Arusha, 30 December 2008 (FH) - The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in an uncomfortable position; it is stuck between its will to fairly try all the people whom it accuses of having organized the 1994 genocide and the United Nations wish to see it complete its work as soon as possible.

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The UN Security Council, which created it in 1994, recognized last July that its task would not be completed by the end of this year as it was planned. It accorded to ICTR, as with its counterpart the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a one year extension until the end of 2009, but the momentum seems to have disappeared.

In 2007, only three trials of alleged organizers of the genocide started and even if the registry insists on the obligation to accelerate the proceedings, the motivation sems to be fading. Already many lawyers have gone to other courts. The judges seem to be doing the same. On 18, four have resigned; three others are on the point of doing so. These departures logically imply new delays.

To satisfy its sponsors, President of ICTR, Sir Dennis Byron, announced in October that the year to come would be the most effective with judgments for 38 accused in 14 months. Recently, he had to take back some and limit himself to the end of the cases by the end of 2009 for the ten defendants who still remain to be tried. What amounts to admitting that the trials will be extended beyond that point.

Since its creation and its first hearing in 1997, the Tribunal has tried 47 people. The chambers have until now refused that some of these defendants are transferred to Rwandan justice. Rwanda and the office of the prosecutor still seem to believe in this solution, but the judges, who are at their fifth rejection, will have trouble to retract.


© Hirondelle News Agency