MEMBER states from the East African Community have supported Rwanda's bid to host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) archives that possess all the courts documents, the EAC Minister, Monique Mukaruliza has said.
Earlier, the United Nations had decided to put up a $3million facility in Arusha, Tanzania to house the archives of the UN court. However, regional member states believe the documents should be housed in Kigali.
"We had a meeting and all member states agreed that Rwanda should host the ICTR archives. It would not be fair for the documents of the Genocide that happened in Rwanda to be hosted in Arusha," the minister said yesterday during a press conference to highlight the recommendations of the EAC summit that ended in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.
During the summit, the Secretary General of EAC, Dr Richard Sezibera while addressing the Heads of state said that he had sent a letter to UN stating the partner states stand to support Rwanda to house the documents.
The secretariat is now waiting for the response from United Nations. However, Rwanda stands more chances to host the archives since Kigali has been getting support from different areas.
Hosting ICTR archives has been a thorny issue between Kigali and the International Court with the Rwandan Government insisting that all the evidence relating to the Genocide, in which a million people were killed, should be hosted where the crime against Humanity was committed, when the ICTR finally winds up in December 2014.
"Archives are Rwanda's heritage since they keep proof of those who committed Genocide against Tutsi. Our children will need to use those documents in research and in writing Rwanda's history and as Rwandans, we need to tell our story," Mukaruliza explained.
ICTR was established in 1994 by the UN Security Council to try people who bear the greatest responsibility for the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. The court is bound to close shop in 2014. It has indicted 92 people, arrested 83 and completed 77 trials.
The ICTR archives and those of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will be managed by the Residual Mechanism which is due to take over essential functions of the two UN courts.
The summit also directed that the council of ministers expedite negotiations towards the conclusion of the Monetary Union protocol and report progress at the 12th extra-ordinary summit of Heads of state.
The summit also approved the implementation of the Open Health initiative to improve reproductive, maternal, infant and child health in the partner states in line with the goals of global strategy for women's and children's health.
The summit further directed the partner states to consult further on the road map for establishing and strengthening the institutions identified by the team of experts as critical to the functioning of a Customs union Common Market and Monetary Union.
During the Heads of state retreat on regional infrastructure on Thursday, the regional presidents amended and endorsed the prioritised projects from the retreat and directed the council to mainstream them in EAC Partner states' infrastructure priority projects for implementation.
The retreat directed the council to develop an investment strategy with clear financing options and timeframes for the priority projects with effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that projects are implemented.
In the same meeting yesterday at the Ministry of EAC, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, James Kamanzi mentioned that Rwanda's infrastructure priorities were on railway lines especially the proposed Dar es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Gitega-Musongoti railway projects and Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala-Bujumbura -Kigali railway.
"We hope that if these projects are completed, it will help on reduction of transportation costs of goods from the ports," he said.
He further added that Rwanda was also supporting the extension and development of Mombasa port, Dar port and Lamu port in Kenya as this would elevate the handling capacity of cargo.
Commenting on the infrastructure issue, Sezibera added that it was a prudent move for the regional leaders to embark on the infrastructure projects to help in economic development of the community.
"I am extremely happy that the Summit of EAC Heads of State has decided to focus on railways, energy, ports and harbors, as well as inland waterways development in the East African Community for the next ten years. Currently, only less than 5% of cargo is carried by rail and yet cargo is expected to triple in the next few years," Sezibera said