Rwanda, ICTR discuss witness protection ahead of transfers

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and officials from the Rwandan government are discussing the ICTR witness protection programme ahead of the closure of the tribunal.
Sera Ameso Attika.
Sera Ameso Attika.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and officials from the Rwandan government are discussing the ICTR witness protection programme ahead of the closure of the tribunal.

The four-day conference being held at the Top Tower Hotel, started yesterday and has brought together the ICTR with officials from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the ministry of Health and NGOs dealing with trauma counseling of genocide survivors.

In his opening remarks, Alfred Kwende the ICTR representative in Rwanda said that the conference will provide an opportunity and discussion forum for the participants to discuss the effective protection of witnesses upon the closure of the tribunal.

The tribunal which was established by the UN to try masterminds of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, has until next year to have closed all pending trials and Rwanda remains the prime candidate to take over remaining trials.

Theoneste Karenzi, the coordinator of Witnesses Support Unit in the Prosecutor General’s Office, said that the four-day conference means a lot to the government to have the input on witness protection, since his unit provides protection for all genocide witnesses.

Speaking to The New Times, Sera Ameso Attika, the deputy chief in the Witnesses Support Section at the Tanzania-based tribunal said that over one hundred witnesses have been helped by the tribunal’s medical services.

“The tribunal should also look at material assistance and psychological help in addition to health assistance,” Claire Umwali the Principal State Attorney advised. She also called upon the tribunal to send convicted persons to Rwanda to complete their sentences.

“I don’t understand why this tribunal has continued to turn a deaf ear on Rwanda’s request to transfer the convicts to complete their sentences in Rwanda but instead send them to Mali, I think there is conflict of interest,” Umwali added.

Recently, two convicts Hassan Ngeze and Ferdinand Nahimana were transferred to a Malian prison to serve their sentences in the West African state.

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