ARUSHA - The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, will today address a town hall meeting set to be attended by staff members of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), The New Times has established.
Ban makes the Arusha visit amid rife speculation that he will look into other serious concerns that might have a bearing on whether the tribunal will realize its completion strategy come the end of the year.
The UN Security Council has given the tribunal until the end of this year to have disposed off all ongoing first instance trials, while appeals are supposed to have been concluded by next year.
Without divulging details, ICTR Spokesperson Roland Amoussouga, told the press Monday that the UN chief will be coming to ‘listen’ to his staff.
“He is coming to observe how the workforce is doing and to listen to our concerns,” Amoussouga said, after reporters pressed him to know what the topic of discussion will be.
The UN Secretary General, who will be leading a twenty-man delegation, will arrive at the Arusha- based tribunal after addressing the diplomatic and academic community in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital. He will also visit Rwanda, DR Congo and South Africa.
ICTR staff members represent more than 80 different nationalities making the tribunal the most internationally diverse UN duty station outside the UN headquarters in New York.
According to sources from within the tribunal, the main factor straining the capacity of ICTR is the denial of Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow’s requests to refer four cases to Rwanda for trial, even after Rwanda had shown readiness and willingness to handle the cases.
The four cases that were blocked by the judges for transfer to Rwanda include one of former Mayor of Murambi Commune Jean Baptiste Gatete, who is currently detained at the ICTR facility.
The tribunal has also been beset by resignations of senior staff members, drawing doubt on whether it will meet its completion target.
In reference to the recent resignation of the ICTR Deputy Registrar Everard O’Donell, Amoussouga denied that the continuous resignations can impact negatively on the tribunal’s progress of finishing first instance trials by end of this year.
“Nobody is irreplaceable. At this stage we are all asked to redouble our efforts, if your colleague is not there, you have to extend a helping hand until a new person is in that particular position.”
Early this year, the ICTR President Dennis Byron pointed out the work load that the ICTR still has to handle, adding that the referrals have formed an integral part of the completion strategy.
“Instead of the decrease in workload that might have been expected as we move towards the completion of our mandate, we are now confronted with these ten new cases,” he said.
He added: “At the same time, we are faced with the resignation of three judges, two permanent and one ad litem, by the end of 2008. Four additional judges - three permanent and one ad litem - have announced their intention to resign after the judgements in their current cases have been delivered.”
As a result of this, three new ad litem judges were appointed by the UN Secretary General and have already started work at the tribunal.
ICTR was established in 1994 by the UN Security Council for the prosecution of persons responsible for masterminding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Since its establishment 42 cases have been completed, a fact that have had analysts question the court’s capacity to handle the remaining ten cases, which have not even begun and are set to be completed in the remaining months to the end of the year.