they are HIV-positive.95 Consequently, those more likely to testify are those who may consider that they have nothing to lose: widows, women whose communities already know them to be rape victims, or women who are dying of HIV/AIDS.96 Several of the women Human Rights Watch interviewed who had testified in the past or plan to testify to rape at prosecutors office or in gacaca courts were widows or identified themselves as HIV-positive.97
Conversely, other human rights advocates told Human Rights Watch that some women who are gravely ill suffer from depression and have lost the will to pursue accountability for the abuse.98 The case ofD.K., a widow and resident of Gitarama province who is frail due to AIDS, is illustrative.99 In 1994, she and her daughter were fleeing an attack when they stumbled into a group of armed men and were raped. Both were HIV-positive, and D.K.s daughter bore a child who died soon after birth. Her daughter refused to marry because she feared that she would transmit the disease to others. Her voice breaking, D.K. told Human Rights Watch that she had decided not to participate in gacaca: They [members of the gacaca assembly] cry out and you become traumatized, you begin to cry. If you remember what happened, you feel that something has changed inside. An old woman like me, how can I stand before people and tell them everything?100
Absence of Security and Confidentiality Protections for Witnesses
The 2001 Gacaca Law and the 2004 Gacaca Law prohibit tampering with or intimidating gacaca witnesses and judges. Despite this protection, reassuring statements by gacaca officials, and the presence of Local Defense Forces, a volunteer militia, at gacaca hearings, many witnesses remain fearful of retaliation by accused persons or their families.101 Some female genocide survivors, including those who were raped during the genocide, told Human Rights Watch that they were afraid to testify in gacaca courts and alluded to reported violence against gacaca witnesses in 2003. Penal Reform International has emphasized that rape victims, whose gacaca testimony may lead to life imprisonment or the death penalty for their alleged rapists, commonly face threats by fellow community members.102
Further, the 2001 Gacaca Law and its procedural guidelines did not expressly require gacaca judges and authorities to safeguard the confidentiality and identifying information of witnesses, including rape victims, who testify in writing or in camera.103 By contrast, the 2004 Gacaca Law requires gacaca judges secretly to transfer rape testimony to the appropriate prosecutors office.104 It is essential that gacaca judges properly implement this provision.
The Code of Criminal Procedure similarly does not require court judgments to redact the names and identifying information of rape complainants. In fifty genocide and ordinary criminal law judgments from the period 1997-2003, nearly all the transcripts cited the names of the women or girls whom the defendant was charged with having assaulted. The lack of confidentiality protections may discourage post-1994 rape victims, as well as women raped during the genocide whose cases will eventually be tried in the Tribunals of First Instance, from reporting the crime and pursuing the case through trial.
Post-1994 Rape Victims: Persistent Stigma and a Cycle of Violence
Although Rwandan society has become more sensitive to the issue of sexual violence since the genocide, stigmatization and rejection of rape victims by family and community members continue to deter reporting of rape. Human Rights Watch interviewed a woman whose family rejected her after she admitted to having been raped. The family of C.M., who is twenty-two years old, rejected her after admitted to having been raped as a college student in 2003.105 The attack occurred on the street, in the cell in western Rwanda where she resided with her family. She told Human Rights Watch that when she told her parents of the rape, They decided to throw me out immediately. She has since attempted to return home but her family continues to reject her.
Other women did not report the crime for fear that they would be ridiculed or blamed for not having resisted the attack. D.T., a resident of Butare town, was an eighteen-year-old genocide orphan. She was taken in by a family who employed her in their shop. In 1999, she was raped by a customer, who was employed by D.T.s employer in another capacity. D.T. never discusses the rape: I know it wasnt my fault but Im still ashamed because if I told people, they would ridicule me.106 Another woman, A.G., is a 30-year-old Kigali resident who was raped by a neighbor in 1999.107 At the time, her husband was in prison. She did not report the attack to the authorities. As she explained to Human Rights Watch:
I dont think the man [who raped me] would recognize that what he did was a sin. . . . Even the other neighbors might not think that he committed a sin. Here in Rwanda, if you dont cry out [for help during an attack], you cant complain later, because people will say you dont have a witness. . . . The man [who raped me] will say, Why didnt you shout for help?108
When victims are at or beyond the age of adolescence, the societal tendency to blame the victim opens the door to a cycle of violence, a pattern we documented in our interviews with young female prostitutes. Several prostitutes reported that their experiences of rape had led them to enter prostitution, where they became further vulnerable to sexual, physical, and other violence. G.N. is a twenty-year-old prostitute who was raped in 2002 by a police officer. She recounted having entered prostitution after the rape: I was a good girl who stayed at home. Its because of this [the rape] that I became loose.109 As described above, another woman, C.M., was evicted from her family home after her parents learned of the rape. She moved to town, where she gave birth to a child from the rape, and entered prostitution. She estimates that she has been raped six times in the past year and told Human Rights Watch that sexual violence happens to lots of other girls.110 J.T. is a twenty-year-old former prostitute.111 In 2000, when she was seventeen, a soldier abducted her from the street, imprisoned her in a house, and raped her several times; he held her captive for one week before she was able to escape. Her older sister rejected her when J.T. told her she was HIV-positive, and J.T. subsequently entered prostitution. With the support of a womens rights organization, she has since abandoned prostitution. Prostitutes face not only sexual but also other physical violence. Several prostitutes complained that police, military, and civilians routinely beat them, sometimes with batons, when they are on the streets.
Obstacles to Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Violence
Lack of Testimonial and Medicolegal Evidence
Lack of testimonial and medicolegal evidence has seriously impeded investigation and prosecution of sexual violence. As discussed earlier, many women raped during the genocide did not survive the genocide or have since died of HIV/AIDS or other causes without ever have lodged formal complaints. Other victims hesitate to report rape because they mistakenly believe they have the burden to provide eyewitness testimony or physical proof of the attack. The lack of evidence similarly hampers authorities efforts to pursue accountability.
