Rwanda prosecutor criticizes ICTR refusal to transfer jurisdiction

[JURIST] Rwandan Prosecutor General [official website] Martin Ngoga told [press release] the UN Security Council [official website] Thursday that the decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] not to transfer pending cases to Rwandan jurisdiction, including genocide suspects Jean-Baptiste Gatete [TrialWatch profile; JURIST report] and Yussuf Munyakazi [case materials; JURIST report] undermines his country's judicial reforms and hinders national reconciliation. Ngoga said that "[e]rroneous, factually incorrect assessments" and occasional "deliberate misrepresentations" of the country's human rights situation by advocacy organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have also had a negative effect [New Times report] on the country's progress. Emphasizing that Rwanda has continued to cooperate with the tribunal, Ngoga expressed the country's desire to have the cases transferred to Rwandan jurisdiction at the completion of the ICTR's mandate, a plan discussed [JURIST report] by UN Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs Pamela O'Brien [official profile] in March. ICTR President Dennis Byron [official profile] submitted a plan [letter, PDF] for the ICTR, which extends trial stages through 2009 and reserves the final year of the court's mandate for appellate orders and responses.

The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict [HRW backgrounder] between Hutus and Tutsis in which approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died. In March, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] pledged his ongoing support [JURIST report] for the ICTR and stressed that the international community must continue to combat genocide. In July, a report [text, PDF] released by HRW said the Rwandan government [official website] had made substantial progress [JURIST report] in reforming its justice system but fallen short in several key areas. In July 2007, HRW urged [JURIST report] Rwanda to conduct an "independent and impartial" investigation [press release] into an increasing number of alleged extrajudicial killings, saying in a report [HRW materials] that Rwanda National Police officers had killed at least 20 prisoners in seven months.

 

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