March 15, 2007 (FH) – The UN, specifically through the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), still hopes to find countries to host two former ministers and a former prefect acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Acquitted by the Trial Chamber on February 25, 2004, the former Transportation Minister Andre Ntagerura and the former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki saw their verdict confirmed on appeal on February 8, 2006.

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In addition, the prosecutor did not appeal the acquittal on September 20, 2006, of the former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Andre Rwamakuba.

“It’s still the status quo,” the Chief Registrar of the ICTR, the Senegalese Adama Dieng, told the Hirondelle Agency, deploring the failure of the efforts extended by his offices to find host countries for these three people.

“Following a demand that I addressed to the UN Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Refugees received me on March 6 and promised me his support in offering me his services,” Dieng indicated.

“He understood the magnitude of the problem: He promised to try to obtain relocations,” he continued.

Dieng underlined that “the problem risks being a recurrent one so far as those acquitted don’t want to return to Rwanda: they insist that they will not be safe.” This situation is particular to the ICTR: in contrast to those acquitted at the tribunal’s counterpart that judges crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, those at the ICTR are not welcomed with open arms in their country of origin.

“The ICTR has no territory and can only count on the goodwill of the member states” of the UN, Dieng saying that he had notified Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, and a single African country, Namibia.

Regretting that Western countries “have closed their doors a little,” he equally noted that “those acquitted exclude African countries for safety reasons.” He nevertheless thanked France which has taken in two of five people acquitted by the Tribunal at present, namely former mayors Ignace Bagirishema and Jean Mpambara.

“It is important that these countries (Western) understand that this Tribunal was created by the Security Council and that it is the international community which must deal with the consequences of the verdicts that it renders,” the Chief Registrar insisted.

During the creation of this tribunal in November 1994, the contingency of acquittals does not seem to have been considered, to the point that on the current Internet website of the Tribunal, those acquitted are listed under the category “released detainees.”