During the genocide, Interahamwe or soldiers very frequently raped women and girls after they had killed in their presence their family members.112 Therefore, there are few eyewitnesses to acts of sexual violence. Citing this lack of concrete evidence, several women we interviewed doubted they would be able to prove that the assault occurred. I.B. told Human Rights Watch that she considered and then dismissed the idea of testifying to rape in gacaca: I thought about it, but in gacaca, it is easy to deny sexual abuse because there are no witnesses.113
During the genocide, G.R. was fleeing in the direction of her residence when she encountered a young neighbor, who raped her. When asked whether she would testify at gacaca about the rape, she told Human Rights Watch: The problem is that they ask for concrete evidence from people who claim they were raped. . . . But how can you give them concrete evidence when you were alone with the person [who raped you]?114
There are no evidentiary rules in gacaca, such as a requirement for tangible proof of sexual assault. But G.R.s testimony correctly pinpoints the problem of easy deniability of genocide sexual violence, given the disappearance of medical and other concrete evidence since the genocide and the fact that the gacaca process relies almost exclusively on prior evidence gathered by prosecutors offices and the testimony of the victim, the accused, and other community members. In rape investigations and prosecutions, physical evidence suggestive of forced sexual relations, such as bruising, is transitory and must be collected immediately following the sexual assault. Further, in the context of the Rwandan genocide, where women and girls were frequently raped after witnessing the murder of their family members, there are few eyewitnesses to sexual violence, as to other genocide crimes. In thirty-two judgments handed down from 1997-2002 involving rape during the genocide, courts acquitted several defendants accused of rape due to insufficient evidence. The court dismissed rape charges against six defendants due to lack of direct testimony from the victims, who had died following the rape. With respect to seven other defendants, the court held that the testimony of the victim and other witnesses alone did not adequately prove that the accused committed rape.
In a standard rape investigation, the absence of eyewitnesses could be overcome by medicolegal evidence indicating that the victim was raped and linking the attack to the defendant through biological proof. Clearly, medical examination of rape victims and preservation of evidence were not possible in the aftermath of the genocide. Compared to genocide sexual violence, post-1994 rape cases benefit from greater testimonial and medical evidence. However, Human Rights Watchs review of post-1994 rape judgments from the period 2000-2003 found that judges either rely on weak medical findings to convict defendants, or find such proof to be inconclusive.
A womens and childrens rights lawyer told Human Rights Watch that most medical professionals who conduct medical exams in rape cases do not have special training.115 As a result, she explained, medical reports in rape cases often lack sufficient information, making it difficult for judges properly to evaluate them. A human rights activist with expertise in medical issues reported that Rwandan hospitals and health centers lack a uniform protocol on the procedure for rape exams, to ensure that doctors gather the necessary proof for sexual violence investigations.116
Inconsistent Verdicts Due to Lack of Definition of Rape or Sexual Torture under the Law
The failure to define rape or sexual torture in the penal code has led to inconsistent verdicts in rape trials. The majority of genocide and criminal law judgments involving rape that Human Rights Watch reviewed resulted in conviction of the alleged rapists. The genocide judgments applied the terms rape and sexual torture inconsistently, indicating confusion among prosecutors and judges. Similarly, none of the post-1994 judgments invoke a definition of rape or defilement.
The Rw andan Penal Code of 1977 prohibits defilement, rape, torture, and sexual torture but fails to define these acts. Certain provisions provide for a longer term of imprisonment for the rape of a child below age sixteen and the death penalty if the victim dies as a result of the rape.117 With respect to sexual torture, the applicable provision appears to be article 316, which provides that a person who commits torture or acts of barbarity during the commission of a crime incurs the same punishment as one who commits murder.118 An examination of judgments in genocide trials reveals that the failure to define rape in the Penal Code has contributed to considerable confusion among witnesses, accused, prosecutors, and judges. The reliance on judicial discretion to characterize an act of sexual violence has produced inconsistent guilty verdicts and punishments.119 Thus, some judgments categorize an act of rape as sexual torture.120 Other judgments we examined reserved this term for acts of sexual mutilation or gang rape.121
With respect to women and girls who were raped outside the context of the genocide, NGO representatives and health services providers told Human Rights Watch that women often reported that their husbands forced or coerced them into having sex and and that many wives did not know of their right to refuse sex with their husbands. Human Rights Watch is concerned that the absence of a definition of rape in the Penal Code has contributed to lack of awareness and reporting of abuse against adult women and girls, whether by their partners or husbands, acquaintances, or strangers, and against those in marginalized groups, such as street children or prostitutes. A counselor Human Rights Watch interviewed reported that she treats many victims of marital rape.122 Many of the victims partners use physical violence or coercion to force them to have sex without protection. Forms of coercion include threats to deprive them of food or withhold school fees for their children.
Interviews with a number of NGO representatives and government officials suggest a general societal tendency to minimize the incidence of sexual violence against adult women. Several people Human Rights Watch interviewed cited the rarity of formal complaints, said there are good reasons to disbelieve adult women when they report rape, or blamed the women themselves for assaults that are reported.123 In a judgment Human Rights Watch reviewed, a court incorrectly based its decision on the fact that the sixteen-year-old victim, a child under the Rwandan child protection law,124 the Rwandan Civil Code,125 and the CRC, was an adult. The court acquitted the defendant of rape on the grounds that the victim, who is of age and, unlike children, cannot be misled [about her employers desire to have sex with her], consented to sexual relations.126
While some authorities Human Rights Watch interviewed clearly recognized the problem of sexual violence against adult women,127 two government officials, who otherwise stated their commitment to the elimination of sexual violence, suggested that sexual relations are usually consensual between a man and an adult woman, or that adult women, unlike girls, can readily defend themselves from attacks. The prosecutor of Gisenyi province told Human Rights Watch that rape of adult women is rare because an adult woman often participates in her own victimization and that, in such cases, there are two perpetrators [the attacker and his victim].128 As illustrations, he cited the cases of women who were intoxicated at the time of the attack or who had spoken to their rapists before the assault. Similarly, the prosecutor for the city of Kigali explained the few complaints of adult female rapes by noting that in such cases, there is often consent.129 It is particularly troubling that these comments, which demonstrate a lack of understanding of the nature of sexual violence, were made by senior officials responsible for the prosecution of sexual violence and other crimes.
