Arusha, 16 November 2007 (FH) - Two lawyers responsible for examining the future and the future use of the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have been in Arusha since the beginning of the week and should then go to Rwanda.   

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The Tanzanian Judge Mohamed Chande Othman, judge of the Supreme Court of Tanzania, former chief Prosecutor for the transitory administration of the United Nations in Timor-Leste, and Saliou Mbaye, former director of public records in Senegal, have met all week with various officials of the ICTR archives. They will also stay next week in Arusha.
In addition to the written documents, motions, decisions, judgments, transcripts, the ICTR ensures since September 2000 the audio-visual recording of the proceedings. Several tens of thousands of hours of recording have thus been stored. They are currently stored in refrigerated containers.
The future of these documents is the subject of a study requested by the registrars of the two tribunals and entrusted to a commission presided by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, former ICTY and the ICTR prosecutor. Designated on 8 October, this commission must, by April 2008, propose to the United Nations Security Council solutions for conservation, management and the rules of consultation.
These archives have already been claimed by Rwanda, which considers that it concerns their historical heritage. This request was denounced by historians, including Belgian Filip Reytjens, and worries lawyers of the tribunal. The archives indeed contain the entirety of witness testimonies, under protection and their identities. Many witnesses, whether for the defence or the prosecution, agreed to testify under condition that their anonymity was preserved. Strict limitations are thus awaited for the consultation of these archives.
Within the framework of the completion strategy of the tribunal, the first instance trials must be completed by the end of 2008, several trials should, however, be prolonged. The trials in appeal will proceed in The Hague until 2010. From this date, the archives should be entrusted to an institution created for this purpose by the United Nations. The government of the Netherlands has already proposed to host them in a building which could be built for this purpose in The Hague.

© Hirondelle News Agency