Mpambara will not be tried in the Netherlands 21 Oct 2008
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has ruled that Dutch courts have no jurisdiction to try Joseph Mpambara for genocide in Rwanda.

The Supreme Court, in The HagueOn 21 October 2008, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, based in The Hague, ruled that Dutch courts have no jurisdiction to try Joseph Mpambara for genocide. Mpambara is a Rwandese asylum seeker who has been accused of having committed war crimes and genocide in Rwanda in 1994. This decision affirms two previous rulings from The Hague District Court in July 2007 and The Hague Court of Appeals in December 2007.


Joseph Mpambara sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1998. In November 2006, he was summoned by the Dutch Public Prosecutor for three counts of murder and torture as war crimes, and in May 2007, he was also summoned for genocide. The Dutch Public Prosecutor founded his jurisdiction on a specific request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to take over the prosecution of the case.


But on 24 July 2007 The Hague District Court decided that the complaint of genocide was inadmissible in this case, where crimes were committed in Rwanda, by Rwandese nationals and with no Dutch nationals among the victims. Prosecution under Dutch criminal law can only take place on the basis of a treaty with a state from which the competence of criminal prosecution in the Netherlands can be derived. On 17 December 2007, The Hague Court of Appeal affirmed this ruling.


On 21 October 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed these two previous decisions, ruling that the above-mentioned request by the Prosecutor of the ICTR to try Joseph Mpambara does not meet the requirements of Article 4a of the Dutch Criminal Code, which states that prosecution can only be allowed when it is requested by a foreign state with whom the Netherlands has signed a treaty foreseeing prosecution. Although this decision means that Mpambara cannot be prosecuted for genocide, the ruling does not affect the prosecution of Joseph Mpambara for war crimes and torture. Mpambara’s trial for these crimes began at The Hague District Court on 13 October 2008 and is ongoing.


Following The Hague District Court’s decision in 2007, the ICTR prosecutor requested the annulment of a decision by the ICTR to transfer Michel Bagaragaza, another Rwandese genocide suspect, to the Netherlands.  At the time, The Hague District Court had acknowledged the existence of a lacuna in Dutch criminal law, recognising the risk of no prosecution at all in cases like this.


Press release


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