Today, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow released a best practices manual on the referral of international criminal cases to national jurisdictions for trial. The manual documents the ICTR Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) experience in securing the referral of ten genocide indictments to national jurisdictions for trial. Since the ICTR’s establishment on 8 November 1994, the OTP has referred two indictments to France and eight indictments to Rwanda.
The referral of these indictments marked an important milestone in the ICTR’s completion strategy. Without the referral of these indictments, the ICTR’s work would have been incomplete and a gap in impunity could have resulted. By referring these indictments to national jurisdictions for trial, the OTP also gave practical effect to the principle of complementarity. Under that principle, national authorities, not international courts or tribunals, bear primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting international crimes.
The OTP’s success in securing the referral of its indictments could not have been achieved without substantial outreach and capacity-building efforts and the cooperation of partners such as Rwanda, the European Union, Canada, and the United States of America. Together with our partners, the ICTR contributed to a host of legal reforms and infrastructure improvements at the national level that were necessary to secure the fair trial rights of the accused.
The OTP also developed new strategies to demonstrate how fair trial rights would be honored in practice. Many of those strategies could assist other courts or tribunals in assessing national capacity, as well as provide a basis for national jurisdictions to undertake their own assessment of compliance with internationally-recognized standards.
The manual released today documents those best practices and lessons learned. It is part of a broader strategy the OTP has undertaken to preserve the ICTR’s legacy for future use. It is our hope that this manual will assist other international and national courts to build on the ICTR’s achievements and empower national authorities to discharge their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute international crimes in a manner consistent with international standards.