Arusha, 18 July 2008 (FH) — Rwanda has objected to an extension of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) judges’ mandate, instead she has asked the United Nations to redirect that resources at improving her judicial capacity, reports Hirondelle Agency. The extension was requested by the ICTR to allow smooth continuation of the on-going and new trials at the UN Court, trying key suspects of the 1994 genocide.

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The April-July slaughter, according to UN, claimed lives of about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
“Rather than extending the terms of judges, efforts and resources should be redirected at further improving Rwanda’s capacity to deal with cases referred by the Tribunal to its national courts[ although three of the five such cases have already been rejected by chambers on grounds that the suspects may not get a fair trial],’’ Joseph Nsengimana,Rwanda’s representative to the UN told a preparatory meeting of the General Assembly Committee drawing the agenda for the 62nd meeting scheduled for a week beginning September 23.
He further added: “Low-level cases were already being transferred to national courts, where improvements had been modeled after the Tribunal. New facilities had been built for the detention of the accused and for incarceration of the convicted.”
Never the less, the committee proceeded to action, approving the recommendation to extend the terms of office of trial chambers until December 2009 and those of Appeals Chamber until 31 December 2010. Both had been due to expire on 31 December of this year.
The committee also approved the decision to consider the item directly in plenary as it will result in additional resource requirement of approximately US Dollars 1.5 million for 2009.
There are a total 20 judges at the ICTR-- nine permanent , nine ad litem (temporary) and two Appeals Court.
The ICTR President and Prosecutor, Justice Dennis Byron and Justice Hassan Jallow respectively, last month sought from the UN Security Council an additional one year for smooth completion of trials. They argued that the deadline of December 2008 for first instance trials was not realistic.
Regarding 13 key accused who are still at large, the ICTR considers that four of them must be tried before the Tribunal in case of their arrest.
A recent ICTR document pointed that an individual trial takes approximately ten months and seven defendants are still awaiting trials.
With three chambers in operation at the ICTR, theoretically the tribunal’s work goes beyond 2010, the scheduled date for the end of Appeal procedures.
The ICTR, has since its first hearing in January 1997, tried 36 people—31 convictions and five acquittals.
Twenty eight others are currently on trial, seven on standby and 13 are on the run. One suspect is awaiting transfer from Germany.
At the end of 2007, it has cost more than a billion US dollars. Its budget for 2008/2009, voted last January in New York, was US dollars 267 million.