On this day in 1994, Jean Kambanda became the Prime Minister of Rwanda (April 9, 1994 â€“ July 19, 1994). During his 100-day campaign, he incited genocide on the radio when he announced, “Genocide is justified in the fight against the enemy.” He became the first head of state to plead guilty to genocide since the adoption of the Genocide Convention and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). His sentence was upheld on appeal. Prosecutor v. Kambanda, ICTR-97-23-A, October, 19, 2000. He currently is in prison in Bamako Central Prison, Mali.
In memory of those known and unknown who died . . .
Jean Kambanda admitted his guilt to six counts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, crime against humanity (murder), and crime against humanity (extermination) in a plea agreement with the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). He signed the plea agreement on April 28, 1998. Below is an excerpt of the summarized details from the plea agreement, as given in the official English version of the Trial Court’s judgment.
“Plea Agreement between Jean Kambanda and the OTP”,
signed by Jean Kambanda and his defence counsel, Oliver Michael Inglis, on 28
April 1998, in which Jean Kambanda makes full admissions of all the relevant
facts alleged in the indictment. In particular:-
(i) Jean Kambanda admits that there was in Rwanda in 1994 a widespread and
systematic attack against the civilian population of Tutsi, the purpose of
which was to exterminate them. Mass killings of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi
occurred in Rwanda, including women and children, old and young who were pursued
and killed at places where they had sought refuge i.e. prefectures, commune
offices, schools, churches and stadiums.
(ii) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that as Prime Minister of the Interim Government
of Rwanda from 8 April 1994 to 17 July 1994, he was head of the 20 member
Council of Ministers and exercised de jure authority and control over
the members of his government. The government determined and controlled national
policy and had the administration and armed forces at its disposal. As Prime
Minister, he also exercised de jure and de facto authority over senior
civil servants and senior officers in the military.
(iii) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that he participated in meetings of the
Council of Ministers, cabinet meetings and meetings of prefets where
the course of massacres were actively followed, but no action was taken to
stop them. He was involved in the decision of the government for visits by
designated ministers to prefectures as part of the government=s security efforts
and in order to call on the civilian population to be vigilant in detecting
the enemy and its accomplices. Jean Kambanda also acknowledges participation
in the dismissal of the prefet of Butare because the latter had opposed
the massacres and the appointment of a new prefet to ensure the spread
of massacre of Tutsi in Butare.
(iv) Jean Kambanda acknowledges his participation in a high level security
meeting at Gitarama in April 1994 between the President, T. Sindikubwabo,
himself and the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and others,
which discussed FAR=s support in the fight against the Rwandan Patriotic Front
(RPF) and its “accomplices”, understood to be the Tutsi and Moderate
(v) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that he issued the Directive on Civil Defence
addressed to the prefets on 25 May 1994 (Directive No. 024-0273, disseminated
on 8 June 1994). Jean Kambanda further admits that this directive encouraged
and reinforced the Interahamwe who were committing mass killings of
the Tutsi civilian population in the prefectures. Jean Kambanda further acknowledges
that by this directive the Government assumed the responsibility for the actions
of the Interahamwe.
(vi) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that before 6 April 1994, political parties
in concert with the Rwanda Armed Forces organized and began the military training
of the youth wings of the MRND and CDR political parties (Interahamwe and
Impuzamugambi respectively) with the intent to use them in the massacres that
ensued. Furthermore, Jean Kambanda acknowledges that the Government headed
by him distributed arms and ammunition to these groups. Additionally, Jean
Kambanda confirms that roadblocks manned by mixed patrols of the Rwandan Armed
Forces and the Interahamwe were set up in Kigali and elsewhere as soon as
the death of President J.B. Habyarimana was announced on the Radio. Furthermore
Jean Kambanda acknowledges the use of the media as part of the plan to mobilize
and incite the population to commit massacres of the civilian Tutsi population.
That apart, Jean Kambanda acknowledges the existence of groups within military,
militia, and political structures which had planned the elimination of the
Tutsi and Hutu political opponents.
(vii) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that, on or about 21 June 1994, in his capacity
as Prime Minister, he gave clear support to Radio Television Libre des Mille
Collines (RTLM), with the knowledge that it was a radio station whose broadcasts
incited killing, the commission of serious bodily or mental harm to, and persecution
of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. On this occasion, speaking on this radio station,
Jean Kambanda, as Prime Minister, encouraged the RTLM to continue to incite
the massacres of the Tutsi civilian population, specifically stating that
this radio station was “an indispensable weapon in the fight against
(viii) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that following numerous meetings of the
Council of Ministers between 8 April 1994 and 17 July 1994, he as Prime Minister,
instigated, aided and abetted the Prefets, Bourgmestres, and members
of the population to commit massacres and killings of civilians, in particular
Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Furthermore, between 24 April 1994 and 17 July 1994,
Jean Kambanda and Ministers of his Government visited several prefectures,
such as Butare, Gitarama (Nyabikenke), Gikongoro, Gisenyi and Kibuye to incite
and encourage the population to commit these massacres including by congratulating
the people who had committed these killings.
(ix) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that on 3 May 1994, he was personally asked
totake steps to protect children who had survived the massacre at a hospital
and he did not respond. On the same day, after the meeting, the children were
killed. He acknowledges that he failed in his duty to ensure the safety of
the children and the population of Rwanda.
(x) Jean Kambanda admits that in his particular role of making public engagements
in the name of the government, he addressed public meetings, and the media,
at various places in Rwanda directly and publicly inciting the population
to commit acts of violence against Tutsi and moderate Hutu. He acknowledges
uttering the incendiary phrase which was subsequently repeatedly broadcast,
“you refuse to give your blood to your country and the dogs drink it
for nothing.” (Wima igihugu amaraso imbwa zikayanywera ubusa)
(xi) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that he ordered the setting up of roadblocks
with the knowledge that these roadblocks were used to identify Tutsi for elimination,
and that as Prime Minister he participated in the distribution of arms and
ammunition to members of political parties, militias and the population knowing
that these weapons would be used in the perpetration of massacres of civilian
(xii) Jean Kambanda acknowledges that he knew or should have known that persons
for whom he was responsible were committing crimes of massacre upon Tutsi
and that he failed to prevent them or punish the perpetrators. Jean Kambanda
admits that he was an eye witness to the massacres of Tutsi and also had knowledge
of them from regular reports of prefets, and cabinet discussions.
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
- Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Keywords: Genocide, Itsembabwoko