ICTR-Rwanda: time to decide for transfers

24 September 2007 by our correspondent in Arusha

For nearly seven years, the question of whether to send defendants at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to Rwandan courts has been the subject of irresolute initiatives, dead-end announcements and political-judicial maneuvering. On September 7, the ICTR prosecutor finally requested that three defendants be transferred to Kigali.

In 2001, the office the prosecutor submitted two requests for transfering defendants to Rwanda - with no result. On June 20, 2003, the UN Security Council issued a resolution that "urged the ICTR to draw up a detailed strategy based on the model of the ICTY completion strategy" in efforts to finish first instance trials by the end of 2008. Tranfers are at the center of this strategy. On June 29, 2004, while sixteen detainees were still awaiting the start of their trials in Arusha, prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow reassured the UN Security Council, "We plan to transfer at least five of them to Rwanda. We remain firmly committed to this aspect of the [completion] strategy. The office of the prosecutor plans to immediately start preparing the files that must be transferred or passed on. We hope to complete this process in mid-2005."

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