[JURIST] Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Murigande and the registrar of the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive], Adama Dieng [official profile] signed an agreement Tuesday allowing those convicted by the genocide tribunal to serve their sentences in Rwanda. Rwanda joins Benin, France, Italy, Mali, Swaziland and Switzerland as a country qualified to hold those convicted by the court, but under Article 26 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [PDF text], it is the preferred host providing it meets UN requirements. The agreement was met by protests by current ICTR detainees, who said the transfers would amount to death sentences. ICTR judges will have final say over which detainees will be transferred to the UN-approved detention center in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.
The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes that occurred during the 1994 Rwandan conflict [BBC backgrounder] between Hutus and Tutsis, but in 2007 ICTR announced that it will be unable to complete its work [JURIST report] before its mandate expires in December 2008. ICTR officials plan to transfer uncompleted cases to Rwandan national jurisdiction. Amnesty International has urged the ICTR not to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda [JURIST report; press release], saying that there are concerns regarding the fairness and impartiality of Rwanda's justice system, and ICTR detainees have staged hunger strikes [JURIST report] in protest at the plan.