2 March 2009

Rwanda: Ban Calls for Arrest of Genocide Fugitives

Arusha — The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has urged African countries to intensify collaboration, in tracking down and arresting Genocide fugitives who remain at large.

Ban made the call while addressing the staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in a town hall meeting held on Friday.

"I call upon all the States in the region (East and Central Africa) to increase their support in tracking down and arresting all fugitives," he said.

ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow, identified thirteen key suspects, who had a hand in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, whom he said found safe havens in the region.

Felicien Kabuga is among the most wanted fugitives, he has been dubbed the financier of the Genocide that left over a million people dead. He is strongly believed to be leading a lavish lifestyle in Kenya where he owns various properties.

The UN chief also reiterated that no perpetrator of human rights abuses would be left to escape justice, adding that; "Human dignity must be protected."

About the ICTR's completion strategy, Ban urged the judges and the staff to double their efforts to ensure that trials are completed by the end of this year, as directed by the UN Security Council last December.

While underscoring that the workload this year is challenging, Ban said that the unfinished work of the tribunal would be taken care of by the residual mechanism which would be announced by the UN Security Council.

ICTR staff members represent more than 80 different nationalities making the tribunal the most internationally diverse UN duty station outside the UN headquarters in New York.

According to highly placed sources in the tribunal, the main factor straining the capacity of ICTR is the denial of Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow's requests to refer four cases to Rwanda for trial, even after Rwanda had shown readiness and willingness to handle the cases.

The four cases include that of former Mayor of Murambi Commune Jean Baptiste Gatete, who is currently detained at the UN detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania.

The ICTR Registrar, Adama Dieng, informed the UN chief that the tribunal was still faced with the challenge of retaining its qualified staff, who are leaving ahead of its closure at the end of this year.

The most recent resignation is that of ICTR Deputy Registrar Everard O'Donnell who resigned a few weeks ago.

This was Ban's first official visit to the tribunal since his election as UN Secretary General close to two years ago. The visit is the second of its kind after that of his predecessor, Koffi Annan in 1999.

Established by the UN Security Council 15 years ago, the ICTR has so far convicted 38 persons and acquitted six, who include Brigadier General Gratien Kabiligi, the former head of the military operations (G-3) in the former Rwandan army.

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