Global Policy Forum

Govt Official Casts Doubt on ICTR Modus Operandi


By Felly Kimenyi

New Times
May 17, 2006

Rwanda's Special Representative at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has expressed reservations about the preparations to wind up the hearing of cases before the expiration of the Tribunal's mandate in December 2008. In an exclusive interview, Aloys Mutabingwa told The New Times that Rwanda's exclusion from the process might jettison the good intentions the UN Security Council had when establishing the ad hoc Tribunal.

"The fact that we, as Rwandans in whose interests the Tribunal was set up are not being considered is a serious issue. The only time we are seen at the Council is when we are lodging various complaints.

"Our being sidelined is a direct breach to the UN Charter that provides for the sovereignty of any UN member state," Mutabingwa told this reporter yesterday, at his offices in Arusha. He also expressed concern at the re-classification of the inmates, saying the Tribunal has transcended its powers by grading them into high, middle and low ranking genocide suspects.

"According to various communications I have seen, the suspects who will be transferred to Kigali will fall under the middle-ranking category, yet this contravenes Resolution 955 of the UN Security Council, which set up the court," Mutabingwa elaborated. He added: "Initially, the Court had a mandate to try all the architects of the genocide, whose the original number was 700; but later, without any official communication, it was reduced to 300 and now they are talking of less than 100."

Mutabingwa also lamented about the double standards exhibited by the West in regard to the ICTR and other ad hoc tribunals like that of former Yugoslavia and East Timor. "Nothing has been done to build the capacity of the Rwandan judiciary. Also, some of the core members of the Security Council have deliberately refused to hand over the suspects whose indictments were issued, unlike what was done in the case of ICTY, " he said without mentioning the defiant countries.

Mutabingwa also said he had advised the tribunal's administration to work very closely with the recently-appointed Commission to oversee the transfer of cases to Rwanda. The Committee is headed by the Acting Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, while Mutabingwa is a member.

In a related development however, a list of genocide fugitives under Category One was released by the National Prosecution, in which it is indicated that western countries like France, Belgium and some Scandinavian countries harbour the biggest number of fugitives.

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