Several ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam last week gave a considered appraisal of the performance of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Their common assessment: the Tribunal is doing a commendable job in discharging its mandate of bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. The diplomats expressed the views of their Governments as the ICTR Registrar, Dr. Agwu Okali, briefed the Diplomatic Corps and media on the progress and present status of the Tribunal.
First to comment on the work of the Tribunal was the Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E Ms. Lise Favre; Ambassador Favre commented on how much the Tribunal's Public Information operations had improved. She also expressed the appreciation of her Government for the valuable lessons learned from the work of the ICTR by the two Swiss Military Justice delegations that had visited the Tribunal. One of the delegations included the President of the Military Tribunal in Lausanne which tried a former Rwandan mayor, Mr. Fulgence Niyonteze, for genocide-related crimes. "The delegations learned a lot from the ICTR", the Swiss envoy said.
The Rwandan Chargé d'Affaires in Tanzania, Mr. John Kabera, thanked the Registrar for what the ICTR had accomplished and for its ongoing work. "Rwandans were initially suspicious of the Tribunal but with the steps taken, everyone has realized the difficulties of the tasks facing the ICTR, and the Tribunal has done a commendable job", the Rwandan diplomat said. He urged the Tribunal not to rest on its oars and to continue tracking genocide suspects.
The Ambassador of Algeria, H.E. Abdelaziz Lahiouel, commended the contributions the Tribunal's achievements had made to international law. He noted the high level of the accused persons in the Tribunal's custody, as well as the historic nature of the Akayesu judgement in defining rape in international law and ruling that rape constituted genocide in that case.
Various newspapers and other media also commended the work of the ICTR after the Registrar's visit to Dar es Salaam. The African, in an editorial titled "ICTR doing good work", (2 July 1999) stated : "We appreciate the efforts being made by the Tribunal to speed up trial of cases, including increasing the number of courtrooms and review of some rules and proceedings to facilitate faster termination of the proceedings" Concluding, the newspaper judged that "ICTR has ... shown that dictatorial regimes could effectively be brought to justice or made to account for their deeds."