Govt envoy predicts gloom for ICTR as Seven judges quit

The Government’s Special Representative at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has cautioned that the UN-backed court risks a bad ending following the resignation of seven judges.

The Government’s Special Representative at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has cautioned that the UN-backed court risks a bad ending following the resignation of seven judges.

Seven Judges have announced their intention to resign by the end of this year with ten cases still to go.

In a telephone interview from Arusha, Alloys Mutabingwa told The New Times that the UN and ICTR particularly, faces a great challenge as the tribunal loses competent judges to remain with unproductive judges.

“The UN General Assembly elects the judges on the request of tribunal, however, to my understanding the tribunal has not yet written to the UN requesting for the appointment of new judges. The tribunal’s leadership is at risk of not having a successful ending,” Mutabingwa said.

The ICTR, whose mandate is set to expire in 2010, has been told by the UN Security Council to wind up all its cases in first instance by the end of next year when at least ten cases have not yet started.

The cases include those of four suspects in the tribunal’s custody whose transfer to Rwanda as had earlier been suggested by the tribunal’s prosecutor, was blocked by the Appeals Chamber.

The tribunal’s leadership claims to be short of manpower after the resignations of two permanent and one ad litem (not permanent) judges at end of this year, while four others have announced their intention to resign after judgments in their current cases.

During his address to the Security Council recently, the ICTR President, Judge Dennis Byron, said that it was necessary to appoint at least four new ad litem judges to replace the seven judges who would not be available to take up the new cases. Currently the Tribunal’s Trial Chamber had nine permanent judges and nine ad litem.

Mutabingwa reiterated Rwanda’s position of having the cases transferred to Rwanda.

“Our position is clear, the ICTR should abide by the law by transferring the cases, archives, and the convicts to serve their sentences in Rwanda,” Mutabingwa said. 

Established to try key architects of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis, the ICTR has so far completed less than 40 cases, the latest being yesterday’s much-awaited verdict against Theoneste Bagosora a former Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Defence.

Bagosora who is said to have been the key organizer of the Genocide, was convicted by the UN court to life imprisonment.

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