Arusha, July 14, 2011 (FH) - Thirty one detainees out of 36 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced commencing hunger strike in support of their inmate, Jean Uwinkindi who appealed against decision made by the Tribunal to transfer his case to Rwanda for prosecution.

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On June 28, the Tribunal referred  for the first time the case of Uwinkindi, Pentecostal Church Pastor in the eastern part of the country to the Rwandan judiciary for prosecution. According to the communiqué signed by the detainees, their colleague appealed against the decision on July 12, 2011.

The communiqué further states that Uwinkindi informed the United Nations Detention Facility Commanding Officer on July 12, of his intention to start hunger strike to support his appeal.

‘'By way of this communiqué, the signing detainees draw the attention of ICTR authorities and of public opinion on this arbitrary and highly preoccupying situation and our co-detainee, Jean Uwinkindi (being isolated). [Detainees] have also decided to start a hunger  strike on 13 July, 2011 at 18.00 hours,'' reads part of the communiqué.

The detainees have also written a letter to the President of the Tribunal raising their concerns on the matter.

 "We have noted with surprise that the decision is rendered at a time when Rwanda is the subject of numerous damning reports denouncing the most serious violations of human rights and at the time when the RPF regime is launching terrorist acts against Rwandans suspected to be political opponents,'' the letter addressed to the ICTR President states.

‘'This situation is comparable to that of Hissene Habre, former President of Chad. It caught the attention of the former ICTR President and current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, who expressed her worry fearing that Habre may face death if sent back to Chad. Her intervention led the Senegalese President to review his decision to hand over Habre to Chadian government,'' the letter explains.

 It adds that ‘'justice and human rights situation in Paul Kagame's Rwanda is worse than that prevailing in Idriss Deby's Chad.''

 In the decision to transfer Uwinikind's case, the Chamber stated that 'it was satisfied that the government of Rwanda was prepared to receive its first referral from the ICTR.''

 ‘'Given that the accused ...Uwinkindi has appealed the decision rendered on 28 June 2011, we hope that in the interest and credibility of the ICTR, the Appeal Chamber will courageously and fairly take control of the situation and, as it was done previously , rule that the conditions of transfer of an accused to Rwanda by the ICTR have not been met at all,'' the letter states as it concludes its arguments.


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