Failure of Authorities to File Rape Charges Pursuant to Reports of Rape
Some women we interviewed who had been raped during the genocide had filed rape charges between 1998 and 2003 against one or more of their attackers.130 Half of this group, as well as one woman who had been raped after 1994, reported that authorities had never registered their rape complaints. In a 1998 report, the international NGOLawyers without Borders also found that officials had failed to indict some defendants on rape charges, despite rape complaints filed by victims.131 The women who complained of authorities failure to record the charges of genocide sexual violence reported that their alleged rapists were imprisoned for crimes other than sexual violence and had since been granted provisional release.132 B.R., a resident of Gitarama province, was gang-raped during the genocide and was a refugee in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) until 1997. She explained to Human Rights Watch that she had filed two rape complaints in 1997, to the local police and the mayor of her district. The police officer had repeatedly rebuffed her efforts, but she persevered: I went there several times, several times, I never stopped going.133 In her complaints, she named two of the men who she says gang-raped her in 1994. She attended their trial in 2000 and told Human Rights Watch that the assistant prosecutor never mentioned the assault against her during the proceedings. Human Rights Watchs copy of the final judgment reveals that the prosecutors office indicted the two men for murder and other offenses, but not sexual violence. The court sentenced them to twelve years of imprisonment after they confessed to crimes that did not include sexual violence. B.R. did not take further action in response to the prosecutorial lapse, and in 2003, the two men won provisional release from prison. They returned to live in B.R.s community and offered to pay her in exchange for her silence. Since then, she has complained to a survivors organization and met with the prosecutors office in the hope that the two men will be rearrested and charged with rape.
Human Rights Watchs review of genocide judgments also reveals that some authorities neglected rape complaints once they had reached the trial stage. Three judgments cited witness testimonies that referred either directly to rape or sexual torture, or to the abduction of women by male defendants or their imprisonment in homes.134 However, according to the transcripts, the assistant prosecutor or the presiding judge failed to pursue this line of inquiry, and the final rulings did not include references to sexual violence.135
Health Care and Other Assistance for Victims of Sexual Violence
This war in Rwanda, if only they had exterminated us all . . . The way we live now, we live with the knowledge that our neighbors do not like us.
D.K., a woman who was raped during the genocide and now suffers from trauma and HIV/AIDS, Kamonyi district, February 13, 2004.
Failures of Justice
Victims of sexual violence during and since the genocide whom Human Rights Watch interviewed believed that mechanisms for legal redressinvestigation, prosecution, punishment, and reparationsat the national and international levels have failed them. Even those who had testified or planned to testify to rape in gacaca proceedings, discussed in a later section of this report, focused less on what they may gain from pursuing their legal cases than on what they have lost from the justice denied them since 1994. In particular, victims of genocide sexual violence were indignant at what they perceive as impunity for their attackers.
M.K.s account captures the ambivalence of genocide survivors, who are simultaneously hopeful and dubious about prospects for justice. M.K. was raped by several Interahamwe during the genocide. In 1995, she filed charges with the local police, accusing the one attacker she had been able to identify of murder, but not rape. She told Human Rights Watch that she was ashamed to admit she had been raped and that, prior to the adoption of the 1996 Genocide Law, she did not believe that authorities would prosecute the crime of rape. He was detained after being accused of murder, but not of sexual violence. After he was released in 2003, she returned to the police and reported that he had also committed rape. Authorities did not update her on the status of her complaint, and absent any response, she did not return to follow up the case. While M.K. planned to testify in the gacaca court, the earlier failures of justice have disheartened her:
We think that justice is very important, but at the moment, it is meaningless. What is the use of justice if [the authorities] are releasing people [from prison]? . . . They tell us that gacaca will solve our problems, but they are releasing them even before gacaca starts. . . . We had put all that happened out of our minds, but when we see [the released detainees], it traumatizes us once again.136
Many genocide rape survivors understandably viewed accountability for the killing of their families as at least as important as punishing those who sexually assaulted them. Contrary to international standards on the right to reparations, discussed in a later section, the Rwandan government has not adopted a reparations policy that would provide assistance to genocide survivors for the human rights abuses of 1994.
Disappointed and frustrated over the failures of mechanisms for legal redress, and faced with socioeconomic difficulties, victims of genocide and post-genocide sexual violence we interviewed were constrained by acute material needs that both directly hindered accountability in the form of criminal prosecution and punishment and heightened their desire for justice in the form of compensation for past abuse that would enable them to meet basic survival needs. The poverty and obstacles to health care faced by genocide survivors in particular underscore the urgency of reparations for the human rights abuses they suffered in 1994. Victims of more recent cases of sexual violence face similar obstacles. For example, M.G., a twenty-year-old student, was raped in late 2003 by a teacher. She filed charges and the alleged rapist was imprisoned for two months, then released. M.G. was pregnant when she spoke to Human Rights Watch and feared that she may be HIV-positive. The nearest HIV testing center is not within walking distance of her home. She cares for a three-year-old sibling and is too weak to farm. Her mothers death and her own pregnancy led her to drop out of school in February 2004, a decision that was very difficult for her because she was eager to pursue her studies. She had also chosen to abandon her legal case. She explained her decision:
I decided to deal with the problems I [now] have . . . I thought about going to [a legal assistance center], but I wanted to be at peace. And that meant sitting for my exams, making sure I dont have HIV/AIDS, and having the baby. And when I think about what happened to me, Im not at peace. It disturbs me.137
She also feared that the stigma of rape would isolate her: Im afraid that the people in the community will think Im a loose girl and that that will cause problems between me and my [older] brother. Although M.G. told Human Rights Watch that she wishes that her rapist be brought to justice, her multiple problemsphysical health, trauma, stigmatization, poverty, burdensome child-care responsibilities, and abandonment of her dreams of an educationhave led her to prioritize her basic survival needs. Another woman, E.G. was gang-raped during the genocide, is now HIV-positive, and cares for six children including one born of the rape and an orphan. Universally, rape victims describe their constant battle to provide for their own and their families material needs, including food, shelter, health care, and education for their children. For rape victims, chief among these needs is access to medical careparticularly voluntary HIV counseling and testing, antiretroviral (ARV) therapy,138 and treatment for opportunistic infections of AIDSand counseling for the sequelae of abuse. As E.G. told Human Rights Watch: I have little children who dont even know that I am sick. . . . It would be good to have drugs, if you could give us drugs.139
Rape victims also suffer the debilitating effects of trauma. Many say that memories of their past lives, and the violence they experienced during the genocide, overwhelm them. In one case, Human Rights Watch interviewed B.R. in the presence of her friend, E.G. Although each woman knew that the other was also a rape victim, they had never related their experiences to each other. Both women cried during long periods of the interview. B.R. told Human Rights Watch, This is our daily existence.140 Weeping, E.G. told Human Rights Watch, We talk of little things when we are together. We arent capable of speaking of [the rape].
