19.05.08 - ICTR/ACQUITTAL - ICTR PLEADS TO UN-MEMBER COUNTRIES TO ACCEPT GENOCIDE ACQUITTED PERSONS

 Arusha, 19 May 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Chamber has reminded the international community, from which it draws its mandate, to receive genocide acquitted persons from the UN Court, reports Hirondelle Agency.
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The Chamber's decision was posted on Monday in the tribunal's website.

It is the first time that appeal, made on several occasions before the UN by the officials of the tribunal, was formulated in court proceedings.

"The Chamber reminds that the tribunal has a limited temporal existence and that the current situation where people who were acquitted remain, de facto, under the responsibility of the tribunal can not persist indefinitely", stated the decision.

"The co-operation of all countries that form the international community, from which the tribunal draws its mandate, is more than ever necessary in this critical phase of the end of its mandate", added the ruling.

The UN Security Council has ordered that all first instance ICTR trials must be completed by end of this year.

The decision was rendered by Chamber following a motion filed by an acquitted former Rwandan Minister for Transport, Andre Ntagerura, who is having trouble obtaining asylum in Canada.

On 24 October, he had seized the president of the tribunal with a motion with the purpose of having Canada co-operate and to report to the Security Council the lack of co-operation of the country.

On 31 March, the president rejected the request to report to the Security Council, considering it premature.

In launching its appeal to the international community, the chamber noted, however, that it could not conclude that an order requiring the co-operation of Canada was necessary, insofar as, the Canadian government agreed to engage, with the administration of the ICTR, in consultations about Ntagerura.

The Chamber also asked that the Registrar start consultations with another country for the relocation of the former minister.

Minister for Transport in the interim government during the 1994 genocide, Ntagerura was acquitted in first instance on 25 February 2004 and in Appeal on 8 February 2006.

Since then, he has been staying at the expenses of the tribunal in a safe house in Arusha, Tanzania, a residence which he also shares with another person who was acquitted, the former Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Andre Rwamakuba. The latter also has yet to get a host country.

The statute of the tribunal explicitly requires the co-operation of countries for the arrest and the transfer of defendants, but it is silent on the fate of persons who are acquitted, obligating the Registrar, who is head of the administration and foreign relations of the ICTR, to negotiate with the UN member countries, who established the court in November 1994 to try key suspects of the April-July killings.

Out the five acquitted persons to date, two were relocated to France and another in Belgium.

ER/PB/MM/SC

© Hirondelle News Agency