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Arusha, March 9, 2007 (FH) – Allison Des Forges, in charge of African Affairs for Human Rights Watch and renowned expert witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) surmised on the ten year anniversary of the tribunal that its accomplishments have been “laudable” even if “it is insisted that we can expect better.” “50 years after having accepted the ideas of international law, this is something to applaud,” she told the Hirondelle Agency in an interview 10 years after the first hearing at the ICTR that took place in January 1997. “First it should be noticed that it is essential that it exists because if this tribunal weren’t here, the most important accused individuals, those who organized the genocide, would probably never have been tried before the courts. Even if there are faults, and there are many, and errors and slowness, this tribunal has all the same succeeded in prosecuting almost all the people who were at the most important posts.” “This tribunal has ambitious goals and has placed itself in a position to accomplish them. It’s a little like living in a house under construction and there are times when it rains and the roof lets through water. It’s a work in progress, something that is in the process of being done and of course there are problems.” Hirondelle : In your opinion, the plan (of genocide) hasn’t yet been proven? This isn’t exactly true, the planning has been well established. As for the genocide? You know that for genocide, it’s a question of intent. What has been established is that there was a plan for violence against civilian ethnic Tutsis. That is clear and there is no doubt. We now have a series of documents and testimonies that establish that there was a plan whose objective was to organize the civilian population to attack those people identified either as enemies or those people who had been identified on an ethnic basis…After April 6, this planning turned into the goal of genocide. But rather ridiculous distinctions have been reached. It is not essential to establish that in each person’s head who knew about it the intent was genocide. I’ve always said that there was a plan for a system of violence. Hirondelle : The Tribunal however hasn’t succeeded in covering its mandate. That’s exactly right, there is no doubt. Fortunately, we’re still not at the end of operations, so there’s always hope. Would this have been useful for the Office of the Prosecutor to establish that in a clearer way or not to? Evidently, a decision was taken by political considerations in this direction or a decision was avoided. As for the plan, I’m not a legal scholar and I accept that there are certain jurists who say that there is a debate. What is essential is that the truth is established if this isn’t in the Tribunal’s mandate so an investigatory commission is necessary, when one sees resources invested in the investigation of the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister. From history’s perspective, from the point of view of the degree of the lives lost, there is no doubt. Hirondelle: The three secret indictments of the prosecutor concerning the RPF and the rumor circulated on the three cases that could be transferred to Rwanda? I’ve also heard about these three indictments, as for their transfer I’m not convinced. The judge’s approval is necessary for that, we already saw a refusal for Norway and now for the Netherlands the judges have submitted a very, very detailed question. It is not automatic so it remains to be seen whether or not they will accept it. Hirondelle : The Tribunal could commence arguing a scheduling problem in view of the deadline of December 31, 2008. Do you find this normal? There is a problem. HRW has tried to encourage the people of the tribunal to demand an extension in operations like what was done for the former Yugoslavia. Why not ask for the same thing here? For me, that would be the most reasonable solution. I know that the officials responsible for the Tribunal are categorical but I don’t know why. Hirondelle : Can the prosecutor practically permit prosecution of the RPF? That was the logic of its position: I can’t do that because I need the cooperation of the Rwandan government. We have seen with Mrs. Del Ponte a few years ago that the reaction of the Rwandan government was to interrupt cooperation. But we’re finished with the cases of the accused who require the most testimony in the interior of the country and I think that at some time we will have cases that can be finished with witnesses from the exterior…Since the start, it has been recognized that this would be impossible to do at once, I’m not exactly convinced…That was the interest of the international community. At this time, it’s foremost genocide which preoccupies the world and to careful not to have been perceived as a lack of diligence. Hirondelle : You’re finishing your twelfth testimony as an expert in the Renzaho trial, you will come back in Karemara. For me, it’s a special and exceptional experience. There was an atmosphere of respect between the parties that one does not always find and it’s very difficult to work in an atmosphere where the parties are in open conflict and where the judges don’t exactly control the situation. One is distracted, one is tempted to say things in a harsh way, to not stay calm and serene. I’ve found these last two days exceptional and we should give credit to the judges, to the defense lawyer and to the prosecutor for having worked in an atmosphere of mutual respect. PB-ER/KD © Hirondelle News Agency