Bagaragaza: ICTR subcontracts to Norway

13 March 2006 by Thierry Cruvellier

On February 15, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) filed a motion to transfer Michel Bagaragaza's trial to Norway, which has agreed to try him. There are, however, ulterior motives behind this apparent successful attempt to lighten the Arusha tribunal's caseload.

As the prosecutor recalls in his motion to transfer, the UN Security Council asked the tribunals in Arusha and The Hague on August 28, 2003 to have all trials completed by 2008. One of the suggestions for accomplishing this goal was to refer some of the cases to national courts. However, although the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is now planning to return 14 defendants to Bosnia and two to Croatia under acceptable conditions, the ICTR has not been so lucky. The only country eager to step in and help is Rwanda and it is not offering any of the required essential guarantees, such as the guarantee that the death penalty will not be applied and that the trial will be fair. Consequently, Norway's willingness to try Bagaragaza, officially confirmed on January 18, 2006, is being heralded as major news. No other country that does not have ties to ICTR defendants has stepped up to the plate and agreed to take on the trials.

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