A London-based start-up NGO named African Rights became famous overnight in 1994 by publishing a detailed 750 page volume about the Rwandan genocide less than three months after it had ended. The report and subsequent African Rights publications named hundreds of names of alleged génocidaires and purported to lay the groundwork for their criminal prosecution. Based on numerous interviews, the article shows that African Rights was coopted in the first weeks of the genocide by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and that the report was produced with its active support. The article further shows that after 1994, African Rights gradually became a single-issue NGO (focused on the Rwandan genocide) and proxy for the new RPF-dominated Rwandan government. In 2003, African Rights became an outright RPF-front organization funded by and working closely with the RPF’s intelligence apparatus. Besides telling the untold story of African Rights, the article demonstrates the impact of its publications on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, on scholarship, and on mass media. It concludes that African Rights was instrumental in shaping and spreading an easily consumable one-sided narrative of the Rwandan conflict and that the resulting pensée unique contributed to RPF impunity.


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pp. 547-588
Launched on MUSE
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