Arusha, 27 February 2009 (FH)-The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has exhorted East and Central African countries to help to arrest Rwanda genocide fugitives reportedly hiding in the region.

2 min 7Approximate reading time

Addressing UN-ICTR staff  during a visit Friday to the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), trying key suspects of the 1994 genocide, Mr Ban said that the suspect countries must increase their efforts in nabbing the fugitives.  Mr Ban is in Tanzania as part of his two-day official tour and is expected this evening to leave for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I call upon all the states in the region (East and Central Africa) to increase their support in tracking down and arresting all of them [fugitives]," he stressed, apparently reacting to a speech by ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, who informed the Secretary General that intelligence reports gathered point that the remaining 13 key suspects have found safe heavens in some of the states in the region.

Among the most wanted fugitive, Felician Kabuga, who also has a US $ five million bounty from the United States government, is claimed to be hiding in Kenya, although Nairobi has denied it. Kabuga  was allegedly main financier of the genocide.

Mr Ban also reaffirmed that no perpetrator or potential perpetrator of human crimes would be left to escape justice or culture of impunity. "Human dignity must be protected," he added.

On the completion strategy of ICTR, the UN boss urged the judges and the staff to double their efforts to ensure that trials are completed by the end of this year, as directed by the UN Security last December, "but should take care not to compromise the rights of the accused."

"The workload this year is challenging" he told the UN staff.

The unfinished work of the ICTR, he added, would be taken care by the residual mechanism which would be announced by the UN Security Council. "The Security Council is looking at the issue,' he emphasized.

The UN Tribunal, which was set up immediately after the Rwanda slaughter, has contributed to reconciliation and peace in Rwanda and the neighbouring countries, he said, adding: "I feel proud what ICTR has achieved," he added.

The ICTR Registrar, Mr Adama Dieng, informed the UN chief that the Tribunal was challenged at retaining their qualified staff, who are leaving ahead of the closure of the Court.

This was Mr Ban's first official ICTR visit since he was appointed about two years go to the UN's top-most position. He is the second UN seating Secretary General to visit ICTR after the visit of Koffi Annan in 1999.   

ICTR was established by the UN Security Council 15 years ago and is the first international tribunal since the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg (1946) to hand down a judgement against a head of government.

It is also the first international Tribunal to interpret the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Geneva Conventions.

The UN Court, which is the largest single undertaking by the global body in Tanzania, has so far convicted 38 persons and acquitted six.

According to UN estimates, the 100-day slaughter left nearly 800,000 dead, most of whom were Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Ban Ki-moon's five-nation African tour started early this week in South Africa. He will also visit Rwanda and Egypt.


© Hirondelle News Agency