Arusha, July 26, 2001 (FH) - Speaking in his first press conference since appointment in March, Rwanda Tribunal Registrar Adama Dieng on Thursday promised to tackle the tribunal's problems in a new atmosphere of transparency. "It is really my true commitment to ensure that my management philosophy is based on team work and meritocracy," Dieng told journalists at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha.

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"And I am determined to advance the reform of the management culture in this Tribunal. "Dieng, a Senegalese who was formerly head of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) took over from Agwu Okali of Nigeria earlier this year. Okali had been Registrar for four years, but his contract was not renewed. The new Registrar said he had already begun tackling problems such as screening of defence investigators and possible abuse of the legal aid system; recruitment practices; witness protection; enforcement of sentences; cooperation with member states; and extension of the ICTR's "Outreach" programme in Rwanda. This includes plans for a UN radio in Rwanda, to bring the tribunal's activities to the "grassroots", he said. Dieng was speaking after a three-day visit to Rwanda last week during which he met with government officials, including the ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the president of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. "Discussions, of course, were centred around the strengthening of the cooperation between the ICTR and the Rwanda government," the Registrar told journalists. Defence investigatorsThe Registrar recently announced that four ICTR defence investigators had been sacked because they were either on Rwanda's Category One list of top genocide suspects or were under investigation by the Tribunal for involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. "As a long standing human rights activist, no-one - and I said no-one - can justifiably accuse me of insensitivity to the rights of the defence," he told the press. "But there is a big difference between human rights, and abuse of rights at the expense of the Tribunal. (. . . ) I will therefore do what is necessary to eliminate abuses of the legal aid system in the Tribunal. "British defence lawyer Diana Ellis, working with one of the sacked investigators in the team of genocide suspect Ferdinand Nahimana, says the ICTR has got the wrong person, and that the Tribunal neither consulted them nor investigated properly. Asked about this, Dieng replied: "I think one has to look into the matter. I mean I will not dismiss like that the representation made by that lawyer. " He said he had been assured that, contrary to Ellis's claim, defence lawyers had been informed prior to the decision, and that there seemed to be a "misunderstanding" between Ellis and the Registry official in charge of defence lawyers. He said he was now expecting to receive photographs to check whether Nahimana's defence investigator had been confused with another person of the same name on the Category One list. Asked why photos had not been requested beforehand, Dieng said he would have done so if he had suspected a case of mistaken identity. But he said the Tribunal had to be particularly careful given the case of investigator Siméon Nshamihigo, who was arrested for genocide in May after working at the ICTR under a false identity. "I have instructed the defence lawyers management section of the Registry to take all measures to eliminate abuses of the legal aid system," Dieng continued. "It is within that frame also that I have established a panel which is looking into the legal aid system. It is indeed following their first report that I had to take the measure regarding four investigators. ""Another important measure we are going to take," Dieng told journalists, "is the appointment of an investigator to look into the claims of indigence by accused persons, before assigning lawyers to such a person at the Tribunal's expense, as well as to check the backgrounds of defence investigators appointed by the defence counsel. " He said he hoped the UN would approve a post for such an investigator in the ICTR's next budget. "When I received the panel's report I noticed that there are investigators whose case will continue even to be monitored closely," said the Registrar. But he also stressed that other defence investigators were "beyond reproach" and that they should be acknowledged. New recruitment practices?One of the Tribunal's problems has been perceived to be a lack of competent staff in some areas, as well as high vacancy rates. The previous Registrar was accused by some people at the Tribunal of having promoted a culture of "favours for fidelity rather than competence". Following his departure, several people were sacked both in Prosecution and the Registry, which provoked some acrimonious allegations of racism. "I want really my tenure to remembered also with the word of transparency, fairness, justice," Dieng said on this issue, "and that is one of the reasons I am going to propose to the (UN) Secretary General a new Appointment Promotion Board (APB), because I want really that we start fresh. "There has been of course criticism here and there," he continued, "and I want really that we start having a process in which people will be recruited based on their competence. (…) And that is where I hope also that the staff association will play its role, that means that they will nominate people for the APB that are known for their integrity, etc. And the same with promotion. ""This is not a criticism of previous management," said Dieng, " but (…) I think we have been too generous with some staff members even, and we have to look into this matter. "JC/PHD/FH (RE0726e)