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October 23, 2000

Rwanda Media Trial Opens

The issue of free speech rights was at the heart of the Rwanda “Media Trial,” proceedings responsible for prosecuting members of media involved in the 1994 genocide. In 1997, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted three Rwandans for “incitement to genocide”: Hassan Ngeze, who founded, published, and edited Kangura (Wake Others Up!), a Hutu-owned tabloid that in the months preceding the genocide published vitriolic articles dehumanizing the Tutsi as inyenzi (cockroaches), though never called directly for killing them; and Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, founders of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a radio station that indirectly and directly called for murder, even at times to the point of providing the names and locations of those to be killed. In December 2003, the ICTR handed down its verdict, convicting Ngeze and Nahimana of direct and public incitement to genocide, and Barayagwiza of instigating the perpetration of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

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