Surrender of Rwandan to War Crimes Tribunal Sets Precedent
January 24, 2000

Lawyers Committee Applauds Surrender of Rwandan to War Crimes Tribunal
August 5, 1999

Lawyers Committee Urges Surrender of Rwandan to War Crimes Tribunal
March 9, 1999

Lawyers Committee Applauds Surrender of Rwandan To War Crimes Tribunal
August 7, 1998


In the Matter of the Surrender of Elizaphan Ntakirutima
April 24, 1998


Justice in Rwanda
A Crucial Step Toward the Establishment of a Permanent International Criminal Court
in the Fall '97 Advisor

U.S. Undermines War Criminal Effort
by Stefanie Grant
in The New York Times

Prosecuting Genocide
A Lawyers Committee Report on the ICTR and National Trials
July 1997

Ntakirutimana Trial Postponed to April 2002

The International War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda

The case of Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Rwandan charged with genocide in connection with the killings of thousands of members of the Tutsi ethnic minority in the spring of 1994, will set an important domestic precedent regarding the prosecution of international war criminals. Mr. Ntakirutimana is the first person that the United States has been requested to surrender to either of the international criminal tribunals: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Mr. Ntakirutimana, a Hutu and former chief Pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rwanda, was taken into custody in Laredo, Texas in 1996. Two ICTR indictments charge him with genocide and crimes against humanity for his part in the killings of thousands of Tutsis in Mugonero and Bisesero, Rwanda, in the spring of 1994. He has been fighting surrender in the U.S. court system since his arrest.

On January 24, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for U.S. officials to hand over Elizaphan Ntakirutimana to the ICTR. The Court, without comment, refused a request to review a 5th U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling that ordered the surrender of Ntakirutimana. The Circuit Court's ruling in August 1999 upheld a District Court’s decision in August 1998, which overturned the Texas District Court’s decision in December 1987. The Texas District Court argued that surrender would be unconstitutional in the absence of a treaty and that the evidence of genocide was insufficient to establish "probable cause." The U.S. Government then re-filed its request.

In an amicus brief, filed by Debevoise & Plimpton, the Lawyers Committee argued that surrender was not unconstitutional since Congress can properly authorize extradition by statute, and that the judge magistrate had not applied proper standards in concluding there was no "probable cause." Judge Rainey accepted these arguments when he ruled that Ntakirutimana's surrender is constitutional and that the indictments show probable cause to sustain the genocide charges.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for U.S. officials to hand Ntakirutimana over to the ICTR’s detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania.