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Geneva-Exhibition 2003: The ICTR Challenging Impunity

From 17 March to 4 April 2003, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is holding a fifteen-day exhibition and a series of round-table discussions on the theme “The ICTR: Challenging Impunity” in Geneva (Palais des Nations), Switzerland, where the UN Commission for Human Rights is conducting its 59th annual session. The opening ceremony was marked by speeches delivered by the Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), the President, Prosecutor, Registrar of the ICTR, and the Rwandan Minister of Justice and Institutional Relations, in the presence of many guests from Geneva, Rwanda and representatives of the international community.

“Put an end, through international justice, to impunity of those responsible for genocide and contribute to national reconciliation in Rwanda” is the recurrent message that the Tribunal conveyed to the international community and participants to the exhibition. The exhibition is also intended to inform the international community of the ICTR’s mandate and achievements and to mobilize more concrete and active support from the international community to the work and endeavours of the ICTR. On the sideline of the exhibition, the ICTR President, Judge Navanethem Pillay, and the Registrar, Mr. Adama Dieng, have held meetings with the Ambassadors of the African Group and the European Union accredited to the United Nations in Geneva.

In his opening address, the Director General of UNOG, Mr. Sergei Ordzhonkidze, welcomed the exhibition, which brings the ICTR from its Headquarters to the international community. The Rwandan Minister of Justice and Institutional Relations, Mr. Jean de Dieu Mucyo, on his part, exhorted the ICTR to pursue its work without forgetting to make Rwandans partners in the endeavors and progress of the ICTR.

A screening of the film “Justice Today Peace Tomorrow” and subsequent debates marked the first week of the exhibition. Debates continued later at Geneva University on the theme, “The contribution of the ICTR to the implementation of norms of the international criminal law”. The Registrar facilitated the debates. Other participants included Professor Eric David, Bruxelles University; Professor Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Geneva University; Barrister François Roux; Ms. Cecile Aptel, Representative of the ICTR Prosecutor, Ms. Carla Del Ponte; and former UN Prosecutor for East Timor, Mr. Mohamed Othman. The Rwandan Minister of Justice and Institutional Relations, General Prosecutor, and Representative to the ICTR, Mrss. Jean de Dieu Mucyo, Gerald Gahima and Martin Ngoga, respectively, participated in all the round-table discussions.

Participants unanimously agreed that the ICTR has been a pioneer in the area of international criminal law and that a close collaboration between the Tribunal and Rwanda in order to intimately associate Rwandans to the work of the Tribunal will yield success and will contribute to national reconciliation in Rwanda by bringing the work of the ICTR to the people of Rwanda.

A second round table discussion entitled, “Impunity, national reconciliation and protection of victims and witnesses” took place on Wednesday 19 March 2003 and was facilitated by the President of the Tribunal, Judge Navanethem Pillay. Other participants included Mr. Bertrand G. Ramcharan, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mrs. Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwandan Ambassador to the UN Geneva; Mr. Antoine Mindua Kesia-Mbe, RDC Ambassador to the UN Geneva; Mr. Yves Sandoz, University of Geneva; Roland Amoussouga, Chief of the ICTR’s External Relations; and the Rwandan community living in Geneva.

Participants commended the ICTR’s appeal to the international community to support genocide survivors by addressing structural and statutory shortfalls of the ICTR, through elaboration and adoption of an International Assistance Plan in support of Rwandan genocide survivors and victims in order to ensure their social, psychological and medical rehabilitation. Such an international initiative will be a tremendous contribution to the current national reconciliation and rebuilding process of the Rwandan society.

The exhibition, which continues at the Palais des Nations (Hall de pas Perdus) until 4 April 2003, is part of the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme for the Rwandan population and the international community.

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