The Military Tribunal was established by the Rwanda Constitution of 2003 in its articles 143 and 153, replacing the former War Council that was established by the then Fundamental Law.
As provided by the Constitution, the Military Tribunal’s organization, jurisdiction and functioning were later on determined by the Organic Law no 07/2004 of 25/04/2004 determining the Organization, Functioning and Jurisdiction of Courts as modified and completed to date.
The mission of the Military Tribunal is to offer preventive knowledge of the law and efficient delivery of justice to the military public and associated people so as to enhance discipline in the Rwanda Defence Force.
A tribunal characterized by speedy delivery of justice, enhanced professionalism of its members, enabled by recent technologies and whose main motivation is imparting knowledge of the law to its clients rather than punishing crime.
The Military Tribunal has the power of trying in the first instance all criminal offences except those reserved for the Military High Court. The criminal offences include genocide cases classified in 1st category committed by military personnel [irrespective of the rank] as well as their accomplices.
In trying cases submitted to the Military Tribunal, judges follow the general Code of Criminal Procedure as defined by the Law no 13/2004 of 17/05/2004 as modified and completed to date. The code based on the following main principles: publicity of hearings, fairness, impartiality, right to defence of the accused, cross examination, equality of litigants before the law, legality in collecting and producing evidences, and avoiding any undue delay in rendering justice.
Judgments rendered by the Military Tribunal might be appealed in the Military High Court.
Since its establishment in 2004, the Military Tribunal has achieved the following:
• Discipline in the Force has remarkably improved and the crime rate is in constant regression. This is partly due to sensitization programmes.
• Internal capacity has been enhanced. At least 11 Judges and several other members of staff are adequately qualified and continue to attend developmental training in their respective fields.
• There is a remarkable increase in the speed with which judgments are handed down i.e. an average of 40 cases is concluded [in their substance] every month.