Barriers to Access to Health Care
Access to appropriate health care is a primary concern for victims of genocide and post-genocide sexual violence.141 Although conditions were not ideal prior to 1994, the period of genocide and conflict destroyed many existing medical facilities and left serious shortages of medical personnel. Access to care is particularly difficult for the majority rural population, approximately 90 percent of the total population.142 Rwandas twelve provinces count 365 health centers, thirty-three hospitals at the health district level, and five national referral hospitals for more advanced medical care.143 Existing health care centers serve large geographic areas, with an average distance of four miles of rough, hilly terrain separating each site and the population it serves, estimated to be 25,000 people.144 UNICEF estimates that 88 percent of women in Rwanda must walk more than one hour to reach a health care center.145 These limited facilities also have human and material resource deficiencies. According to a May 2003 Rwandan government estimate, there are 300 doctors in the country.146 Nurses and medical assistants, in the absence of doctors, operate most health centers.147 Health centers dispense basic medication, such as aspirin, which is frequently in short supply.148 Those who require medication for more serious conditions must travel to a district or national hospital.149
The case of S.K., who is HIV-positive and lives near Nyamata town, in Kigali-rural province, illustrates the barriers to access to health care. The nearest health center to Nyamata that provides ARV therapy is in Kigali, but the road from Kigali to Nyamata is rutted with holes. For a person who is weak or ill, it is practically impassable by foot. S.K., who was gang-raped in the presence of her infant son, suffered continuous vaginal bleeding in the months after the attack. She continues to have acute pain due to an apparent uterine prolapse.150 She did not have the means to obtain medical treatment until 1997. Upon discovering that she was HIV-positive, doctors refused to operate to remove her uterus, on the basis that her HIV status would not allow her to heal. She has repeatedly asked a survivors organization of which she is a member to provide her with ARV medication. She told Human Rights Watch, Every day, I tell them, but they say to me, We havent found any drugs yet, . . . So I tell them, By the time you get them, I will be dead.151 F.N., another rural resident, suffered individual and gang-rapes on multiple occasions, at times under the direction of the mayor of Taba commune Jean-Paul Akayesu, who was convicted of genocide and other crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1998.152 She bore and kept a child from the rape. When asked about her access to trauma counseling, she explained to Human Rights Watch: Before, AVEGA [Association of Widows of the April Genocide] was able to help us, but now we have to travel to Kigali to meet with counselors. Now, there is none where we live.
In addition to insufficient and underresourced facilities, poverty is a major barrier to access to health care in Rwanda. Genocide survivors who demonstrate financial need may qualify for health, education, and housing benefits from the National Assistance Fund (Fonds dassistance aux rescapés du génocide, FARG), established in 1998 and funded by 5 percent of the state budget.153 However, to seek medical care, women and girls must sacrifice time from subsistence agriculture or other work, as well as household and child-care responsibilities. Moreover, they must pay for public transportation to reach a health care center, and once they arrive, they must pay for the necessary services and medication, unless they qualify for assistance under the FARG program. D.K., who was extremely weak with AIDS and visibly traumatized at the time of our interview, is a widow who lost most of her family in the genocide. She lives with one daughter and her grandchildren. She told Human Rights Watch:
[A social worker]. . . gave us tickets [for bus service to a health facility]. But at one point, we couldnt get any more tickets. They told us that once we start taking the [ARV medication], we shouldnt stop, but the place where we get them, its far away, and we couldnt keep going.154
As the director of social services at a survivors organization pointed out, There are more gaps than there are opportunities because . . . those in need of assistance are spread out. While there are many programs available to city residents, those in distant districts suffer.155 Additionally, even if a person is able to afford medication and consultation fees, poverty hampers proper treatment because those who are ill require adequate nourishment to be able to tolerate medication, particularly potent ARV therapy.
Further, dire economic conditions impede recovery from the psychological scars of rape. A former rape counselor, who left counseling to found an agricultural cooperative for women, described to Human Rights Watch the desperate situation of most sexual violence victims: I realized that poverty was the underlying problem. You cant counsel someone who has not eaten.156 With respect to rape victims attitudes toward legal redress, she acknowledged that criminal prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators is important to them but said:
Even in counseling work, the counseling itself is the last part. [You] must start by sensitizing, educating people about their rights, their problems. They want other needs met first before counseling. People have priorities.157
Special Needs of Women Who Contracted HIV from Genocide Sexual Violence
The health care situation is most dire for people living with HIV/AIDS, such as women and girls who now face certain death because they contracted HIV as a result of rape that occurred during or since the genocide. Like others living with HIV, women suffer physical weakness, susceptibility to a wide range of illnesses, and depression.158 The stigma associated with the disease affects HIV-positive women more acutely than men. During the genocide, O.H., a resident of Gitarama province, was abducted by eight neighbors, who then raped her.159 She is now HIV-positive and has been rejected by her brother and sister, who blamed her for the rape and refuse to touch her for fear they will contract HIV. O.H. complained to Human Rights Watch that she had little to eat and that she had been evicted from fourteen houses, each time after the owner learned that she was HIV-positive. As she explained to Human Rights Watch, My only wish . . . is to have a place to leave my children when I die, to find someone to take care of them.160 Similarly, D.K. told Human Rights Watch, The drugs have not reached us, so people look only to God. But if only there was a way for my child to continue school after I am gone . . .161
Although it is rarely possible to confirm a clear causal link between the abuse and the transmission of the virus, it is likely that many cases of HIV infection resulted from sexual violence. Several women whom Human Rights Watch interviewed who were raped during and since the genocide identified themselves as HIV-positive.162 In addition, numerous NGO representatives described cases of HIV-positive victims of genocide sexual violence to whom they provided counseling or other assistance, emphasizing that a large number of these women were gravely ill or had died in the years since the genocide.163 Many of the women struggle desperately to feed themselves and their children, who may include children from the rape as well as genocide or AIDS orphans they have adopted.
