William & Mary

Former UN prosecutor to lecture on prosecuting human rights

Brenda Sue Thornton, a former United Nations prosecutor, will deliver a lecture titled "Prosecuting Human Rights in East Timor and Rwanda - An Insider Account" at 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2 in Room 124 of the Law School. Thornton‚s lecture will be her first-person account of prosecuting human rights violators in these regions. The lecture is free and open to the public as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Human Rights and National Security Law Program.

Thornton has worked as a prosecutor for both the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and for the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor. As a prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda, she successfully litigated Prosecutor v. Clement Kayishema and Obed Ruzidana in 1995. In this case, the defendants were charged with four counts of genocide. Thornton later served as a prosecutor in the Serious Crimes Unit of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor, where she prosecuted several of the Unit‚s first cases.

In 2004 Thornton traveled to Chad as an interviewer on the Atrocities Documentation Team, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, to systematically interview Sudanese refugees/victims from the Dafur region. The results of these interviews provided grounds for the Department of State to define the Sudanese government‚s actions as genocide.