Rwanda to launch appeal at UN tribunal
URUGWIRO VILLAGE - The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has expressed its disappointment in the failure by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to transfer some of the Genocide cases to Rwanda as requested by government.
This was revealed by Ambassador John Sawers, the head of delegation of the visiting UN Security Council, currently in the country who was addressing the press shortly after meeting President Paul Kagame, at Urugwiro Village.
“We do think that there is chance for more cases being transferred to Rwanda to be tried locally because this makes the whole process faster and less expensive. We are disappointed that this has not taken place so far, and it is having an impact on other cases,” Sawers said.
Last year, an ICTR Trial Chamber turned down a request by the tribunal’s chief prosecutor to refer five cases to Rwanda for trial.
“It is important that the ICTR looks at some of these cases, and where possible, consider returning indictees back to Rwanda to be tried in local courts,” asserted Sawers who is also the UK Ambassador at the United Nations.
He further blamed the failure by some European countries, including the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Finland, to transfer suspected Genocidaires as based on the decision by the ICTR Judges’ position not to transfer the cases to Rwanda.
“Its agreed in the ICTR, like it is in other tribunals internationally, that cases where possible be transferred to local courts rather than the international courts. But that decision has to be approved by judges like it was the case with Yugoslavia.”
“We do think that there’s a need for more cases being referred back to Rwanda. We are disappointed that there has been a flaw of these cases so far,” said Sawers.
In a related development, the Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, confirmed Rwanda’s intention to lodge an appeal in the United Nations to have some of the cases in the ICTR, whose mandate is expected to expire at the end of this year, transferred to Rwanda.
“It’s a correct observation (Sawer’s). What we have said and always insisted is to have some of these cases transferred to Rwanda. We are yet to launch another attempt to have these transfers made in a week or two,” confirmed Ngoga.
He said that after making necessary amendments in the laws and the status of witnesses in cases, as well as clearing what the ICTR calls ‘weaknesses’, another appeal will be launched to have these cases transferred.
“We have talked to the Prosecutor about the issue and we should be in a position to file a fresh appeal and we hope the ICTR has been able to have the same observation that we are capable of handling these cases,” Ngoga said in a phone interview with The New Times.
Rwanda has also requested to host convicts of the UN court in Rwandan detention facilities, but despite the signing of an agreement between the ICTR and the government to this effect, no single convict has been sent.
Nearly all of them have been sent to serve their sentences in Mali.
The delegation that is made up of 15 envoys to the UN from different countries also included Susan Rice (US) and Uganda’s envoy to the UN, Ruhakana Rugunda.