Mr. Jean Paul Akayesu served as the mayor of the Taba commune and was responsible for maintaining law and public order in Taba during the tragic events which took place in Rwanda in 1994. The court held that Mr. Akayesu had knowledge of the killing of thousands of Tutsis in Taba, but did not attempt to prevent such acts even though he had the duty to do so. Moreover, Mr. Akayesu was involved and even took an active role in some instances. In addition, the court held that Mr. Akayesu had knowledge of sexual assaults of civilians who sought refuge at the bureau communal by armed local militia but did not attempt to prevent such acts even though he had the duty to do so. The court found that Mr. Akayesu was guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. On appeal, the Appeal Chambers dismissed Mr. Akayesu claims and upheld the judgment of the court a quo. This case is important because it established for the first time that sexual violence constitutes a crime against humanity and a tool of genocide by a government official. It is also worth noting that the court’s broad definitions of rape and sexual violence were the first of their kind in international law.
Prosecutor v. Akayesu
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda