The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has approved a motion to ensure that all pending cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) be transferred to Rwanda when the court’s mandate expires in 2010.
The motion was approved on Thursday during the EALA third sitting in Kampala after being moved by Patricia Hajabakiga, who coordinates the EALA Rwanda Chapter.
“Rwanda still believes that the major interest shared with the Security Council is to find an amicable and effective conclusion of the adhoc mandate of this tribunal,” said Hajabakiga.
“Likewise, a UN Security Council resolution is needed to oblige the ICTR and UN members States to ensure that by the end of 2009, all pending middle and low ranking cases are transferred to Rwanda,” she added.
The ICTR was established by the UN Security Council 14 years ago and the same organ has given the court up to the end of next year to finish all trials while appeals should be completed by 2010.
“Rwanda needs a mechanism to ensure that the set ICTR completion goals and time frame do not shift gradually...it needs to guard against endless fait-a-compli, that necessitate extension instead of completion of the court’s mandate,” Hajabakiga observed.
The EALA, through its resolution urged the EAC Heads of State Summit, through the Council of Ministers, to request Uganda, now a member of the Security Council, to table the matter before the Council for adoption.
“Rwanda has built a strong judicial system that conforms to international standards. It is Rwanda where the Genocide was committed, therefore is only logical that Rwanda handles the remaining cases,” said Otieno Karan, an EALA MP said.
The regional parliamentarians also requested the Council of Ministers to table the motion before the regional Heads of State to adopt a common position on ICTR completion regarding the transfer of genocide cases to the national jurisdiction in Rwanda.
In addition, Dora Byamukama, an EALA member from Uganda retaliated the support for the motion saying that cases should be transferred to Rwanda since the ICTR is just an adhoc body of the UN Security Council, and since Rwanda had stepped up its judicial system and gone ahead to enact legislation to facilitate provision of justice, the pending cases at the ICTR should be transferred to Rwanda without fail.
“Some cases are pending because the court is operating away from evidence which is in Rwanda. As EALA, we are talking from a knowledgeable point of view because during the last sitting we attended some of the Gacaca proceedings and realized that they are very competent and there a strong judicial system ,” she said.
EALA last sat in Kigali in September where the regional parliamentarians got a chance to explore the different developments the country has achieved in the past few years.
“If some cases have been transferred to other countries in Europe, what is ICTR’s problem with cases being transferred to Rwanda? We need to call for a frank and candid discussion on this matter and ICTR should appreciate what Rwanda has done,” she asserted.
The sitting was presided over by the Assembly’s Speaker Abdiraheen Haithar and in the presence of the EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu.