Arusha, 7 October 2008 (FH) - The Registrar of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr Adama Dieng, has requested the UN Appeals Court to grant Canadian government an opportunity to be heard before deciding over an appeal filed by Andre Ntagerura, a former Rwandan Minister acquitted in 2004 of genocide, who seeks asylum in the North American country but the request has been unsuccessful so far.

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In his response, dated 24 September, the Registrar also denied any indiligence in seeking a host country for Mr Ntagegura, adding that protracted efforts have been made and are ongoing to find a home for the former Rwandan Transport and Communications Minister. "It is a priority of the Registry to continue working to secure Mr Ntagerura's relocation to a safe country."

Mr Ntagerura filed a motion last month, asking the UN Appeals Chamber to order Canada to grant him asylum as part of the North American country's obligation to co-operate with the UN.

An acquittal, confirmed by the Appeals Court, was not complete as long as the former defendant has not found a host country", wrote to five-panel Appeals Chamber, which is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, Philippe Larochelle, Ntagerura's lawyer." Such a de facto detention constitutes a permanent violation of the rights of Mr Ntagerura and requires the intervention of the Appeals Chamber", he stressed.

Mr Dieng stated in his five-page written submissions that the current living conditions of Ntagerura in an upper-class neighbourhood of Arusha and the services from which he benefits, including cooking, cleaning, laundry, information technology facilities , satellite television, security and transport "make his living conditions more comparable to those of the UN-ICTR staff member than of a detainee."

In the response, Mr Dieng reveals that Ntagerura's first choice of relocation was France, which apparently after several years of formal and informal requests, advised the Tribunal it was not in the position to admit Mr Ntagerura to its territory. Mr Ntagerura also indicated his willingness to be relocated to Canada, the United States and the Netherlands. "The Registry immediately made the required contacts with the governments of the said countries at all levels."

He also said that the former Rwandan minister has opposed any move by the Registry to engage in negotiations with other countries, especially in Africa, willing to host him, citing an example of Cameroon which gave Ntagerura and his wife asylum after he fled Rwanda in 1994, and which was still ready to accept him.

While engaging in bilateral negotiations, the Registrar submitted that he and the ICTR President, Justice Dennis Byron, each took opportunity to consistently raise the issue of the relocation of ICTR acquitted persons before the Security Council and requested member states assistance.The Appeals Court has yet to make a ruling over the matter.

Currently 18 convicted persons are yet to get a host country and are held at the UN Special Detention Facility (UNDF), on the outskirts of Arusha town.


© Hirondelle News Agency