13.11.07 - BURUNDI/JUSTICE - A POLITICIAN ASKS FOR THE IMMEDIATE SET UP OF THE SPECIAL TRIBUNAL

  Bujumbura, 13 November 2007 (FH) - A high ranking Burundian political leader estimates that the Special Tribunal for Burundi (ST) should begin immediately, before even the beginning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
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"The opening of the TRC before the establishment of a Special Tribunal to try the crimes of genocide comes from trivialization and genocide negation", affirmed in a statement to the Hirondelle agency Gabriel Sinarinzi, president of a wing of the Uprona party (Union for National Progress, the pro-Tutsi opposition).
 
"When there is a genocide and that (this) genocide has been duly noted, the United Nations has the obligation to immediately create a Special Tribunal in any country", considers Sinarinzi; supported by another Burundian official, Diomède Rutamucero, president of Pa Amasekanya, an association for the prevention of genocide in Burundi.
 
According to the Belgian lawyer Stef Vandeginste, all the investigation commissions that have reported that acts of genocide were committed in Burundi "had no judicial power, their working method was limited". But "in the absence of a legal report, it is difficult to say that it is necessary to set up a Special Tribunal", explains Vandenginste, a professor at the University of Antwerp (Belgium).
 
The Burundian president, Pierre Nkurunziza, recently proceeded to the official launching of the work of the Steering Committee (SC), in charge of the national consultations on transitional justice; which includes two mechanisms: the TRC and the ST. This work, which should last approximately six months, should lead to the effective operation of one or the two institutions according to a schedule to be determined.
 
According to Jeannine Nahigombeye, head of the Global Rights Project, an American NGO which follows the evolution of Transitional Justice (TJ) in Burundi, "nothing is scheduled to date on what will be the work schedule of the two mechanisms".
 
Resulting from the Arusha Accords of August 2000, the TRC and the ST are two mechanisms of transitional justice which must establish and qualify the crimes committed in Burundi since independence in 1962. They will then decide to prosecute or not the authors of those crimes.
 
AG/PB/MM

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