UNSC take on ICTR transfers; a gesture delayed but appreciated

The announcement over the weekend by a top UN Security Council diplomat that he was disappointed at the complacency of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in the transfer of cases to Rwanda has come a bit late but is well appreciated. This dissatisfaction was expressed by John Sawers, the British ambassador to the United Nations, who headed the high level delegation that visited on Sunday. The fact that Rwanda, in its meagre budget managed to make the requisite preparations, with close watch by ICTR officials, to accommodate the trials, but nothing has been done shows something is wrong with the court.

The announcement over the weekend by a top UN Security Council diplomat that he was disappointed at the complacency of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in the transfer of cases to Rwanda has come a bit late but is well appreciated.

This dissatisfaction was expressed by John Sawers, the British ambassador to the United Nations, who headed the high level delegation that visited on Sunday.

The fact that Rwanda, in its meagre budget managed to make the requisite preparations, with close watch by ICTR officials, to accommodate the trials, but nothing has been done shows something is wrong with the court.

Be it courtrooms or detention facilities which were upgraded to conform to international standards, we even saw top officials from the Tanzania-based tribunal, coming here to inspect the facilities and qualify them as compliant to host the suspects.

Rwanda went an extra mile to put in place proper legislative framework, under which these people are to be tried should they be brought back, where the Genocide was committed but nothing has been done. The weekend announcement brings new hope.

Hopefully, maybe something will be finally done, now that the delegation, rather than staying in New York to influence what takes place in developing countries, travelled to Rwanda to see what has been achieved.

This progressive development, indicates that something will be done to ensure that Rwandans get the much deprived justice in seeing those who planned the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi stand trial.

Our take here is, no one else wants to see these people, the so-called elite who orchestrated the carnage, stand trial in their backyard than Rwandans.

Another thing that the distinguished delegation should have also noticed is the reluctance of the ICTR to transfer those who were convicted to Rwanda to complete their sentences in Rwandan detention facilities.

They have instead chosen to ferry them off to other countries like Mali despite the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the court and the government of Rwanda that the latter host the convicts.

The UNSC, which instituted the tribunal that is bound to close down altogether next year, should also strive to ensure that the legacy of the court remains in Rwanda by bringing the archives to Rwanda where the atrocities were committed under the watch of the international community.

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