Arusha, 26 March 2009 (FH)--Local councilors from Njombe District, southern Tanzania, have suggested that the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should be transformed into a permanent African court to try perpetrators of human rights and genocide.

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The legislators, numbering 30, made the remarks after touring the Arusha-based ICTR, which is currently trying key suspects of 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to UN estimates, about 800,00 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the April-July slaughter, one of the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century.

"This [ICTR] should be transformed into a permanent Tribunal to try those who are alleged to have committed serious humanitarian violations in the African territory," Venance Kaberege, Chairman of Njombe Council, told Hirondelle News Agency, adding that the Court  was already equipped with modern facilities and expertise.

He also said that his delegation has been impressed with the high-tech and process of dispensation of justice at the UN Court.

"Those who have committed crimes must face justice...the culture of impunity must be fought vigorously everywhere," stressed Hassan Ngella, Vice Chairman of Njombe Council.

The ICTR Information Officer, Danford Mpumilwa, said that Tanzanian councilors themselves have made a history by becoming the first local administrators to tour the UN Tribunal, established some 14 years ago.

The councilors traveled almost 1, 4000 kilometres to visit the ICTR.

However, Mpumilwa informed the visitors that the UN Security Council, which set up the Tribunal, has already directed that the UN Court complete all its first instance trials by end of this year and appeals by 2010.

So far the Tribunal has convicted 38 persons and acquitted six.


© Hirondelle News Agency