|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The nine men still wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda should not believe they have escaped justice, despite the conclusion of the court’s active phase, two high-ranking lawyers said at a Headquarters press conference today.
“We’re not resting,” declared Stephen J. Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the United States Department of State. “We’re going to continue to use the tools that we have to hand to bring these fugitives to justice.”
He went on to announce the renewal of his country’s commitment to the “Rewards for Justice” programme, established to pay individuals up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer or conviction of anyone indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Fourteen informants had already received confidential payments ranging in value depending on the usefulness of the information provided, the rank of the indicted person and the risks taken by the informant. The average reward paid was $400,000 and the largest was $2 million.
The Programme would apply to the Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals following completion of the active phase of the Tribunals, and had been expanded to include cases before the International Criminal Court, he continued. They included those of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, one of four fugitives from the International Criminal Court still at large, as well asBosco Ntaganda,former leader of theM23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who had turned himself in shortly after the expansion announcement. The rewards were not an “Old West bounty”, and the money would only be payable if the accused was alive, he stressed.
Accompanying Mr. Rapp was Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Residual Mechanism, who said he was pleased that the United States had renewed its commitment to the Programme. It had contributed to the Rwanda Tribunal’s “good record” of tracking and arresting fugitives responsible for “some of the most outrageous crimes in modern times”, he said, urging them to turn themselves in and accept the “very transparent, impartial and independent” judicial process.
“There is no time limit to the prosecution of these cases,” he emphasized, warning: “The Mechanism also will not relent. It will continue to track them. It will continue to look for them.” He stressed the importance of capturing the remaining fugitives, not only in order to uphold accountability and justice, but also to ensure peace and security in the Great Lakes region, where most of the fugitives were believed to be located. The Arusha branch of the Residual Mechanism would track the remaining suspects and try the top three suspects — Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana, he said, adding that the remaining six would be tried at the national level in Rwanda.
Asked how optimistic he was about the capture of the remaining suspects, Mr. Jallow said he was “still very optimistic”. The relaunch of the “Rewards for Justice” programme would encourage the public to participate, and the media could publicize the programme to help encourage further participation. Mr. Rapp added that seven fugitives had been captured since he had left the Rwanda Tribunal, which demonstrated continued progress.
When asked whether there was any mechanism for reconstituting the Tribunal after it closed, the Prosecutor said the Residual Mechanism was designed to take over from the Tribunal and would track the fugitives. Its court would be activated to hold trials following arrests. Evidence had been secured and certified in advance to mitigate the possibility of future witnesses being unable to testify in person.
Asked whether the Tribunal’s archives should be returned to Rwanda, Mr. Jallow said the archives belonged to the United Nations, and the Security Council had decided that they should be co-located with the Residual Mechanism. Some archives remained confidential and could, therefore, not be transferred into the national jurisdiction until they became public.
In reply to a question about Rwanda’s overall attitude towards the Tribunal, he said the relationship had generally been successful, and many Rwandans had served as witnesses for both the prosecution and the defence. Mr. Jallow added that Rwandans were generally very supportive of the process in Arusha. Rwanda had enacted legal reforms, including the abolition of the death penalty, as well as capacity-building efforts to strengthen the legal system so as to allow the transfer of cases.
Mr. Rapp then responded to a question about whether bounties would be paid for the arrest of LRA members, saying that a bipartisan deal in the United States Congress allowed the payment of rewards for information leading to the arrest of individuals charged with crimes against humanity.
* *** *