TANZANIA'S Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tuvako Manongi has appealed to UN Member States to positively consider requests for accepting persons acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and convicts who have completed serving their sentences.
"Indeed, the issue of relocation for acquitted and convicted persons had assumed urgency in view of the pending closure of the Tribunals," he stressed when giving his contribution to an annual report presented by ICTR President, Judge Vagn Joensen before the Assembly early this week.
Ambassador Manongi also reiterated the government's position to support the UN's programme of constructing a new building in Arusha to house the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) that would assume essential functions of ICTR and that of the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
"As a host to the Mechanism's Arusha Branch, the United Republic of Tanzania will continue to follow up closely on all pending issues pertaining to the construction of the branch's premises with the urgency it deserved," the Tanzanian diplomat said.
He also recalled that the proceedings, decisions and judgments of the Tribunals had provided indispensable guidance to national and international courts, as the work of the tribunals wound up and the new Mechanism begins to take shape.
"The lessons learnt have been instrumental in promoting the rule of law and the application of criminal jurisprudence," he concluded, adding; "Now it is up to the international community to ensure the success of that legacy through the Residual Mechanism."
The ICTR is due to complete its first instance cases by the end of this year and those on appeal by end of 2014. But, according to the report, presented by Judge Joensen before the General Assembly, there were problems facing the Tribunal that could continue if action was not taken.
Five persons whose acquittals have been confirmed on appeal are still housed in Arusha at the Tribunal's expense because they cannot find a host country.
They include an ex-army general, three ex-ministers and the brother-in-law of the late Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.
In Arusha, there are also two persons who have completed their sentences. Both of them are former Rwandan army officers. Judge Joensen urged Member States to accept such individuals and implement a strategy to facilitate relocations
According to the president, such persons have "no travel documents, were separated from their families, were limited in their freedom of movement and not permitted access to employment."
"The rule of law required that those acquitted be allowed to recommence their lives in full enjoyment of their rights, yet among such persons residing at a safe house in Arusha, one has been there for over six years," he said when presenting the Tribunal's report.
On June 29, 2012, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2054 (2012), calling upon all States to take in persons acquitted by the Tribunal and convicts who have completed serving their sentences.
"The Security Council reiterates its call upon all States in a position to do so to cooperate with and render all necessary assistance to the Tribunal for its increased efforts towards the relocation of acquitted persons and convicted persons who have completed their sentences," reads part of the resolution.