KIGALI - The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that he supports Rwanda’s bid to receive and try Genocide suspects from the Arusha based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ki-moon declared his backing for Rwanda’s bid yesterday during a joint press conference with President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro, shortly after their meeting.
“I support the efforts by the Rwandan government in preparation for these suspects…for instance the improvement of detention facilities and the judicial reforms the country has undergone,” Ki-moon said.
He however said that the absolute powers to sanction these transfers will be in the hands of the judges. The ICTR mandate is due to expire come end of this year and Rwanda has persistently requested to take over the cases that will not have been tried then.
“I also appreciate the waiver of the death penalty by President Kagame,” the UN chief said. The ICTR Chief Prosecutor Boubakar Jallow has already filed a motion requesting for the transfer of three Genocide suspects to Rwanda, but a trial chamber is yet to make a decision.
The UN-funded tribunal has since its institution in 1995 completed only 35 cases, five of which are acquittals. Six suspects in ICTR custody are awaiting trial, while 27 are undergoing trial. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza had requested Ki-moon to support the transfers during their meeting at his offices in Kimihurura.
“Many Rwandans look at the tribunal as a foreign institution,” Makuza said. The Premier had also called for the arrest of fugitives still at large.
Ki-moon, who has been in the country since Monday night, praised the leadership of President Kagame, saying that he should serve as an example to other African leaders.
“I hold great respect and admiration for President Kagame because of his efforts to transform the socio-economic lives of Rwandans since the Genocide,” he told a news conference.
President Kagame appreciated the UN support to Rwanda in her socio-economic development process. Ki-moon said that the stability of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is essential for the growth and development of the region.
He said that the UN would do anything to support the peace deals signed to pacify the eastern DRC, where numerous rebel groups that are a threat to regional stability are based. “That is why we have moved the base of MONUC (the UN mission in DRC) from Kisangani to Goma…we are in full support of the two peace agreements (Nairobi Agreement and the Goma deal),” he said
The UN boss is expected to leave the country today for the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ki-moon said that search for a solution to the current Kenya unrest will be high on the agenda of the AU Summit.
“While there (at the summit), I will discuss this matter with African leaders to find a way to address the situation,” he said
Kenya has been rocked by the post-election violence, following a widely disputed presidential poll, in which President Mwai Kibaki beat Raila Odinga last month. Close to one thousand Kenyans have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the aftermath.
Ki-moon said that he is closely monitoring the situation in the eastern African economic giant, adding that he would do whatever he can as UN head to ensure that the unrest is ended.