Arusha, 3 April,2008 (FH)-The newly established African Court for Human Rights has been urged to initiate dialogue with the United Nations with view to acquiring the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) when the latter closes down towards the end of the year.

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The Arusha-based UN Court, which is trying key suspects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has been directed by the UN Security Council to complete all first instance trials by December 2008 and Appeals by 2010.

"The closure of ICTR one hopes that the African Court will consider establishing contacts with UN authorities to acquire archives of the tribunal, which will be very useful for consolidation of African jurisprudence," said Wallace Kapaya, a Senior Trial Attorney, when presenting a paper at the Regional conference on Human rights Tuesday.

Currently a study was underway on the future of the archives of both the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (which is also to close down this year). The study is chaired by ex-ICTR and ICTY Prosecutor, Richard Goldstone. The archives are composed of large amounts of evidences, statements and video recordings, among others. The interim report was expected to be out by first quarter of this year.

"The African Court [also in Arusha] will finally become the base for resolution of human rights violations emanating from African political systems," The Tanzanian attorney told human rights experts, academicians, judges and legal observers from East and Central African countries. The conference, which was organized by the East African Law Society (EALS), was deliberating on the African Court's relevance, challenges and prospects viz a vie Regional Human Rights Systems.

The African Court, he said, would act as machinery by which human rights concerns would be addressed within a particular social, historical and political context of the African continent." The African Human Rights System is more likely to succeed as it paves way, and will finally consolidate the political and cultural, judicial traditions and institutions within the region," he stressed.

"The adoption of the protocol to establish an African Human and People's Rights Court is an evolution in the African government's commitment to achieve effective and complete human rights protection, he said, underlining that despite the optimism inspired by the attainment of independence and the creation of the African Union, the continent generally has failed to comply with international human rights norms.

Giving examples of recent human rights problems in Kenya , the Rwandan 1994 genocide, the ongoing political strifes in Southern Sudan, North and Western Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Congo Brazzaville and Somalia, Mr Kapaya pointed out that the conflicts have left hundreds dead and have violated many other rights and fundamental freedoms.

He added:" Even within the largely ‘democratic' or ‘liberal' African states,governments and civil servants have acted in ways anti-ethical to international human rights obligations.

The Court was established by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Protocol adopted by members states in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in June 1998. The Protocol entered into force in January 2004.

The Court started its operations in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia in November 2006 but moved to its permanent seat in Arusha in August, last year.


© Hirondelle News Agency