As tribunal’s mandate nears conclusion
KIGALI - Members of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in collaboration with the Rwanda Bar Association, are meeting in Kigali for a week-long seminar on International Criminal Law.
The workshop, which is organised within the framework of cooperation between the ICTR and the government of Rwanda, is aimed at the capacity building of the Rwandan judiciary, in a move to raise competitiveness on the international scene.
The President of Kigali Bar Association, Vincent Karangwa, who officially opened the seminar on Monday, described the meeting as very important for the Rwandan jurists who will have to take over ICTR cases as the latter ends its mandate late this year.
The seminar is part of the tribunal’s completion strategy as it prepares to wind up all trials in the substantial phase at the end of this year.
Rwanda remains the primary destination of the trials that will remain after the tribunal closes.
“We hope the seminar will help us to sharpen our lawyers’ knowledge on international criminal law,” he said, adding that Rwanda has been doing its best to prepare for the arrival of the cases.
“Rwanda is putting more efforts to align our judiciary with international standards and we do not see any other obstacle for the transfer of cases.”
In this regard, among the key steps that have been taken include the abolition of the death penalty from Rwanda’s legal books and the general improvement of the detention facilities across the country.
Representing the ICTR’s chief Registrar, Senior Legal Officer, Roland Adjovi, said the transfer of cases will be decided by a judicial decision, but was quick to add that such a workshop is meant to increase the capacity of local practitioners in matters of international criminal law, the Arusha cases included.
“International Criminal Law is a field of expertise of the tribunal, so that is the only thing we can offer to the Rwandan jurists,” he said.
Topics to be discussed over the week include Genocide and Crimes against humanity, Trials before the ICTR, rights to legal assistance and an update on completion strategy among other issues.
The first similar session between ICTR and Rwandan Bar Association was organised in 2007, and the seminars are funded by the European Union.
Established by the UN Security Council late 1994, the ICTR has so far completed 43 trials, six of which are acquittals.