Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Rwanda: government critical of ICTR

This article is a week old ... but I wanted to bring it to your attention. The article quotes Gerald Gahima, Prosecutor to the Supreme Court of Rwanda (this is not the UN court).
"We have concerns about the failure of the ICTR to indict many genocide suspects who are at large, and yet at the same time the ICTR has decided to conclude its investigations by the end of next year without making any provisions as to what will be done to bring those other suspects who are at large to justice."
I know I have raised this issue before but I raise it again because it's terribly important. It's about justice.

As I mentioned before there has been a lot of criticism of how the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is being managed and the pace of prosecutions etc. The Rwandans blame the chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, who also serves as the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Kofi Anan has taken up the cause and recommended to the Security Council that Ms. Del Ponte be replaced at ICTR (she would stay on at ICTY). But the issue isn't very straight forward. As this earlier post shows, a number of organizations are concerned that the campaign against Ms. Del Ponte is championed in part by those seeking to stop her pursuit of people in the present Rwandan government who are suspected of having committed human rights violations during the Genocide.

So far, the ICTR has convicted 12 people, acquitted one, and has 56 defendants in detention. There are also a number of very important people who have not been apprehended and charged. The ICTR was created by the Security Council in November 1994 ... and started operating in 1995.

Estimates vary but during the Rwandan Genocide, anywhere from 500,000 to a million people were killed during 100 days of violence. The genocide began on April 6, 1994 when Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down.