REDRESS’s new film offers rare glimpse into trial of genocide suspect

The film – available in English and Kinyarwanda – includes exclusive images inside the court.

REDRESS’ work to promote justice and the legal rights of victims of torture is highlighted in the new documentary film of award-winning producer and journalist Fiona Lloyd-Davies.

The Appeal of Joseph M focuses on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and on the case of a genocide suspect in particular, and his role in massacres committed during the genocide.

The films offers a rare opportunity to see the inside work of the appeals court in the Netherlands, as its judges try to establish if Joseph M was responsible for war crimes that took place in 1994 in a country as far away from them as Rwanda. The lead prosecutor and the investigator in charge of the case recount their experiences in carrying out investigations in Europe and on the ground in Rwanda.

The film includes exclusive images inside the court of two survivors as they are making statements before the judges. Joseph M, a businessman from Mugonero, Rwanda, was convicted of torture in 2009 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but both he and the prosecutor appealed that ruling.

Last July, a Dutch appeals court sentenced him to life imprisonment on war crimes, after the Court established that he was guilty of additional crimes, such as leading an attack on an Adventist compound in which hundreds of Tutsi refugees were butchered. The court also awarded compensation to two survivors.

Joseph M fled Rwanda after the genocide and arrived in the Netherlands with a false passport in 1998. He requested asylum, but his request was denied because of his suspected involvement in the 1994 genocide. The Dutch authorities arrested him in 2006
and his trial began one year later. In prosecuting him, they recognised the severity of the crime and reaffirmed their commitment to prosecute genocide suspects living in the Netherlands.

He was the first Rwandan to be condemned in the Netherlands for crimes during the genocide. The appeals court considered the facts of the case to be among the most serious crimes judged by a Dutch criminal court since the Second World War. REDRESS, together with Kigali-based human rights organization African Rights, has been working closely with survivors in Rwanda and abroad for many years.

REDRESS and other organisations estimate that hundreds of genocide suspects accused of mass crimes committed during the genocide are still living at large in Europe. The film sends a clear message of what needs to be done to ensure that suspects are held accountable. It has recently been shown to survivors in Rwanda, to help them understand their right to reparation and the concept and practical issues of universal jurisdiction.

Lloyd-Davies has worked for major broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera. She leads Studio 9 Films Ltd and is recognised for the films she made for Newsnight with Salam Pax, the “Baghdad Blogger”, which earned them an RTS award.

The Appeal of Joseph M is available in English and Kinyarwanda on

For further information or if you would like to request a copy of the film please contact:

Juergen Schurr, legal advisor, at [email protected] or Eva Sanchis, communications officer, at [email protected] and + 44 (0) 2077931777.