Rwanda UN war crimes tribunal urges States to hand over remaining suspects

Judge Andresia Vaz, Vice-President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), led the ceremony by asking for prayers for the souls of the estimated 800,000 victims of the killings. She laid a wreath at the site of a permanent monument, which honours both Rwandans and ICTR staff members who have died, in Arusha.Staff observed a minute’s silence after the wreath was laid and there were speeches from ICTR officials, staff and the leaders of local religious institutions.In a statement to mark the occasion, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan B. Jallow said the Tribunal’s work aims not just to provide justice to the victims of the genocide, but to also help promote peace and reconciliation in Rwanda.”It is meant to send a message to the rest of the world that there is an end to tolerance of impunity; that people who engage in such reprehensible conduct, particularly those in positions of leadership, will be held to account for their behaviour,” he said.Set up by the Security Council to try people responsible for the genocide and for other human rights violations during 1994, the ICTR has so far delivered 15 judgments involving 21 accused people, convicting 18 of them and acquitting three others. Nine of the convicted have been sentenced to jail for the rest of their lives.The trials of 21 other people are currently in progress, and two of them continued today. Another 21 people are in custody awaiting the start of their trial.Mr. Jallow said there are still many indicted suspects who remain at large, despite several Security Council resolutions urging States to arrest them and hand them over to the ICTR.He also said that countries could cooperate with the ICTR by agreeing to accept the transfer of the cases of some Arusha detainees to their domestic jurisdictions. The Tribunal is trying to clear its backlog so that it can meet a Security Council timetable requiring all work to be finished by 2010.”The rest of the world should support those States that are willing to accept cases but are constrained by resource difficulties,” Mr. Jallow said. read more