16.04.08 - ICTR/ICC - ARBIA SAYS UN COMPLETION STRATEGY RISKS OF INADEQUATE ACTION AGAINST IMPUNITY

Arusha,16 April,2008 (FH)-The new Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sylvana Arbia, has cautioned that the UN Security Council's strategy for the completion of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) mandate risks of inadequate action against impunity "especially because most national jurisdictions are not able or not willing to prosecute ICTR cases."

 

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The Security Council has directed to close all first instance trials by end of the year and the appeals by 2010.

In her maiden interview since taking up her office in The Hague, the former ICTR Chief of Prosecutions told Hirondelle Agency that the Security Council's decision had created additional limitations to the prosecutions." A lot of work for the preparation of trials has been frustrated because of those limitations," she added.

"It is my view that before taking such a decision the Security Council should have ensured actions aimed at making the national jurisdiction ready for a transition," said 54-year-old Ms Arbia, an experienced Italian lawyer, who had prepared 12 indictments which were all confirmed and had been in charge of 22 pre-trail cases at the ICTR before assuming last week her new five-year post.

Ms Arbia was also in charge of the ICTR's biggest and largest trial popularly referred as "Butare Trial" which is currently underway. The Trial includes the only woman, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, ex-Rwandan Minister for Family and Women Affairs during the 1994 genocide.

On ICC, Ms Arbia said among the first things she intended to undertake was to fill vacancies with view to enhancing efficiency.

She considered modern organization of the court management before the start of the first trial this year "involving for the first in the history of the international criminal justice, the participation of the victims."

Ms Arbia said her experience at the ICTR would be an asset for the ICC.

The soft spoken top attorney stressed that ICC's role was crucial for global justice, especially in areas where judiciary was not effectively independent from other public powers.

Ms Arbia has replaced French magistrate Bruno Cathala, who is expected to take the chair of Court of First Instance near Paris.

Cathala set up ICC in 2002 after having left the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where he had also created an association of defence counsels.

Recipient of a Master's degree in law acquired in 1976 from the University of Padua, Italy, Ms Arbia practiced as a lawyer and later as a magistrate in various courts. She initially was a prosecutor and judge in Venice, Rome and Milan. There, she chaired the first criminal chamber of the Court of Appeal and in particular dealt with cases of organized crime (Mafia) and sexual assault. Before joining the ICTR in 1999, she had been for several months a judge at the Supreme Court and the Final Court of Appeal of Italy.

She was also member of the Italian delegation during the 1998 diplomatic negotiations for drafting of the Treaty of Rome.

She was promoted to the post of ICTR chief of prosecution in June 2007, succeeding Steven Rapp, who was appointed the Prosecutor for the UN Sierra Leonean Tribunal.

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