Global Policy Forum

Uphold International Justice, Official Says

Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 26, 2004

International justice systems must be retained for effective prosecution of perpetrators of serious crimes, an official of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said on Thursday. ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow said international courts such as the ICTR, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone have proven viable in ensuring the prosecution of people bearing the greatest responsibility for crimes.

He was speaking at the beginning of a three-day colloquium of prosecutors in Arusha, Tanzania, which is also the headquarters of the Rwanda tribunal. "We should now accept that large-scale brutal violations of human rights such as occurred on the level the world witnessed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia cannot be effectively dealt with through national systems or other quasi-criminal international procedures. The International penal sanction and option must be retained," he said.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo and the prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David Crane, are among 80 international judiciary experts attending the colloquium, whose theme is "Challenges of International Criminal Justice".

Jallow called for increased support for international justice systems to facilitate investigations, apprehension and transfer of suspects. "It [international justice] must be applied to hold those bearing the greatest responsibility as the ICTR, ICTY and Special Court for Sierra Leone have done in the case of former heads of state, heads of government, cabinet ministers, heads of local government and leaders of the military," he said. "International criminal justice is, despite all its constraints, challenges and shortcomings, is viable and feasible," he added. "It is necessary if peace and justice is to be maintained."

The prosecutors' colloquium coincides with the 10th anniversary of the ICTR. The UN Security Council established the tribunal in 1994 to bring to trial the perpetrators of the April-July 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Rwandan government estimates that 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus died in the genocide. Currently, the tribunal has 70 suspects in its custody, and trials of 25 of them are ongoing while 18 others are awaiting trial. It has handed down 23 judgments since its inception, including three acquittals.

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