Arusha, 09 October, 2009 (FH) - President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Justice Denis Byron Thursday urged national jurisdictions to effectively play their role to fight the culture of impunity after the closure of the  UN Tribunal, next year.

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Judge Byron, who was presenting the Tribunal's 14th annual report before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, emphasized the need  for ‘'continuous and comprehensive fight against impunity for those who committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in 1994.''

He explained that the Tribunal was established by the Security Council to prosecute only key suspects of  the genocide  and hence requested that others be dealt with by national jurisdictions where genocide suspects are still hiding.

‘'The closure of the Tribunal must not send the wrong signal to the many suspects of the worst crimes still on the run that they can now breath more easily,'' warned Judge Byron.

On the contrary, he emphasized that national jurisdictions need to ensure that genocide suspects are not finding a sanctuary.

Judge Byron said the Tribunal stood ready to assist national jurisdictions in their efforts to ensure that impunity does not prevail.

The ICTR President also informed the General Assembly that he expected judgments in nearly all current pending first instance trials by next year. The UN Security Council has directed that all pending cases must close by end of 2010.

However, Justice Byron has already hinted ‘'possible spill-overs'' concerning mainly the trial involving three political leaders of the former Rwandan presidential party, MRND.

Former President of MRND, one of the three accused, Mathieu Ngirumpatise has been bedridden for almost one year now.

Sixteen accused are currently waiting verdicts, 10 others are on trial and four accused are still awaiting commencement of their cases.

Some of the accused are jointly prosecuted, causing delays in the hearing and drafting of judgments.

Since its establishment in November 1994, the ICTR has convicted 38 persons and acquitted six.


© Hirondelle News Agency