NYANZA- The government of Rwanda will continue cooperating and supporting the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, despite its mandate extension announced by the UN Security Council, Tharcise Karugarama, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General has said.
The revelation comes after this week’s UN Security Council’s extension of the ICTR mandate for another year till December 31, 2009. Trials at the ICTR were due to close shop in December this year.
The one year extension of the ICTR mandate was requested by the court’s President Dennis Byron and was sanctioned by the 11th plenary session of the UN and 62nd General Assembly in New York.
The Security Council also approved the Court President’s request to extend the terms of office of Trial Chamber Judges until December 31, 2009, and those of the Appeals Chamber until December 31, 2010.
In an interview, Karugarama said that it was desirable that the ICTR completes its mandate this year because it will not achieve in one year what it failed to achieve in the 14 years of its existence.
He said, “The ICTR in its 14 years of existence has managed to complete less than 40 cases. In Rwanda we have completed over 1 million Genocide-related cases through Gacaca, and over 15,000 cases through conventional courts.
“We are not satisfied with the way the ICTR has operated over the last 14 years, but we will continue to cooperate with it until the end of its mandate,” added Karugarama.
The Justice Minister said that Rwanda is ready to receive Genocide suspects arrested in different parts of the world for trial and supports the idea of other countries trying such Genocide suspects.
“Our desire is to see that people who are suspected to have committed Genocide in Rwanda face the law. Let the innocent be acquitted and the guilty punished. It does not matter who tries them,” said Karugarama.
The Minister criticised the ICTR for its recent remarks that Rwanda lacks an independent justice system.
“The recent utterances by the ICTR are unfortunate because they are unfounded. There is no justification for such statements. The ICTR should desist from making political statements but rather concentrate on meting out justice.”
He also added that the ICTR mandate will finally come to an end but that will not mean that trials of Genocide suspects still on the run will end.
“The Rwandan Courts will never cease to operate. Genocide suspects wherever they may be, will at one time face trial because Genocide crimes are timeless. They can be tried regardless when they were committed,” said Karugarama.
The ICTR was formed in 1994 to try perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis which claimed over 1 million people. The tribunal has indicted 91 people and completed 35 trials.