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Rwanda Tribunal saw more work, better results in past year, UN reports

Rwanda Tribunal saw more work, better results in past year, UN reports

The past year saw a remarkable improvement in the performance of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), with its work accelerated and its output multiplied, the President of the court says in a just-released report.

During the period under review, six trials involving 15 accused were in progress, with all three Trial Chambers actively engaged in trials, writes ICTR President Judge Navanethem Pillay in his annual report to the Security Council and the General Assembly, which covers the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.

In addition, the Trial Chambers ruled on a large volume of pre-trial and interlocutory motions. "The Tribunal has demonstrated its ability to render fair and expeditious justice, with full respect for the rights of the accused, as well as due regard for the protection of victims and witnesses," the report says.

"Through its jurisprudence, the Tribunal has shown that international criminal justice is a reality and that the establishment of an internationally recognized system of justice provides a new avenue of recourse in a world that desperately needs the rule of law, as an alternative to the use of force," the chief judge says.

The President also credits the Tribunal with playing a significant role in developing international humanitarian and criminal law, as many of the substantive legal issues adjudicated by its Trial Chambers have not been decided before. "This emerging jurisprudence will serve as precedent and impetus for the International Criminal Court and the judicial Tribunals being established by the United Nations for Sierra Leone and Cambodia," he says.

Anticipating more arrests and a larger caseload in the coming years, the President says the Tribunal will not be in a position to complete the trials in a reasonable time and in accordance with the rights of the accused, particularly the right to be tried without undue delay. Court officials agreed that the Tribunal would be better equipped to handle this increased workload if more temporary judges were hired to begin hearing outstanding cases and to deal with pre-trial and interlocutory matters.

Besides its judicial work, the Tribunal has also actively participated in the process of national reconciliation by carrying out various outreach programmes within the country, including a programme involving the dissemination of information concerning the activities of the Tribunal to explain to the Rwandan people the role of the court in relation to the events of 1994 that led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of people.