Arusha, 10 October 2008 (FH) - The United Nations General Assembly will hear Monday the President and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). It is notorious in Arusha that the limits assigned to this "ad hoc" institution will be exceeded.

1 min 24Approximate reading time

Initially scheduled for the end of this year, the end of the Tribunal was pushed back in July to the end of 2009. But with the arrest of new defendants, the refusal of the judges to authorize transfers to Rwanda and the increasing slowness of the proceedings, this new schedule is unrealistic, acknowledges all the actors of the Arusha trials. Jurists, lawyers and experts consider between two to five years the duration of the trials still to be achieved. A mission of the Security Council which visited the ICTR in September, however, stressed that the end of mandate was "realistic".

In 2007, only one judgment was rendered and the trials in progress, which involve more than a score of defendants, are lagging. For one of them, which involve officers, the debates are invariably stopped in the middle of the week for lack of witnesses. The next week no hearings will take place whereas six trials are in progress. Unofficially, the number of hearing hours is in reduction of more than 30% compared to the previous years.

With the exception of ICTR officials and the prosecutor, who must give status reports before the Security Council, the thousand employees of the Tribunal who see their employment becoming perennial are the first to be satisfied. A reduction of 30% of the personnel had been announced as a sign of good faith, but this measure was recently deferred.

Since its first hearing in 1997, three years after its creation, the court has tried 36 people, it still has nine to try if there are no other arrests. Twelve people are still wanted. At the end of last year, the ICTR had cost a billion dollars to the United Nations. Its budget for 2007/2008 is 267 million dollars. During the debates on the extension of the ICTR mandate, only Rwanda was clearly opposed; requesting, rather, that the United Nations finance the rehabilitation of its legal system, which was refused to it.


© Hirondelle News Agency