Arusha, February 18, 2000 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday opened a public information centre on its activities, within the premises of the Tribunal, the independent news agency Hirondelle reports. The opening of this centre in Arusha is part of a wider programme to bring knowledge of the Tribunal to the local population in Tanzania and especially in Rwanda.

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The information centre in Arusha will be open every day. There the public can find brochures, press releases, technical information, videocassettes and electronic information on the activities of the ICTR. . Tribunal Chief Press and Information Officer Tom Kennedy told Hirondelle that a similar centre is due to open shortly in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The centre in Kigali will target all members of the Rwandan public, but especially people from the country's schools, universities and non-governmental organizations. It will offer information, documentation and seminars. Later, the ICTR plans to venture further into the countryside, to meet the Rwandan people who have the least access to information but who are the most concerned by justice issues, according to Kennedy. Funding for this project has yet to be determined. Speaking at the opening of the centre in Arusha, the ICTR Registrar, Agwu Okali said that if the public, and especially young people, familiarized themselves with the concept of accountability, this would help prevent conflicts such as the one that had led to the ICTR's creation. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Arusha District Commissioner, Aggrey Mwanri. "It is important," he said, "for us in Arusha and in this region in Africa to know what happened in Rwanda and to learn from mistakes committed there. "The opening of the ICTR's public information centre coincided with a prize-giving ceremony for schoolchildren who had won two competitions run by the ICTR last year for World Education Day. The themes were "the United Nations and Justice" and "the United Nations and Education". Children entering the competition produced poems, paintings and drawings on these two themes. Speaking at the prize-giving, Tribunal president Judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said the children had shown they were sensitive to issues of peace and justice. She said the Tribunal was set up to see serious offenders brought to justice and to put an end to the culture of impunity. "We are happy," she said, " that you, who will be the next generation of leaders, are sensitive to these issues . "CR/JC/PHD/FH (PR%0218e)