ARUSHA -With the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) preparing to close shop, speculation is rife that Kenya might soon be home to the court’s archives.
The archives include large records, testimonies and tens of thousands of hours of video-taped court proceedings.
“Latest information indicates that by next year, the archives will be fully transferred to Nairobi, Kenya,” said a reliable source who preferred to remain anonymous because the court has not yet pronounced itself on the matter.
Consultative meetings on where the ICTR archives should be housed have been ongoing with many archivists suggesting Rwanda and Arusha to house the records.
Another source said that Kenya could have been chosen due to the fact that it is the location of the United Nations offices in Africa.
Despite repeated calls The New Times made by press time yesterday, the ICTR Spokesperson Roland Amoussouga could not be reached for a comment on the report.
When contacted, Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, could not comment either on the reports.
“As you know we are in recess. I haven’t read anything about that or received any communication about that decision. I will first have to return to office.” Karugarama.
If this report is anything to go by, it will most likely undermine reasons advanced by many who had suggested that the archives be brought to Rwanda as part of the historical legacy of the country.
Other meetings of African experts and stake-holders last year, suggested that the ICTR records, archives and related equipment remain on the continent but didn’t name any country where they would be located.
If transferred to Rwanda, experts say the archives would play several roles including facilitating future prosecutions; serving as a historic record, as well as contributing to the country’s peace and reconciliation process.
The UN Security Council (UNSC), had earlier ordered the tribunal to close by end of this year, but the tribunal’s President, Denis Byron asked the council to extend the judges contracts to enable the smooth accomplishment of ongoing trial cases.
The Tanzania-based court now has until the end of next year to wrap up its activities and the Security Council ordered that the remaining cases should be taken to national jurisdictions.
Rwanda remains the only country committed to take on the ICTR cases once the tribunal closes down, but the court last year rejected the referral of the initial cases that had been put forward by the prosecutor to be referred to Rwanda.
It is likely that Rwanda will highly contest the decision as it insists that it rightfully owns the archives which have since become a contentious issue with the pending closure of the tribunal.