EDITORIAL: UN should transfer ICTR archives to their natural home; Rwanda

Despite several appeals to have the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – that has recently been transformed into the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals – archives transferred to Rwanda, little has been done.

The efforts, that intensified as the Tanzania-based tribunal was preparing to wind up its work last year, have largely been ignored, despite the justifiable reasons advanced by Rwanda to host these archives.

It’s inconceivable that the United Nations Security Council continues to ignore Rwanda’s natural right and request to be the custodian of important records of own history – archives that contain the work done by the tribunal over 20 years.

The Security Council claims that the move would put some witnesses at risk, among other reasons.

However, as the country that suffered the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has every right to keep these records on behalf of the UN. The archives in question include video recordings of testimonies, written requests to the court and written decisions.

Besides being the affected country, Rwanda is a full member of the United Nations.

The Minister for Justice was spot on last year when he said that Rwandans will never stop asking for the archives, whether it takes decades or centuries. More importantly, the archives are a great tool in furthering reconciliation and healing among the people of Rwanda.

The continued refusal to transfer the records to Rwanda only serves the interests of Genocide deniers, apologists and their sympathisers, and is a mockery of the victims and survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The UN should, therefore, not be seen to bend to the whims of genocidaires and their supporters and instead do the right thing: transfer the archives to Rwanda, their natural home.