Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

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International

  • Prosecutor v. Musema, International, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 2001.
    Musema, the accused, was the director of a tea factory during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and was accused of organizing and taking part in attacks on Tutsi communes. The Trial Chamber found that Musema had taken part in at least four separate attacks, and that he personally participated in a rape and in so doing, had encouraged others to rape the victim. Musema was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Chamber adopted the definition of rape and sexual violence set forth in the landmark Akayesu decision, and further stated that “variations on the acts of rape may include acts which involve the insertions of objects and/or the use of bodily orifices not considered to be intrinsically sexual.” Concurring with the approach set forth in Akayesu, the Chamber stated that the “essence of rape is not the particular details of the body parts and objects involved, but rather the aggression that is expressed in a sexual manner under conditions of coercion.” The Trial Chamber also recognized that due to the ongoing evolution and incorporation of the understanding of rape into principles of international law, “a conceptual definition is preferable to a mechanical definition of rape” because it will “better accommodate evolving norms of criminal justice.” The Judgment against this defendant is notable for defining rape as an element of genocide, as the Akayesu case had done, and also as a crime against humanity.