Rwanda: Chronology of events in 2002

NAIROBI, 17 January (IRIN)
24 January - Two genocide survivors groups, Avega and Ibuka, suspend cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

6 February - A former Roman Catholic priest, Athanase Seromba, indicted for crimes of genocide, is detained at the ICTR following his surrender to the tribunal from Italy.

4 March - A former councillor, Vincent Rutaganira, indicted for crimes of genocide, is transferred to the ICTR, having been arrested in a refugee camp in Kigoma, northwestern Tanzania, on 2 March.

11 March - Aloys Simba, a lieutenant-colonel in the former Rwandan armed forces and an MP during the genocide, and Paul Bisengimana, a former mayor, are transferred to the ICTR. Simba was arrested on 23 November 2001 in Mali, while Bisengimana was arrested in 4 December 2001 in Senegal. Both are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.

2 April - Theoneste Bagosora, the alleged mastermind behind the genocide, and three other senior commanders in the former Rwandan army boycott the opening of their trial at the ICTR, saying they had not received their trial briefs in time, and in both of the Tribunal's official languages.

8 April - Training begins of almost 255,000 judges for the Gacaca village "courts".

10 April - A Rwandan former priest, Hormidas Nsengimana, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, is transferred to the ICTR. Nsengimana was arrested in Yaounde, Cameroon, on 21 March.

27 April-7 May - The UN Security Council visits the Great Lakes region, including Rwanda.

April/May - Heavy rains from April to early May cause the deaths of some 63 people, and render hundreds homeless.

28 May - The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) accuses Rwanda of committing "genocide against more than 3.5 million people" in the DRC, in a case filed at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands.

18 June - The Gacaca court system is officially launched. Pilot trials remain in operation until October.

28 June - The defence ministers of Rwanda and Uganda sign an agreement designed to build confidence and understanding between their once hostile armies.

29 July - The US Rewards for Justice Programme is extended to the DRC, offering up to US $5 million for information leading to the arrest of any of nine genocide suspects thought to be there.

30 July - Presidents Joseph Kabila of the DRC and Paul Kagame of Rwanda sign the Pretoria Peace Accord.

July/August - ICTR Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte complains to the UN Security Council of a lack of cooperation from Rwandan authorities.

6 August - The US government announces a significant increase in funding for the ICTR, to allow the formation of a pool of 18 new judges for the court.

13/14 August - Angolan authorities arrest Rwandan genocide suspect Augustin Bizimungu, who was found among disbanding UNITA fighters, and transfer him to the ICTR.

31 August - The Rwandan government reportedly begins to forcibly repatriate Congolese refugees to North Kivu. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers expresses "grave concern" over the issue.

September - The World Health Organisation reports that as of 2 September, 636 meningitis cases and 83 deaths have been reported in eight of Rwanda's 12 provinces.

11 September - A Rwandan genocide suspect, known as Jean-Baptiste Gatete (real name Jean Nsengiyumva), is arrested in the Republic of Congo.

17 September - Rwanda begins to withdraw its troops from the DRC.

24 September - The DRC government announces a ban on all armed Rwandan groups operating in the country, and declares their leaders personae non gratae on DRC territory.

30 September - Repatriation of the first group of 69 ex-combatants and 10 Rwandan civilians to Rwanda from Kamina, DRC.

5 October - Rwanda officially completes its withdrawal from the DRC.

21 October - The report of United Nations Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC is released, accusing Rwanda of maintaining soldiers in eastern DRC, and of using security concerns as a facade for economically exploiting the country's wealth.

1 November - A mutiny occurs among over 1,000 Rwandan ex-combatants awaiting repatriation in Kamina, DRC. Scores of them escape.

Kabila and Kagame agree to an extra 90 days to implement the Pretoria Peace Accord.

Late November - A total of 673 Gacaca courts begin operating nationwide, compiling lists of those killed, those accused, crimes committed and registering those eligible for compensation.

4 December - The UN mission in the DRC sends observers to Bukavu, South Kivu, to investigate the alleged presence of Rwandan soldiers in the region. A second delegation of observers is sent to other areas of the DRC where local people have reported the presence of Rwandan troops. No evidence is found to support these claims.

18 Dec - The UN Security Council tells the Rwandan government that it must cooperate with the ICTR.

End December - The repatriation of Rwandan Hutu refugees from Tanzania is substantively completed. Almost 19,000 return to Rwanda in November and December, leaving only about 100 in refugee camps and 50 in various prisons.

Early January 2003 - About 3,000 Rwandan refugees in Tanzania who had either been pretending to be Burundians, or escaped into Tanzanian villages, come forward to UNHCR and demand repatriation.

The Rwandan government announces that up to 40,000 prison detainees are to be temporarily released, among them many accused of participation in the genocide, pending sentencing in Gacaca "courts".


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