Monthly Archives: February 2014

courThe 1994 genocide of nearly a million persons in Rwanda will be the subject of a trial beginning today before 6 jurors and 3 judges in the Paris Cour d’assises, or criminal court.

Charged with taking part in killings as part of an escadron de la mort, or death squad, is Pascal Simbikangwa, a 54-year-old man said to have been head of central intelligence and part of the inner circle of Juvénal Habyarimana, the Rwandan President whose April 6, 1994, death in a plane crash precipitated the genocide. The trial will involve testimony by historians, among other witnesses, and is set to be filmed in its entirety.

Le Monde‘s Stéphanie Maupas reported yesterday that this marks the 1st such trial in France, a country whose own behavior in Rwanda has been questioned. (And see here.) French authorities arrested Simbikangwa for trafficking in false papers in 2008 and subsequently refused the Rwandan government’s extradition request. A similar trial in Canada of another defendant ended last year in an acquittal; meanwhile, Belgium has convicted several such defendants in a series of trials.

Maupas’ report (available here and here) ended on a reflective note:

Le verdict devrait tomber mi-mars, juste avant les 20 ans du génocide. Vingt années durant lesquelles la France a été accusée d’offrir un exil confortable aux acteurs du génocide. Au-delà de l’histoire d’un homme, passible de la perpétuité, ce procès sera aussi le miroir des relations franco-rwandaises.

that is,

The verdict could come in mid-March, just before the twentieth anniversary of the genocide. Twenty years during which France has been accused of offering comfortable exile to génocidaires. In addition to the story of one man on trial for his life, this trial will also serve as a mirror of French-Rwandan relations.

statueIn anticipation of the 100th anniversary of women’s formal entry into the British legal profession, two scholars invite others to join them in a Women’s Legal Landmarks Project.

This multiyear project aims to produce, via a series of workshops to be held in Britain and Ireland, 1,000-to-6,000-word essays on women’s achievements in the law. An excerpt from the call for interest produced by the organizers, Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, University of Reading School of Law, and Professor Erika Rackley, Durham Law School:

‘[T]his project aims to bring together interested feminist scholars to engage in the process of identifying and writing about key legal landmarks for women. These might be one or a series of cases, a statute or campaign, an individual, a monument or event. The landmark must be significant for feminists, even if it only had an impact on a group of women. Indeed, it may not have been positive at the time, yet turned out to be a catalyst for change. The landmark may be well-known or less familiar. We are focusing on legal landmarks in the UK and Ireland and hope to cover a broad range of substantive topics. Our goal is the production of a number of outputs celebrating women’s legal history, reaching both a scholarly and a general audience.

‘Possible landmarks could include: the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864-6; the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens; The Well of Loneliness trial; Williams & Glyn’s Bank v Boland [1981]; S41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act; the appointment of Lady Hale.’

Deadline for 200-word expressions of interest is this Friday, February 7. Details and full call for interest here. (h/t IntLawGrrl Máiréad Enright, University of Kent Law School Lecturer, via her Twitter feed; credit for circa-1930 photo of Pankhurst statue described in passage quoted)