There are multiple obstacles to medical or psychological assistance for persons living with HIV/AIDS. The profound stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, fear that they will test positive, and lasting trauma resulting from the sexual violence discourage women and girls from being tested for HIV and seeking help.164 Many NGO representatives further underscored that HIV-positive women and girls are ill-informed and rightly confused about how to obtain access to ARV therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections of AIDS. They added that NGOs are unable to meet the demand for treatment.165 FARG finances treatment for ordinary illnesses, including opportunistic infections resulting from HIV/AIDS, but does not subsidize ARV therapy. Government officials explained to Human Rights Watch that another government program provides free or subsidized ARV therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections of AIDS for indigent or low-income Rwandans,166 but many HIV-positive women Human Rights Watch interviewed were not aware of the existence of the plan or the procedure for obtaining assistance.
The case of E.M. is illustrative. A resident of Gitarama province who was raped repeatedly by a group of Interahamwe in April 1994, she has four children and has tested HIV-positive. She told Human Rights Watch, HIV-positive women who have money simply pay for ARV drugs, but other women cant.167 In a new public-private extension of the governments existing HIV/AIDS-treatment program, five Rwandan NGOs, advised by foreign experts and supported by the Rwandan government, plan to provide on-site voluntary HIV counseling and testing, ARV treatment, and trauma counseling.168 The aim is to encourage women, particularly survivors of sexual violence, to seek HIV testing and care. A pilot program in public health centers was launched in late June 2004, and on-site treatment in the NGOs will begin in October 2004.169
The desperate economic and health conditions of rape survivors must be considered in conjunction with the barriers to legal redress, the focus of this report. Women and girls face further stigma and trauma when they seek accountability for sexual violence through the criminal justice process. Moreover, persistent poverty and ill-health not only distract from rape victims desire for legal remedy in the form of criminal prosecution and punishment, but also clearly contribute to the twin challenges of social marginalization and emotional distress. The urgency of rape victims physical and mental health situation highlight the importance of reparations, an equally essential aspect of legal redress, for the human rights abuse suffered by genocide survivors.
 International Crisis Group, Five Years After the Genocide: Justice in Question, ICG Report Rwanda No. 1, April 7, 1999, p. 34.
 Human Rights First (formerly The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), Prosecuting Genocide in Rwanda: A Human Rights First Report on the ICTR and National Trials, July 1997, [online] at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pubs/descriptions/rwanda.htm (retrieved April 20, 2004).
 At the next level sit four Courts of Appeal, in Kigali, Nyabisindu, Cyangugu, and Ruhengeri. The Supreme Court, at the highest level, is composed of six sections including the Court of Cassation, the final appeals court for the cases originating in the Tribunals of First Instance. Below the Tribunals of First Instance are the canton courts, with jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal cases.
 Organic Law of 30 August 1996 on the Organization of the Prosecution of Offences Constituting the Crime of Genocide or Crimes Against Humanity (Genocide Law), Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, September 1, 1996, art. 19.
 Law N° 09/2000 of 16/06/2000 on the Establishment, General Organization and Jurisdiction of the National Police, Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, June 29, 2000.
 Genocide Law, art. 2.
 Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances as inherently cruel and as a violation of the right to life and of the fundamental dignity of all human beings.
 Amnesty International, Gacaca: A Question of Justice (London: Amnesty International, 2002), p. 1.
 The present gacaca courts, with comprehensive procedural powers to prosecute and punish genocide crimes, substantially depart from traditional gacaca, a more informal dispute resolution mechanism. Penal Reform International (PRI), Interim Report on Research on Gacaca Jurisdictions and its Preparations (July-December 2001), Kigali, 2001, p. 8.
 This alteration, discussed further in a later section of this report, violates the norm of non-retroactivity of the law. Rwandan law does not define the terms rape, sexual torture, or torture. Organic Law N°40/2000 of 26/01/2001 Setting Up Gacaca Jurisdictions and Organizing Prosecutions for Offences Constituting the Crime of Genocide or Crimes Against Humanity Committed between October 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994 [2001 Gacaca Law], Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, March 15, 2001, art. 51.
 Ibid. See also PRI, Gacaca Courts in Rwanda, [online] at http://www.penalreform.org/english/theme_gacaca.htm (retrieved April 20, 2004).
 For a description of these stages, see Amnesty International, Gacaca: A Question of Justice (London: Amnesty International, 2002), p. 27.
 PRI, PRI Research Team on Gacaca, Report III: April-June 2002, p. 6.
 National Gacaca Office, Document sur lEtat dAvancement des Activités des Juridictions Gacaca des cellules opérationnelles et programmes dactivités à venir [Progress Report of Gacaca Court Proceedings in Operational Cells and Program for Forthcoming Activities], January 2004, p. 1.
 Factors include the priority given to cultivation, household, and other responsibilities; lack of faith or interest in the gacaca process, particularly on the part of those who were victims of RPA crimes, which the Rwandan government has excluded from the mandate of gacaca courts; or fear that participation in gacaca will lead to reprisals by the accused or his or her family.
 See National Gacaca Office, Les Problèmes Constatés dans le Fonctionnement des Juridictions Gacaca Qui Ont Terminé Leur 7ème Réunion [Difficulties Observed in the Operation of Gacaca Courts Having Completed the Seventh Stage], January 21, 2004; LIPRODHOR, Situation des Droits de la Personne au Rwanda en 2002: Rapport Annuel de la LIPRODHOR [Situation of Human Rights in Rwanda in 2002: Annual Report of LIPRODHOR] (Kigali: June 2003), p. 64. Three people were killed in Gikongoro province in October-December 2003. As of late May 2004, one of the three cases had been confirmed to be an attack against a gacaca witness. Rwanda: Genocide Survivor Group Denounces Killings, Harassment, U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), December 16, 2003; Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de lHomme (CLADHO), Déclaration du Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de lHomme (CLADHO) sur la Sécurité des Témoins dans le Processus Gacaca, [Statement of CLADHO on the Security of Witnesses in the Gacaca Process], Press Release, January 12, 2004, [online] at http://survie67.free.fr/Rwanda/CLADHO/Kaduha.htm (retrieved April 5, 2004).
