ARUSHA,15 February 2008(FH)- An omission in President George Bush's itinerary to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha , trying key suspects of the 1994 genocide, is considered by observers as serious oversight and a big drawback to global efforts of building democracy, equality and good governance.

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Mr Bush starts a four-day state visit of Tanzania on Saturday. He is planned to visit Arusha on Monday and is expected to tour local district hospital and a factory manufacturing malaria-treated nets.

The ICTR, one of the show piece of global community's determination to fight culture of impunity and a shinning example of world's united efforts for peace in Rwanda and other Great Lakes region, is the first post second world war's international tribunal trying people who committed genocide and rape, as a weapon for mass elimination of an ethnic group.

The ICTR's Head of Information, Bocar Sy, confirmed to Hirondelle Agency that President Bush is not in their list of visitors during the trip.

‘'United States is considered as the world champion against any form of discrimination, hatred or any evil that degrades a human being or peoples of any nation. The oversight of not coming to see what global judicial
experts are doing at the ICTR is a big miss in President Bush's visit to Arusha, and Tanzania at large,'' said Simon Mapolu, an independent management consultant based in Arusha.

‘'The oversight can greatly undermine President Bush's perceived course of free and tolerant world,'' he added.

More than 800 people from different parts of the world (including US) have created the world's first genocide ad hoc tribunal that is trying suspects of one of the modern century's crudest form of killings-machetes,knives,nail-studded sticks and iron bars, among others.

According to UN estimates, about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July 1994 mass slaughter.

The former US President Bill Clinton has publicly apologised for the genocide as well as the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

To date, the ICTR remains the best jurisprudence to try genocide and war crimes suspects, although the International Criminal Court (ICC) has just indicted some suspects of war crimes.

The ICTR was created from the scratch and judicial experts and judges had to establish rules and regulations on how to try and judge genocide suspects.

‘'Skipping ICTR in President Bush's visit is not fair. He is man who has stressed on world democracy and freedom of mankind. Downplaying ICTR is tantamount to undermining genuine efforts made to end culture of impunity in Great Lakes region, and world at large,'' remarked a seasoned journalist, Nicodemus Ikonko, based in Dar es Salaam but who also had a privilege to cover the tribunal for more than eight years for an independent news agency in 1990s up to 2004.

A prominent Arusha businessman, Walter Maeda, said that United States is one of the largest contributors to the United Nations budget "and I consider it should have been very obvious for Mr Bush to be interested in seeing the operations of the ICTR."

A defence lawyer at the UN Court, Patrice Monthe, was happy that the US President has skipped ICTR in his diary: "What the US is doing in the Guantanamo Bay,[for that reason] we don't need Bush to come here (ICTR)."

Set up in November 1994 by the United Nations Security Council, the tribunal has to date rendered 35 judgements, resulting in 30 convictions and five acquittals.

Currently eleven trials are in progress involving 27 accused, according to the ICTR Prosecutor's spokesman, Tim Gallimore.

He said nine accused are awaiting the start of their trial.

The UN has set a deadline of December 2008 for first instance trials and appeals by 2010.

© Hirondelle News Agency