At a ceremony to mark the 56th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, on 24 October 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) paid tribute to the late Judge Laïty Kama, the Tribunal’s first President. The Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Jakaya Kikwete, was the guest of honour at the ceremony in which other representatives of the Member States, international organisations and the staff of the Tribunal took part. It was also attended by members of the family of the late judge who died on 6 May 2001.
In his address Minister Kikwete said that the Tanzanian Government was proud of the achievements of the Tribunal. They were sterling achievements which had laid down precedents for the permanent International Criminal Court that was in the process of being established. He added that “As Africans we are especially proud of the relevance of what this international Tribunal is doing for the social and political evolution of the African continent, which has been ravaged by conflicts which have their roots in impunity and abuse of power”.
He pledged the Government would continue to provide strong support for the Tribunal and urged all Member States of the United Nations “to provide to the ICTR similar levels of financial, political and operational support for its work as is given to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.”
Speakers were unanimous in their praise for the late Judge Kama as a passionate defender of Justice and, as Minister Kikwete said “an eminent jurist and proud son of Africa”. The President of the Tribunal, Judge Navanethem Pillay, stated that his legacy was a heavy responsibility to bear. The ICTR Registrar, Mr. Adama Dieng said that he would remain in our memories as one of those who had laid the foundations of international criminal justice.
One of the Courtrooms of the Tribunal was later renamed in honour of Judge Kama and a CD-ROM dedicated to his memory was released. The CD-ROM, the first publication of its kind, contains all of the decisions of the Tribunal from its inception to the end of 2000 and other relevant documents.