 PRI, Interim Report, p. 6.
 Organic Law Nº16/2004 of 19/6/2004 Establishing the Organisation, Competence and Functioning of Gacaca Courts Charged with Prosecuting and Trying the Perpetrators of the Crime of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, Committed Between October 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994, Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, June 19, 2004 [2004 Gacaca Law], arts. 55 and 72.
 Office of the Prosecutor, Supreme Court of Rwanda, Instruction concernant lexecution du communiqué présidentiel du 01 janvier 2003 venant de la présidence de la république qui concerne la libération provisoire des détenus des différentes catégories [Directive Concerning Implementation of the Presidential Statement of 1 January 2003 on the Provisional Release of Different Categories of Prisoners], January 9, 2003; PRI, Research on the Gacaca: Report V (Kigali: PRI, 2003), p. 12. The deadline for submission of confessions was most recently extended from March 15, 2004 to March 15, 2005]. Arther Asiimwe, Genocide Confession Deadline Extended, East African, March 29, 2004, [online] at http://allafrica.com/stories/200403300841.html (retrieved April 5, 2004).
 In principle, persons accused of rape, as category one offenders, are not eligible for provisional release. However, such individuals may be released if they were never formally accused of, and did not subsequently confess to rape or sexual torture. In certain cases in which sexual violence survivors did report the crime, alleged rapists were freed because authorities failed to file rape charges in response to victims reports. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine why authorities did not register the rape charges in these cases.
 Human Rights Watch interview with B.R., Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with I.B., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 18, 2004.
 Six of our interviewees were below the age of eighteen at the time of the rape. Only one case involved a victim who, at the age of seven, was still a child at the time of our research. We interviewed the mother of the victim.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, March 30, 2004. This figure refers to the number of accused persons that have been tried rather than the total number of trials. Most trials involve multiple defendants.
 These sources include: more than two hundred decisions in genocide trials (December 1996-December 2003) conducted in the specialized chambers of the Tribunals of First Instance of Butare, Gitarama, and the city of Kigali, reviewed by Human Rights Watch researchers during visits to the Tribunals of First Instance in Butare and Gitarama and the Office of the Prosecutor in Kigali; 853 decisions in genocide trials (December 1996-March 2003) conducted in the Tribunals of First Instance in all provinces and the city of Kigali and in military courts, a collection compiled by Lawyers without Borders-Belgium and generously shared with the Human Rights Watch research team; and information on specific cases from local NGO colleagues.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Gitarama town, March 5, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview, Butare town, March 2, 2004.
 One indictment did not specify whether one or both defendants were charged with rape. If both were in fact charged with rape, the number of defendants would rise to fifty-two. In all sexual violence cases reviewed by Human Rights Watch, the indictments combined rape or sexual torture with other charges, such as murder or looting. An NGO representative described attending a trial in December 2003 at the Tribunal of First Instance of Nyamata in which the defendant was charged solely with sexual violence. Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 19, 2004. This was the sole such case we documented in the course of our research. Mixed indictments make it even more difficult to identify the rare cases involving sexual violence.
 In 2000, Lawyers without Borders, a Belgian NGO, reviewed the cases of 1,051 persons tried on charges of genocide or related crimes in 1999, including approximately 176 cases shared with and later examined by Human Rights Watch, and found that forty-nine persons were prosecuted for rape or sexual torture, nine of whom were convicted of some form of sexual violence.
 Tribunal de Première Instance de Gitarama [Tribunal of First Instance of Gitarama], Ministère Public contre Musonera [Prosecutor v. Musonera], R.P. 09/Git/Ch.S/1/97, August 4, 1998; Tribunal de Première Instance de Gitarama [Tribunal of First Instance of Gitarama], Ministère Public contre Ndahayo [Prosecutor v. Ndahayo], R.P. 42/GIT/CH.S/1/98, March 31, 1999;Tribunal de Première Instance de Gitarama [Tribunal of First Instance of Gitarama], Ministère Public contre Ndahimana [Prosecutor v. Ndahimana], R.P. 133/GIT/5/2001, July 5, 2002; Conseil de Guerre de la République Rwandaise Siégeant à Mugina (Gitarama) [Military Council of the Republic of Rwanda Presiding at Mugina (Gitarama)], Ministère Public contre le Caporal Kayitsinga [Prosecutor v. Corporal Kayitsinga], R.P. 0051/CG/00, September 24, 2001.
 Human Rights Watch interview, Gitarama town, March 5, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, March 3, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Y.K., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview with F.N., Kigali, February 18, 2004; and Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 16, 2004.
 Manuel explicatif sur la loi organique portant création des juridictions gacaca, p. 16.
 According to B.R., one of the released detainees whom she alleges raped her during the genocide frequently quarrels with her mother, who has accused him of stealing her crops. Human Rights Watch interview with B.R., Kigali, February 24, 2004. B.R. also expressed fear in relation to the killings in Gikongoro province, which she understood to be attacks against gacaca witnesses.
 Manuel explicatif sur la loi organique portant création des juridictions gacaca, p. 55.
 Ibid., pp. 88-89.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with NGO representatives, Kigali, February 9-19, 2004; Human Rights Watch interviews with local and national gacaca offiicals, Kigali and Butare town, February 6-26, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with local and national gacaca officials, Kigali, March 1-3, 2004. By January 2004, a total of 758 cell-level gacaca courts had commenced proceedings. National Gacaca Office, Document sur lEtat dAvancement des Activités des Juridictions Gacaca, p. 1. The figure cited above, 581, excludes courts in the provinces of Kibungo and Kigali-rural, for which statistics on rape cases were unavailable. Ibid., p. 4.
