Clarification on a news article following the ICTR Registrar’s visit to Rwanda

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda would like to respond and comment on your news item published by your newspaper on 20 February 2013 under the headline “ICTR Speaks out on Genocide Cases in France.” This follows the visit of an ICTR delegation led by the Registrar Mr. Bongani Majola during which he also met with the Rwanda Minister for Justice Mr. Tharcisse Karugarama.
Danford Mpumilwa
Danford Mpumilwa

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda would like to respond and comment on your news item published by your newspaper on 20 February 2013 under the headline “ICTR Speaks out on Genocide Cases in France.” This follows the visit of an ICTR delegation led by the Registrar Mr. Bongani Majola during which he also met with the Rwanda Minister for Justice Mr. Tharcisse Karugarama.

In that article you reported on the issue of the two ICTR cases which have been transferred to France and stated inter alia that the Registrar attributed their delay to structural concerns. You went on to write at length several scenarios which totally misrepresent the facts and reality on this matter.

We would therefore like, in our efforts to do justice to your readers, the ICTR and other stake holders, to reproduce below the statement issued by the Registrar on this important issue in regard to the two cases;

«The issue of the two cases transferred to France remains of concern. At the time of their transfer, the ICTR Rules permitted the Prosecutor to establish a monitoring mechanism, which he did. The ICTR Prosecutor, Mr Hassan Bubabcar Jallow, and his delegation traveled on several occasions to France where they met with the French Judicial Authorities to discuss the progress of those cases. The ICTR was made to understand that under the French legal system, the investigation phase takes longer than the actual trial which is often conducted within a short span of time.

The French judicial authorities also informed the ICTR that the recent establishment of a Special Unit composed of 3 magistrates, in charge of investigating and preparing cases of genocide and crimes against humanity for trial will now enable a speedy adjudication of the two cases. The ICTR has also received an indication that one of them is almost ready for trial.

A few years ago, having taken stock of the lessons learned, the ICTR Judges amended Rule 11 bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence concerning the transfer of cases to competent national jurisdictions, to enable judges to order monitoring, which they did in the cases of Uwinkindi and Munyagishari.

The reason for ordering monitoring was not because the judges were in doubt that the Courts in Rwanda would give the accused a fair trial. The order came in response to the argument made by the accused that they will not get a fair trial in Rwanda. That is why the judges decided to order the monitoring of the cases sent to Rwanda, which is in fact, aimed at ensuring that the monitoring mechanism provided reliable and accurate reports on the manner in which the trial is conducted after referral.

Monitoring is a useful tool for Rwanda, the accused and the ICTR in the sense that those reports will serve as crucial evidence in disputes as to the fairness of the trial. In December 2010, the Security Council established the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).

Pursuant to its Statute, the MICT is responsible for monitoring all cases referred under ICTR Rule 11 bis to national courts, with the assistance of international and regional organisations and bodies.

Upon the entry into force of the Arusha Branch of the MICT in July 2012, the monitoring function was duly transferred to the MICT.

The leadership of the MICT has already met with both the French and Rwandan Judicial Authorities to discuss the monitoring issues for all the cases that have been transferred. The MICT has also been making arrangements for monitoring the two cases referred to France. Meanwhile, the MICT has requested that ICTR continues to handle the purely administrative arrangements for monitoring the case of Uwinkindi, which is being carried out in the pre-trial phase by two ICTR legal officers, pending the conclusion of an agreement with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is the ICTR designated monitoring body for the Uwinkindi case.

Danford Mpumilwa is the Officer-in-Charge of the Communication Unit, UN-ICTR

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