•Transfer of ICTR cases to Rwanda top on agenda
The United Nations Deputy Secretary General for Legal Affairs and UN Counsel, Patricia O’ Brien, is expected in the country early next week to discuss the seemingly imminent transfer of ICTR cases to Rwanda.
The development was confirmed yesterday by Alloys Mutabingwa, Rwanda’s Special Envoy to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which is left with until the end of next year to close down.
“She is coming and we shall discuss the residual mechanism of the ICTR and legacy matters. We shall talk about what follows after the tribunal closes down and we have put all our concerns before the UN Security Council,” said Mutabingwa.
Rwanda’s concerns, according to Mutabingwa, include the way forward for the unfinished trials, the archives of the tribunal, what happens to the convicts and the impending ICTR reluctance to transfer the convicts to Rwanda.
“Our facilities meet all international requirements and the law makes Rwanda the primary destination for these convicts to complete their sentences here,” said Mutabingwa.
The residual mechanism is a process that will aim at addressing and managing issues that will not have been settled at the end of all ICTR first instance trials slated for the end of this year as the UN Security Council had directed.
According to Mutabingwa, the Security Council assigned the UN Secretary General to develop a mechanism that will ensure a smooth transition.
The trials that are expected to have been concluded by the ICTR this year are those on first instance while appeals have until the end of next year before the court closes down completely.
Despite having been in existence since 1995, the tribunal, which was established by the UN to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has completed 41 trials and five of them were acquittals.
Meanwhile, Mutabingwa expressed optimism that the talks with O’Brien would yield something saying that she had already held talks with government officials in December last year, on the sidelines of the UN Security Council.
The transfers, if they take place, will come after previous failed efforts to have some cases transferred to Rwanda even before the court closes down.
Last year, the Trial Chamber blocked the application by the ICTR Chief Prosecutor Bubacar Jallow to transfer five cases to Rwanda.