The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has made a move to influence the amendment of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) statute to empower it handle the residues of the cases to be left by the backlogged court.
This is ridiculous in the sense that the tribunal disregarded the ongoing process between the government of Rwanda and the ICTR to have not only the remaining trials, but also the convicts brought where they belong, for various reasons that were well stated at different forums.
The fact that the ICTR makes this move further show their deliberate defiance to the people of Rwanda, who stand to gain more than everybody else by having these people, who orchestrated the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 20th century, tried in their backyard.
To the very best of my knowledge, it is only Rwanda that has applied to take on the remaining cases of the tribunal that is set to close shop by the end of next year, on orders of the instituting organ of the tribunal, the UN Security Council, and no other country has applied for this.
Despite Rwanda being a member of the East African Community, a bloc to which the country currently holds its chairmanship, it is unwarranted to have these cases taken on by the EACJ, a court that currently has no jurisdiction to prosecute criminal cases.
One can only say that the tribunal is just intented to take the cases elsewhere but Rwanda despite the massive judicial reforms that the country has undergone to conform to the standards required to host cases.
Detention facilities have been significantly improved to an extent of having one specific facility—Mpanga Prison in the Southern Province—built for the comfort of these suspects.
Agreements have been signed between the ICTR and the Government of Rwanda to both have the cases brought and tried here or bringing convicts to serve their fine in Rwanda, where, by the way, they will be easily accessed by their relatives rather than ferrying them off to west African countries like Mali.
Further still, it would not have done any harm for the distinguished tribunal to make prior consultations with the government of Rwanda on whether or not to have the cases taken on by the EACJ; an institution that one can only say is still young.
What research have they conducted to ascertain that indeed the EACJ, which is currently only limited to handling civil and commercial disputes, will have the aptitude to handle cases of this magnitude?
This would have been necessitated by the fact that Rwanda being not only the country directly attached to the matter but also a member of the East African Community.
For a couple of years now, the ICTR has been ‘training’ different judicial organs in the country, right from the judges to defence lawyers, reportedly in preparation of these cases in the event they are referred here for trial. Is this hypocrisy?
One can only conclude by asking whether the United Nations has not failed Rwandans for the second time, after having failed to stop the Genocide into which over a million people were brutality killed under the watch of the UN troops.
The author is the News Editor, The New Times