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UN Rwanda tribunal says efficiency was sole motive in staffing decisions

UN Rwanda tribunal says efficiency was sole motive in staffing decisions

An official of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today refuted media reports that racism had allegedly played a part in the Tribunal's decision not to renew contracts for members of its prosecution teams, stressing that concerns for efficiency were the only consideration.

"There is no basis to attack the Tribunal for racism. It is absolutely ridiculous," spokeswoman Florence Hartmann told reporters in The Hague. "The Prosecutor did not renew some contracts and we were accused of racism, but the decision was only on the basis of efficiency."

According to Ms. Hartmann, the first person who did not have his contract renewed was an American of European descent. "These people were given a chance to start to work to change their attitudes and did not, and are now gone," she said, adding that other staff were changed to different positions because "they were good lawyers but not proactive enough in court."

Ms. Hartmann said that ICTR Prosecutor Carla del Ponte would continue to hire new people, including Africans, on the basis of competence. "May Africans work at the Tribunal," she said. "This is important because they know the environment and want to take part in international justice [...] to make sure that genocide such as that which occurred in Rwanda in 1994 does not occur again in the continent of Africa or anywhere else."

The non-renewal of the staff's contracts falls within a general reorganization of the ICTR - a process that began last year with the investigation teams in Kigali, Rwanda, and is now continuing with the trial teams based in Arusha, Tanzania, the spokeswoman said.