Extension of terms requested for four judges on UN's Rwanda tribunal

Extension of terms requested for four judges on UN's Rwanda tribunal

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The President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has asked that the expiring term of office of four permanent judges be extended to allow them to complete cases they are currently hearing.

The request by Judge Navanethem Pillay was transmitted in a letter by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council and General Assembly, which notes that the terms of office of 11 of the Tribunal's permanent judges will expire on 24 May. The four judges were among those who did not stand for re-election or were not re-elected by the Assembly to new terms beginning 25 May.

Mr. Annan says the four judges are currently hearing cases that will continue beyond that date, and that new trials would have to be held if they are not allowed to continue to adjudicate in those cases, which, save for one, are well advanced.

The legal and financial consequences of discontinuing would be severe and, "could cause serious prejudice to the accused and have a significant negative impact on the Tribunal's completion strategy," Mr. Annan stresses.

The four judges concerned are Pavel Dolenc, Yakov Arkadyevich Ostrovsky, Winston Churchill Matanzima Maqutu and Judge Pillay herself, who was elected to serve on the newly established International Criminal Court earlier this year.