Arusha, August 29, 2012 (FH) – A Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals has taken over some of the tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as the Tribunal winds down. However, it seems the roles of the MICT and the ICTR are still confusing some people, including legal practitioners. The presiding judge of the ICTR Appeals Chamber recently had to issue a reminder to Tanzanian lawyer Francis Stolla after he filed an appeal to the wrong body.

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Stolla is Duty Counsel defending the interests of fugitive genocide suspect Pheneas Munyarugarama. He is also current president of the Tanganyika Law Society. His July 11 appeal, filed to the ICTR, challenges a Referral Chamber decision to transfer Munyarugarama's case to Rwanda. 

“Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010), the Mechanism, and not the Tribunal, has competence to conductand complete appellate proceedings in relation to this case,” presiding judge of the ICTR Appeals Chamber Theodor Meron reminded Stolla in a July 17 order.

Nevertheless, the lawyer made the same mistake again on July 31, filing submissions in support of his appeal before theTribunal. However, he filed them again a day later before the Mechanism.

According to the December 2010 UN Security Council Resolution, the MICT was established to complete essential functions of the ICTR and of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after their respective closures. The ICTY branch is not operational until next year.

The ICTR branch in Arusha started operatingon July 1 this year. All appeals filed after that date fall under its jurisdiction. 

Other functions of the MICT Arusha branch include tracking and prosecuting (if they are caught) the three most wanted fugitives; supervising enforcement of sentences; providing assistance tonational jurisdictions that are investigating Rwandan genocide suspectson their territory; preservation and management of Tribunal archives; and victim and witness protection.

The ICTR must complete all appeals and othermatters that were pending before July 1, 2012.