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Citing lack of cooperation from Rwanda, UN tribunal asks Security Council to intervene

Citing lack of cooperation from Rwanda, UN tribunal asks Security Council to intervene

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Arusha, Tanzania, has asked the Security Council to intervene on its behalf to prod Kigali to cooperate with the UN prosecutor and the court.

In a letter to the President of the Council released today at UN Headquarters in New York, ICTR President Judge Navanethem Pillay says that the Tribunal prosecutor has complained of a lack of cooperation from the Rwandan authorities, describing how the lack of availability of witnesses from Rwanda was likely to hamper the court’s judicial work and hinder the prosecutor’s investigations.

In particular, the Rwandan Government has failed to issue travel documents for witnesses in a timely manner to enable them to appear in ongoing trials. Tribunal judges are concerned because three cases have already been postponed several times due to the unavailability of witnesses from Rwanda, Judge Pillay says.

Two of the court’s Trial Chambers have also issued decisions drawing attention to the Government’s failure to issue travel documents, and both decisions have been brought to the notice of the Rwandan Government.

“In the light of past difficulties, it is uncertain that the trials scheduled to resume in the coming sessions will be able to do so without the intervention of the Security Council,” Judge Pillay writes, noting that the Council had created the Tribunal because it was convinced that the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law was necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

“I respectfully submit that it is necessary for the Security Council to use such measures as it thinks are appropriate to ensure that the International Tribunal for Rwanda can meet the mandate it has been given,” Judge Pillay says.