Arusha, 19 March 2009 (FH) - The United Nations Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs and UN Counsel, Patricia O' Brien, begins next week an African tour and is scheduled for Rwanda on 27 March where the discussions are expected to be devoted on creation of a "residual mechanism" of the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reports Hirondelle Agency.

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The residual mechanism is a structure which will have the role of managing issues which will not have been settled at the closing of all first instance trials at the Tribunal by end of this year as directed by the UN Security Council.

The appeal cases are expected to be closed by end of 2010.

The Special Representative of Rwandan Government to ICTR, Alloys Mutabingwa, welcomed the visit, adding that the issue of residual mechanism and retention of tribunal archives would be discussed exhaustively.

Some observers consider Rwanda, where the genocide took place in 1994, to be the country best positioned to host of the archives. According to UN estimates, about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter, worst humanitarian tragedy on 21st century.

The relocation of convicts would also be on the menu, according to the Rwandan diplomat. The issue has now gained weight following this week's signing of an agreement between the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and Rwanda whereby Kigali will host some convicts of the Tribunal.

"We hope that UN will accord all its importance to this agreement. The SCSL has appreciated management and prison facilities of Mpanga. This prison is spacious and offers more than is required by the ICTR standards", Mutabingwa stressed.

 Article 26 of Statute of the Tribunal stipulates that Imprisonment shall be served in Rwanda or any of the States on a list of States which have indicated to the Security Council their willingness to accept convicted persons.

Kigali has maintained all along that, according to this text, the first destination of the ICTR prisoners was Rwanda. For Rwandan authorities, any transfer of a convict elsewhere than to Rwanda was a violation of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Fifteen prisoners of the ICTR, including the former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda during the genocide, are currently serving their sentences in Mali.

The former Italian-Belgian presenter of the RTLM, Georges Ruggiu,  the only non-Rwandan to be convicted by the ICTR, was serving his sentence in Italy.

The other signatory countries, but which still have not received any convicts, are: Benin, Swaziland, France, Sweden and Rwanda.


© Hirondelle News Agency