 Similarly, several victims of genocide sexual violence interviewed by a lawyer in Kibuye province reported that one or more of their rapists were unidentifiable, unable to be located, or had since died. Email message from lawyer, Kigali, to Human Rights Watch, April 8, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with J.B., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with W.K., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 PRI, Interim Report, p. 39.
 Human Rights Watch interview with C.M., February 29, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with J.T., February 28, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with S.I., Kanzenzi district, February 22, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with E.T., Gitarama town, February 19, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with C.H., Kigarama district, Kibungo province, March 3, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with W.K., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 Representatives of survivors organizations maintain regular contact with a large number of genocide rape victims and confirmed that these concerns discourage genocide rape victims from reporting the abuse. Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 9, 2004. Judicial and gacaca officials echoed these views. Human Rights Watch interview with senior and local government officials, Kigali and Gitarama town, February 6, 2004-March 3, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with E.G., Kigali, February 18, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Y.K., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Espérance Nyirasafari, prosecutor for Gitarama province, Gitarama town, February 19, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with counselor, Kigali, February 10, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 15, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, and Kigarama district, Kibungo province, February 18-March 3, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 9, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with D.K., Kamonyi district, Gitarama province, February 13, 2004.
 PRI, Research on the Gacaca: Report V (Kigali: September 2003), p. 9; LIPRODHOR, Juridictions Gacaca: Potentialités et Lacunes Révélées par les Débuts (Kigali: July 2003), pp. 40-42.
 PRI, Interim Report, July p. 51.
 Manuel explicatif sur la loi organique portant création des juridictions Gacaca, pp. 88-89.
 2004 Gacaca Law, art. 38.
 Human Rights Watch interview with C.M., February 29, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with D.T., Butare town, March 2, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with A.G., Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with G.N., February 28, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with C.M., February 29, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with J.T., February 28, 2004.
 See Shattered Lives, p. 39.
 Human Rights Watch interview with I.B., Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 23, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with G.R., Kigali, February 19, 2004.
 Email message from NGO representative, Kigali, to Human Rights Watch, March 31, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with NGO representative, Kigali, April 15, 2004.
 Code pénal [Rwandan Penal Code], art. 360.
 Ibid., art. 316.
 Martien Schotsmans also highlighted this problem in her review of genocide rape judgments. See Schotsmans (Lawyers without Borders), Le Droit à la Réparation des Victimes de Violences Sexuelles, pp. 8,13-14.
 See Florence Mukamugema, La Femme rwandaise et les événements de 1994, in (Jacques Fierens, ed.), Femmes et génocide: le cas rwandais (Bruxelles: Faculté de droit des Facultés univesitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix, 2003) (discussing judgments of the Tribunal of First Instance of Byumba), pp. 96-98.
 See Tribunal de Première Instance de Butare [Tribunal of First Instance of Butare], Ministère Public contre Harindintwali et consorts [Prosecutor v. Harindintwali et al.], R.P. 40.254/S8/G.L.J./R.L, Octobre 22, 1997; Tribunal de Première Instance de Kibuye [Tribunal of First Instance of Kibuye], Ministère Public contre Ntibimenya et consorts [Prosecutor v. Ntibimenya et al.], R.P. Ch. Sp. A6/01/98, June 30, 1999; Tribunal de Première Instance de Byumba [Tribunal of First Instance of Byumba], Ministère Public contre Rwiyegura et consorts [Prosecutor v. Rwiyegura et al.], R.P. 050/I/CSP/99/By (cited in Mukamugema, p. 96).
 Human Rights Watch interview with HIV/AIDS counselor, Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 Rwandan human rights advocates reacted differently to the issue of sexual violence against adult women. Several acknowledged its incidence and even drew attention to the problem of marital rape. Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Gisenyi town, February 28, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Butare town, February 25, 2004. Others tended to downplay the victimization of adult women. Human Rights Watch interview with local NGO coordinators, Gisenyi town, February 28, 2004. One prominent womens rights activist in Kigali highlighted the rape of very young girls, while noting that adolescent girls can take care of themselves. Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 27, 2004.
 Article 1 of the Child Protection Law defines a child for purposes of the law as a person under the age of eighteen. Law N° 27/2001 of 28/0402001 Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child against Violence [Child Protection Law], Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, December 1, 2001, art. 1.
 The Rwandan Civil Code sets the age of majority at twenty-one. Civil Code, Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, October 27, 1988, art. 431.
 Tribunal de Première Instance de Butare [Tribunal of First Instance of Butare], Ministère Public contre Habarugira [Prosecutor v. Habarugira], R.P. 29295/70, October 27, 2000.
 Human Rights Watch interview with the attorney general of Rwanda, police officials, and a provincial prosecutor, Kigali and Gitarama town, February 9-March 5, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Straton Nsengiyumva, prosecutor for Gisenyi province, Gisenyi town, March 1, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Sylvère Gatambiye, prosecutor for city of Kigali, Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 This is in reference to the Tribunals of First Instance. Interviewees filed these complaints prior to the commencement of gacaca.
 Lawyers without Borders, Justice Pour Tous au Rwanda: Rapport Annuel 1998 [Justice for All in Rwanda: Annual Report 1998], p. 6 [online] athttp://www.asf.be/FR/Texte/Terrain/Rwanda/ASF.terrain.RWA.rapport%201998.pdf (retrieved May 14, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali and Ntongwe district, Gitarama province, February 18-24, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with B.R., Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 Tribunal de Première Instance de Byumba [Tribunal of First Instance of Byumba], Ministère Public contre Karangwa et consorts [Prosecutor v. Karangwa et al.], R.P. 025/I/C.SP/98/BY, June 5, 1998; Cour Militaire de la République Rwandaise [Military Court of the Republic of Rwanda], Chambre Spécialisée Siégeant à Nyamirambo [Specialized Chamber Presiding at Nyamirambo], Auditorat Militaire Général contre Adjudant Chef Rekeraho et Caporal Kamanayo [Military Prosecutor v. Chief Officer Rekeraho and Corporal Kamanayo], RPA 0012/CM-CS/KGL/2000, November 15, 2000; Chambre Spécialisée du Conseil de Guerre Siégeant à Gisenyi [Specialized Chamber of the Military Council Presiding at Gisenyi], Auditorat Militaire contre Sous-lieutenant Eustache Dusabeyezu [Military Prosecutor v. Second Lieutenant Eustache Dusabeyezu], December 22, 1998.
