ARUSHA - Rwanda’s Special Representative to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Alloys Mutabingwa, has underscored that Rwanda should be the custodian of the UN court’s records.
Speaking to The New Times at his office in Arusha, Tanzania yesterday, Mutabingwa said that the records are vital for Rwanda as a matter of history, and as a matter of pursuing justice when the ICTR closes.
“Part of the archives include things that are defined as artefacts. To date, there are things that one has to go to former colonial masters’ territories in order to know about his or her own country’s history,” he noted, adding, “We are not expecting that to recur indirectly through having such important records sent to any other country, yet the country where they are supposed to be stored exists.”.
The archives include large records, testimonies and tens of thousands of hours of videotaped courtroom proceedings.
Among other roles the archives will play include; facilitating future prosecutions; serving as a historic record, as well as contributing to peace and reconciliation in Rwanda and other regions.
Last month, a consultative meeting of African experts and stakeholders suggested that the ICTR records, archives and related equipment remain on the continent but didn’t name any country where they would be located.
They also suggested that they should remain the property of the UN, an issue Mutabingwa said Rwanda would respect once it becomes the custodian of the records.
“We are not saying we want to own, we are only saying we have a right to take custody. Otherwise the ownership can still remain with the UN because it is its property,” he underscored.
The recommendations of the experts’ meeting were forwarded to the chairperson of the joint five-man experts team established to propose on the future of the archives of the UN-backed tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and ICTR. The final report is expected to be ready this month.
The UN Security Council has directed ICTR to complete all pending trials by end of December, 2008. However, the tribunal has requested for an additional one year to smoothly wrap up the cases.