UN genocide tribunal says it's on track to bring Rwandan criminals to justice by 2008

26 September 2005 –

The United Nations international criminal court for the 1994 Rwanda genocide says that it is "on course" to complete the trials of some 65 to 70 criminals accused of committing genocide and other crimes against humanity by 2008, the date set by the Security Council.

So far 22 persons have been convicted and three acquitted, with 25 additional people on trial, including one Prime Minister, 11 Government ministers and many other high ranking officials, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) says in a report to the Security Council and the General Assembly. So far, a total of 71 people have been arrested in connection with genocide charges.

The court also says that it had been able to speed up the 25 cases it has on the dockets to complete them in the timeframe agreed by the Security Council thanks to the addition of 4 more ad litem judges bringing the total to nine, and the building of another court chamber financed by the governments of Norway and United Kingdom. The ICTR currently has 16 permanent judges as well.

The Prosecutor's Office reports that it has stepped up its tracking activities in pursuit of fugitives and has visited a number of African countries in search of them. The Prosecutor also made all new cases "trial-ready" so as to have cases in the pipeline whenever a Trial Chamber became available.

The cooperation of the Rwandan Government has been an element in the Tribunal's success as has the cooperation by Member States in the arrest and transfer of suspects, though a freeze by the United States in the financing of new staff in early 2004 temporarily threatened their progress, the report says.

Much of the success of the tribunal can be attributed to continued monetary support, facilitation of travel documents for witnesses, and openness to discuss changes in location of jurisprudence by UN Member States.

In addition to bringing justice to victims, the court has been able to "establish a record of facts that can aid reconciliation in Rwanda," and "a legacy of international jurisprudence that can guide future courts and deter the future commission of these grave crimes," the report says.

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