By Daniel Sabiiti
Rwanda’s Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege has asked Rwandan law students to pursue international humanitarian values for which their country has stood for in protecting abuse of human rights during the genocide against the Tutsi.
Rugege said that Rwanda recognizes the importance of the international humanitarian law even when the international community could not act to stop the dismal genocide which left millions dead.
“Even with our experience of failed international humanitarian law, we choose to stay in the global community and strive for these values so that genocide doesn’t happen elsewhere again. It is important to inculcate these values in the young generation of lawyers” Rugege said.
Rugege made the remarks while officially opening the first Rwanda national moot court competition on international humanitarian law (IHL), sponsored by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Rwandan Red Cross Society at STIPP Hotel, Kigali.
The competition started from October 5th to 6th brought together 4 teams of 12 law students from different law schools across the country where each team will have to play the role of both prosecution and defense in a fictitious war crimes trial.
The winning team will be fully sponsored by the ICRC Delegation in Kigali to represent Rwanda and participate in the All-Africa IHL Moot Court Competition held in Arusha (Tanzania) which brings together the winning teams from across the continent.
Rugege said that the competition experience should be a commitment not only to winning but stand for IHL values and practices in future careers which have to be shared with in the regional and beyond.
“For example, Rwanda has peacekeeping forces in other country in Africa and beyond because we believe that humanitarian laws are important to us, basing on the experience in the past 22 years” Rugege said.
Pascal Cuttat, ICRC head of delegation in Kigali, also said that reason behind sponsoring the moot court competition was to equip Rwandan law students with skills which will make them understand better ways to defend rights of civilians.
Cuttat said that there is an increase in human suffering globally for example in Syria and the IHL should be used to limit the means and methods of those taking part.
“Many students graduate in law without real experience of the reality of conflict. It’s our hope that this competition will increase their knowledge to defend international humanitarian law, which we at ICRC value” Cuttat said.
Some of competition students said that the moot court was a first experience but through research and personal experiences of what happened to Rwanda in 1994, they were more prepared to set an example to other law students in the region.