Officials from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are in the country to study and share ideas of how Rwanda has managed to preserve the memory and record of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The two officials, John Hocking, the ICTY Registrar and Pierre Galinier, the ICTY Legacy Administrative Officer who are in the country on a four-day fact finding mission yesterday met and discussed with officials from the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), the body charged with preserving genocide memory.
The officials from the Hague-based tribunal charged with prosecuting War crimes in the former Yugoslavia, shared ideas on how Rwanda is planning to keep archives from the just concluded Gacaca traditional courts.
All paperwork related to Gacaca, which tried over one million suspects, has been handed over to CNLG.
According to Hocking, the Tribunal, which is almost closing shop 17 years after its establishment, intends to use the next two to three years to keep a legacy of its activities as well as its archives and records for future reference and research purposes.
The ICTY officials commended the decision by the government to set up CNLG as a body responsible for preserving the memory of the Genocide, and the commission has done a great job in keeping the memory alive.
“I was also extremely interested to hear about the work of the commission, and the last two hours of discussions have not only been incredibly useful to me, but also moving and encouraging to see the positive work that can come out through the commission from what has been such horrific events that happened here in Rwanda,” said Hocking.
“I find the work of the commission extremely visionary and they have done something they can offer to the rest of the world. I would like to see the work of the commission known in a much wider audience internationally”.
Hocking who arrived in the country from the Arusha-based ICTR tribunal, said that like the Rwandan Tribunal, the ICTY is coming to the end of its mandate and in the next few years, they would focus on finishing its work.
Among other things, he noted that the idea is to set up research and archive centres, adding that his lesson from Rwanda is how the government can use the memory of Genocide to ensure that what happened does not happen again.
According to the CNLG’s Executive Secretary Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the ICTY officials decided to visit Rwanda after learning about the country’s success story in keeping the memory of the Genocide alive, as well as the government’s plans to establish a Genocide Research Centre and archives for the Gacaca Courts.
“They wanted to see for themselves what Rwanda has achieved after the Genocide, in terms of prevention, research and record keeping so that they can draw lessons,” Mucyo said.
He added that Rwanda will participate in a conference in the Balkan countries that formerly made up Yugoslavia to share experiences and achievements in the fight against Genocide.
Among the things, Rwanda will share with other countries, is how it has kept Genocide memorial sites, remains of victims, and the documentation as well as commemoration of the Genocide.
Mucyo revealed that the structure of building the genocide research and documentation centre has already been approved by the cabinet and architectural designs are being studied. The centre will be constructed in Kigali.
He added that Rwanda is still optimistic and ready to host the ICTR archives which remain in contention. He said that the country is ready in terms of facilities and infrastructure.