A meeting of East African Community Chief Justices and judges that has just ended in Nairobi has decided that the issue concerning the storage of archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should decided by the bloc’s Council of Ministers.
The bloc’s top judges resolved that the Council of Ministers should decide where in the bloc the archives should be hosted.
“The Council of Ministers should take a position on where within the EAC region the archives of the Arusha-based UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should be hosted,” a statement released after the meeting reads in part.
“The meeting recognized that the archives will be an important resource for reference in future as EAC builds its own research capacity.”
ICTR is expected to wind up its work in the next two years.
The newly established African Court for Human Rights was also urged to initiate dialogue with the United Nations with a view of inheriting the archives when the international tribunal closes next year.
Speculation is rife that Kenya might also be interested in housing the archives.
The Arusha-based UN Court is trying key suspects of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
Its archives are composed of large amounts of evidence, statements and video recordings, among others.
Consultative meetings on where the ICTR archives should be housed have been ongoing with many suggesting Rwanda or Arusha.
Another source said that Kenya could have been chosen due to the fact that it is the location of the United Nations headquaters in Africa.
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 Nairobi meeting which was attended by about 50 top judges and judicial officials from the EAC also recommended the domestication of international laws dealing with impunity.
“Among them include ratification and domestication of relevant international laws dealing with impunity and human abuses and allowing for empowerment of regional and national judicial mechanisms to handle these issues,” reads part of the release.
The meeting also urged the Council of Ministers to consider establishing a unit within the EAC Secretariat to coordinate the activities of the Chief Justices’ Forum and all issues related to good governance.