Addressing the United Nations Security Council on the achievements of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the President of the Tribunal, Judge Navanethem Pillay (South Africa), urged Member States to help compensate victims if Rwanda is to recover from the genocide that was perpetrated in that country in 1994.
“Many Rwandans have questioned the ICTR’s value and its role in promoting reconciliation if the issue of claims for compensation is not addressed. For every hour of every day over the past seven and half years, we have lived with the voices of the survivors of genocide and so we strongly urge the United Nations to provide compensation for Rwandan victims,” Judge Pillay said.
Her address to the Security Council came after the presentation of the Seventh Annual Report of the Tribunal’s activities to the General Assembly on 29 October 2002. Judge Pillay detailed the Tribunal’s achievements and the reforms the Tribunal has undertaken to further speed up trials and appeals. She said that new rules have been adopted, inter alia, to facilitate transfer of accused to national jurisdictions to stand trials; ensure expeditious trial and prohibit fee-splitting arrangements between Counsels assigned by the Tribunal and their clients.
She also acknowledged that the Tribunal was still facing problems affecting the pace of the trial proceedings. These factors included the complexity of the judicial proceedings, interpretation of trial proceedings into three languages and delays in the appearance of witnesses. The appearance of prosecution and defence witnesses from Rwanda was disrupted in May and June 2002 due to new administrative measures imposed by the Government of Rwanda. As a result, two trials were adjourned and 15 trial days lost.
The President of the ICTR stressed that the creation of a pool of “ad litem” judges will help expedite the completion of the Tribunal’s mandate. The ICTR has indicted 81 individuals so far, with 61 persons in custody and 20 still at large. Of the 61 persons in detention eight have been sentenced (six of whom are serving their sentences in Mali), one has been acquitted and 22 are involved in ongoing trials. Judgments in two trials of three accused will be delivered before the end of the year and early next year, Judge Pillay said.
Judge Pillay added that the Prosecutor had changed her strategy for conducting investigations and trials with the aim of fulfilling the mandate of the Tribunal:
“The Prosecutor has revised her future investigation programme from the originally estimated number of 136 new suspects and will now only conduct investigations against 14 new individuals, together with ten ongoing investigations. The resulting 24 new indictments, which the Prosecutor intends to submit for confirmation by the end of 2004, will conclude her investigation programme,” she said.
The President of the ICTR thanked the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and Member States for their assistance and support. The full text of her Statements to the General Assembly and the Security Council as well as the Seventh Annual Report of the ICTR are available on the ICTR Website, www.ictr.org.