True to the old adage, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) “works in mysterious ways”.The most memorable incident was when the ICTR recently decided to transfer over a dozen convicts to serve their sentences in Mali and Benin without even having the courtesy of informing Rwanda. To make matters worse, the ICTR Registrar had, just a couple of days earlier, held “frank and sincere” talks with Rwanda’s Prosecutor General who was not amused by the shroud of secrecy surrounding the transfers.
Definitely on the agenda was the possible transfer of convicts to serve their terms where they committed the crimes, as well as unblocking the impasse on transferring some cases to be tried in Kigali.
But what seems to preoccupy the tribunal is the race against time as its deadline to close shop nears. Is it surprising that some of the recent transferees have been waiting for more than six years to begin serving their sentences in the five countries — plus Rwanda — that have shown willingness to host them? Not at all; that’s the pace the tribunal is accustomed to.
One need not look further than another trial that has just ended; that of the former Prefet (Governor) of Kigali City, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, who was found guilty this week of Genocide and sentenced to life in prison.
Despite the colonel having been arrested in the DRC in September 2002, his trial only commenced in January 2007 (five years later).
With his appeal still on the drawing board (and those of seven others), it is very unlikely that they will beat the deadline.
Maybe it’s about time the Rwandan Prosecution stopped contemplating picking crumbs from the ICTR’s table, because that is what they will ever hope of getting— if they are ever allowed near the table.
The worst scenario is if Rwanda is given one of the five cases (small fish) awaiting trial to handle; the ICTR will jump on the PR bandwagon, and we will never hear the end of their condescending gloating that they threw us a bone in the name of international justice, and we desperately swallowed it whole.
Our motto during this year’s Liberation 15 celebrations was “Dignity is our strength”, and we need not look further.