 Human Rights Watch interview with M.K., Kigali, February 19, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with M.G., Nyamure district, Butare province, February 26, 2004.
 Antiretroviral (ARV) medication, which delays the replication of HIV and weakening of the immune system of a person living with HIV/AIDS, prolongs survival and enhances quality of life. World Health Organization, Antiretroviral therapy, [online] at http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/arv/en/#what (retrieved April 24, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with E.G., Kigali, February 18, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with B.R., Kigali, February 24, 2004.
 For a comprehensive examination of the health, social, and legal situation of genocide rape survivors, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, see Amnesty International, Marked for Death and African Rights, Broken Bodies, Torn Spirits.
 World Bank, Rwanda Country Assistance Evaluation, Report No. 27568-RW, January 5, 2004, p. 4 [online[ at http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/01/30/000012009_20040130101822/Rendered/PDF/275680RW.pdf (retrieved April 27, 2004).
 Government of Rwanda/William J. Clinton Foundation, HIV/AIDS Treatment and Care Plan, 2003-2007, Developed with the William J. Clinton Foundation [Clinton Plan] (May 2003), pp. 8-9, [online] at http://www.usaid-rwanda.rw/SO2/RwandaDoc05.07.03.pdf (retrieved April 27, 2004).
 Ibid.; Clinton Plan, p. 9.
 UNICEF, Rwanda: Facts and Figures, [online] at http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/20289_20292.html (retrieved April 23, 2004).
 Clinton Plan, p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 10.
 Ibid., p. 9.
 The uterus is supported by connective tissue, muscle, and special ligaments. In a uterine prolapse, trauma that weakens these ligaments causes the uterus to descend into the vaginal canal.
 Human Rights Watch interview with S.K., Kanzenzi district, Kigali-rural province, February 20, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with F.N., Kigali, February 18, 2004. In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) convicted Akayesu of nine counts of genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity, including rape as genocide and as a crime against humanity, on the grounds that he directed and encouraged widespread acts of sexual violence in Taba district, Gitarama province. The Akayesu decision was the first verdict handed down by the ICTR, the first conviction for genocide by an international court, the first time an international court has punished sexual violence in a civil war, and the first time that rape was found to be an act of genocide to destroy a group.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Adonata Ukundagusaba, representative of FARG, Kigali, February 13, 2004; Law N°11/98 of 2 November 1998 Amending and Completing the Law N°02/98 of 22/01/98 Establishing a National Assistance Fund for the Neediest Victims of Genocide and Massacres Committed in Rwanda between October 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994, Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, November 2, 1998, art. 1.
 Human Rights Watch interview with D.K., Kamonyi district, Gitarama province, February 13, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 9, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with former trauma counselor, Kigali, February 10, 2004. Men have since joined the farming cooperative, which has expanded its mandate to counsel members on such issues as: sexual violence, including polygyny; HIV/AIDS; participation in gacaca; and the release of detainees. Ibid.
 The African Rights report documents in detail the daily trials of rape survivors who are now HIV-positive or suffering from other medical problems. See African Rights, Broken Bodies, Torn Spirits, pp. 30-46.
 Human Rights Watch interview with O.H., Gitarama town, February 19, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with D.K., Kamonyi district, Gitarama, February 13, 2004.
 Several victims of genocide sexual violence interviewed by a lawyer in Kibuye province also reported that they were HIV-positive. Email message from lawyer, Kigali, to Human Rights Watch, April 8, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representatives and trauma counselor, Kigali, February 6-10, 2004
 See African Rights, Broken Bodies, Torn Spirits, pp. 47-50.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 24, 2004; Human Rights Watch with HIV/AIDS counselor, Kigali, February 24, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Kigali, February 9, 2004.
 Under this plan the government fully funds medication, including ARV therapy, and medical exams for persons with a CD4 count below 250 and whose income falls below 50,000 Rwandan francs (U.S.$85.03) per month and per family. Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Agnès Binagwaho, executive secretary, National AIDS Commission, Kigali, March 3, 2004. Persons earning higher income must pay a proportion of treatment fees, with the smallest contribution being 5,000 Rwandan francs (U.S.$8.50) per month. There is a sizeable gap, however, between those who require ARV therapy and those who are currently receiving it. The Rwandan government estimates that approximately 75,000 Rwandans are in need of ARV therapy. Email from international NGO representative to Human Rights Watch, Kigali, June 1, 2004. According to an international NGO representative, however, approximately 3,524 Rwandans were being treated with ARV medication as of early June 2004. Ibid.
 Human Rights Watch interview with E.M., Ntongwe district, February 23, 2004.
 Womens Equity in Access to Care and Treatment: A Global HIV/AIDS Initiative (WE-ACTx), Rwandan Widows Treatment Access Initiative: Proposal for Multipart Access and Research Programs, Executive Summary, April 2004; Email message from Anne-Christine dAdesky, executive director, WE-ACTx, San Francisco, to Human Rights Watch, June 14, 2004; Email message from Celina Schocken, Country Director in Rwanda for the Center for Global Health and Economic Development (Columbia University) and advisor to the Rwandan government on HIV/AIDS, Kigali, to Human Rights Watch, May 3, 2004. See also WE-ACTx, available at www.we-actx.org.
 The pilot program will operate in public health centers in Kigali, Butare, and Gitarama until on-site facilities in the five organizations have been appropriately equipped for service delivery. The organizations have various mandates (namely to assist female genocide survivors, provide trauma counseling, and facilitate access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS) but were selected for the project because they interact with and provide care to women who were raped during the genocide. The Rwandan Ministry of Healths Treatment and Research in AIDS Center (TRAC) will train participating physicians, nurses, trauma counselors, and social workers. In the first two years, Rwandan health providers and foreign physicians will work together to deliver services. HIV-positive women who are members of the womens organizations will be trained as peer counselors to undertake treatment education, literacy, and outreach.