Arusha, November 2, 2011 (FH) - The UN's Residual Mechanism, due to take over from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in July 2012, will inherit the problem of finding host countries for acquitted persons, according to ICTR spokesman Roland Amoussouga.

1 min 32Approximate reading time

"The difficulties will be the same, namely the lack of willingness of States to accept acquitted persons on their soil, for their own reasons," Amoussouga told Hirondelle on Wednesday. He said that while diplomatic negotiations were still ongoing, the issue was still problematic.  

"The Residual Mechanism will inherit this situation. For the time being we do not know how the Mechanism will tackle it. So we will have to wait and see," the ICTR spokesman added.

Three persons whose acquittals have been confirmed on appeal are still trying to find a host country. They are former Rwandan Transport Minister André Ntagerura, General Gratien Kabiligi and Protais Zigiranyirazo, brother-in-law of the late former president Juvénal Habyarimana. They all want to join members of their family living in Europe, several of whom have obtained citizenship from their host countries.

Two more people are waiting to know whether their acquittals will be confirmed by the ICTR Appeals Chamber: former Foreign Affairs Minister Jérôme Bicamumpaka and former Health Minister Casimir Bizimungu.

Addressing the UN Security Council last June, ICTR President Khalida Rachid Khan called on member states to accept people acquitted by the Tribunal. She said the relocation challenge was "the unfortunate result of the absence of a formal mechanism to secure the support of member states to accept these persons within their territories".

The ICTR's Statute requires UN member states to cooperate to arrest accused persons but contains no provisions on acquitted persons.  

These former personalities looking for a host country spend their time between their "safe house" in Arusha and the ICTR reading rooms.

Ntagerura has been looking for a host country for the longest time. He was acquitted by the lower court in February 2004 and the decision was confirmed on appeal in February 2006.

Five ICTR acquitted persons did finally find host countries: former mayors Ignace Bagilishema and Jean Mpambara went to France, former prefect Emmanuel Bagambiki went to Belgium, former Education Minister André Rwamakuba joined his family in Switzerland, and Father Hormisdas Nsengimana found a new home in northern Italy.  


© Hirondelle News Agency