Kigali, March 25, 2002 (FH) - Two organisations of the 1994 Rwanda genocide survivors have accused fourteen investigators who are part of defence teams of detainees at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of genocide crimes and/or having family ties with the accused. The umbrella association of genocide survivors Ibuka ('remember') and the association of widows of the genocide, Avega, made the claims in a memorandum to the (ICTR), Registrar.

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This memorandum "will provide the proof requested" by the Registrar Adama Dieng on allegations by Ibuka and Avega which have accused the ICTR of malfunction. Consequently the two organizations suspended, last January, cooperation with the Tribunal. The memorandum revolves around four issues, including the problem of the investigators the associations are accusing, and the threat concerning the security of prosecution witnesses. Another issue raised is the "an ethical practices on the part of the defence in questioning vulnerable witnesses" and the lack of compensation for the witnesses. According to Ibuka and Avega, the investigators suspected of genocide crimes and/or family ties with suspects detained in Arusha are notably in the defence teams of Laurent Semanza, Mikaeli Muhimana, Sylvain Nsabimana, Jérôme Bicamumpaka, Joseph Kanyabashi, and Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. The associations add that some work under false identities. On the claim of "the serious threat concerning the security of prosecution witnesses," Ibuka and Avega cite a Rwandan parliamentarian who testified under anonymity in the Kayishema-Ruzindana case. They state that there emerged details of the testimony and on the witness's return to Kigali, he was "a subject of open threats by Kayishema's relatives before he was hit on February 24th, 1998, by a vehicle that awaited him in front of his residence. " The accident, which the victim, Ibuka and Avega term as intentional and planned "caused him serious injuries and a permanent disability. " The ICTR is yet to "respond to his compensation claims for the losses suffered and expenditure incurred," expenditure valued at more than thirty-nine thousand dollars, they say. Transmission of HIVIbuka and Avega also cited the case of three women who testified against (Juvénal) Kajelijeli (former Mukingo mayor detained by ICTR) "as victims of sexual violence (amputation of genital organs) infected with HIV. " When they returned from Arusha, "their testimonies were taken to Rwanda for the information of detainees co-authors of the genocide with Kajelijeli, and his family members," say the associations. Since then, the women have received death threats. Terrorised, they have ended up seeking refuge in Kigali where they have no homes, close relatives or means of survival. Ibuka stressed that this insecurity has been caused by the revelation of information on their testimonies and accused the ICTR of having suspended "with no explanation and without prior warning, medical assistance" albeit limited and minimal which it was providing them with. Ibuka and Avega refer to yet another example, of a family which requested anonymity on the case of Georges Rutaganda and while still in Arusha, received a long threatening letter, proving yet again that the identity of these "supposedly protected witnesses" had been revealed. According to the memorandum, to interrogate victims who suffered particularly painful experiences, ethics prohibits all acts, all gestures and all words that would aggravate their current status and that would disregard their human dignity. The text accuses the defence in the trials before the ICTR of ignoring these rules and precautions and of adopting an attitude to the contrary. The associations particularly took issue with questions put to rape victims, which they say are unethical and oblige the witnesses to revisit degrading incidents and respond to questions of the most embarrassing nature: "did you touch his sex? Did you take pleasure in the act? Why did you not interrupt the act if you did not find pleasure in it?"Lack of compensation for working hours lostIbuka and Avega conclude by saying that the three women from Ruhengeri (in the Kajelijeli case) and witness "TA" (who testified in the Butare case) and other victims of rape who testified under "these unacceptable methods" were traumatised and have had to undertake treatment without the assistance of the ICTR. The associations stress on the issue of compensation saying that one witness parliamentarian Adrien Rangira, had been scheduled to stay in Arusha for two days. However, he stayed more than a week at the expense of this work but a year later, he is yet to be compensated despite numerous reminders. In conclusion, Ibuka and Avega "consider that the victims of genocide do not want to continue having faith in a system of justice characterised by serious anomalies and total negation of the rights of the victim right up to their moral and physical integrity"The two associations state that the precondition for their restoring links with the ICTR is the putting in place of appropriate solution. Meantime, the Rwanda government has not yet appointed the two personalities who will sit in a Joint Committee proposed by the ICTR to examine the allegations, against it by the associations. WK/SW/FH (RW-0325e)