Arusha, January 19, 2012 (FH) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has accused the Tribunal's Registrar of trying to delay unnecessarily the first transfer of a detainee to Rwanda. The ICTR has approved the transfer of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi to the Rwandan justice system as part of its closure strategy, but the Registrar said on Monday there were prior issues that needed to be sorted out first. 

1 min 32Approximate reading time

In his response, the Prosecutor said timely referral of the case for trial in Rwanda was vital to the interests of justice, including the right of the accused to trial without undue delay. "The administrative difficulties the Registry has apparently experienced in implementing the Tribunal's judicial orders should not be allowed to frustrate these substantial interests,'' reads part of the Prosecutor's response dated January 18, 2012.

On January 16,  the Registrar sought guidance from the President of the Tribunal about the transfer of Uwinkindi. He said matters that needed finalizing included ongoing discussions with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) which is to monitor Uwinkindi's case after he is transferred to Rwanda. He also expressed concern that the ICTR had no funds for this monitoring. The Registrar suggested that the prison that will host the pastor should be inspected before he is transferred.  

The Prosecutor argued, however, that the President has no authority to postpone the transfer and that there was no legal basis to do so. He also dismissed the Registrar's suggestion that the prison facilities should be inspected first, saying they had already been approved. "Both the Trial and Appeals Chambers determined that Rwanda's detention facilities located at Kigali (Central Prison) and Mpanga (Prison) meet international standards,'' he said.

The Prosecutor also dismissed the Registrar's argument that budget issues needed to be resolved before Uwinkindi is transferred. "The Registry should be directed to immediately implement the Tribunal's monitoring orders by releasing sufficient funds from non-core functions or seek emergency funding from new sources,'' says the document.

On June 28, 2011, the ICTR granted the Prosecutor's request to have Uwinkindi's case transferred to Rwanda. Uwinkindi appealed, but on  December 18, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the referral decision.  

Uwinkindi is charged with genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. He was arrested on June 30, 2010, in Uganda and was transferred to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, on July 2, 2010.


© Hirondelle News Agency