Arusha, 18 March 2009 (FH) - The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and Rwandan government Wednesday signed an accord in which Kigali has agreed to receive convicted persons, reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The accord was signed in Kigali between the Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Rosemary Museminali and SCSL Registrar, Hermann von Hebel, reported Rwanda radio.

 Also present at the ceremony was Rwandan Minister for Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, who stated that the accord was demonstration of the international community's determination to eradicate the culture of impunity.

He seized the occasion to urge the international community to track all the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide, which resulted in his country in nearly 800 000 people killed, according to the UN estimates, primarily ethnic Tutsis.

According to the agreement, the convicts of SCSL will be those whose sentences vary between 15 and 50 years in prison, added the radio.

Rwanda will be responsible for provision of food and ensuring the convicts safety.

They will be held at the prison of Mpanga, in southern Rwanda, a detention centre built by the Rwandan government in the hope of receiving convicts from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania.

No prisoner from the Arusha tribunal has been transferred to Kigali despite many requests from the Rwandan authorities.

The SCSL is tasked to try key persons responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and certain crimes envisaged by the law in Sierra Leone committed since 30 November 1996, the date of the Abidjan (Ivory Coast) Accords, which had tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the crisis.

The SCSL differs from the other tribunals created by the UN Security Council. It is not an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. Whereas the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) have their headquarters respectively in The Hague and in Arusha, the SCSL sits in the country where the crimes were committed.

In particular, this court was part of the Sierra Leone legal system, even if it receives an important international support and that some of its judges are international judges. It is also a hybrid court, because it associates international law with Sierra Leone's national law.


© Hirondelle News Agency