Law Professor’s Work Cited by UK High Court

Lexington, VA • Monday, July 06, 2009


Mark Drumbl
Washington and Lee law professor Mark Drumbl's research on the Rwandan genocide trials influenced  a recent United Kingdom High Court of Justice decision involving the extradition to Rwanda of four high-profile genocide suspects.

The case, Bajinya et al v. Government of Rwanda/UK Secretary of State, has attracted significant public interest.  Government officials from the United Kingdom and Rwanda supported extradition so the suspects could stand trial in Rwanda. The defendants appealed to the UK High Court after earlier proceedings ordered their extradition.  There is no further appeal from the High Court in this matter.

The High Court ultimately sided with the defendants. The High Court's assessment of genocide trials in Rwanda led the Lord Justices to deny extradition owing to concerns over due process and fair trial. Both UK domestic legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights preclude extradition in the event a flagrant denial of justice might result.  Drumbl's research was specifically excerpted in support of the conclusions that the Rwandan government is loathe to accept acquittals and that, despite improvements over time in the quality of justice in Rwanda, political pressures to convict persist with regard to high level suspects. 

"The outcome of this case is tricky insofar as the UK lacks the legislation to prosecute these suspects domestically in a national court setting," noted Drumbl. "But it is exciting to see this research play some part in judicial decision-making."

Mark A. Drumbl is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor at Washington and Lee University, School of Law, where he also serves as Director of the University's Transnational Law Institute. Drumbl has lectured and published extensively on public international law, war crimes trials, and genocide prevention.  He is the author of Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law (2007), which has been widely acclaimed and has won prestigious awards from the International Association of Criminal Law and the American Society of International Law. 

Drumbl has taught international law in Uganda, Brazil, Italy, Finland, and the Netherlands and in addition has held visiting appointments on the law faculties of Oxford University, the University of Paris, Trinity College-Dublin, and the University of Western Ontario, among others.  This year he was appointed to the Advisory Board of the International Bar Association's War Crimes Committee, and in January he delivered the Law, Justice, and Society honorific lecture at Oxford University. He is scheduled to present his work this fall at the law schools at Cornell, Yale and McGill, and at the International Peace Palace in The Hague.

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