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Implementation of Trial Chamber's decision in Bernard Ntuyahaga case was correct, ICTR Registry says

The Registry of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda presents the following clarifications regarding the implementation of the Decision of Trial Chamber 1 in the matter of The Prosecutor vs Bernard Ntuyahaga, following the Prosecutor's withdrawal of the charge against Ntuyahaga at the ICTR.

The paramount duty of the Registry is to implement the Trial Chamber's Decision. According to the Registry's understanding of that Decision, the following constitute its principal elements:

(a) the Chamber ordered the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Ntuyahaga;

(b) the Chamber decided that Mr. Ntuyahaga could not be released into the custody of any given State, including the Host State, Tanzania;

(c) the Chamber instructed the Registrar to "take all necessary measures" to execute the Chamber's decision to release Mr. Ntuyahaga if need be with the cooperation of the Host State, Tanzania;

(d) the Chamber in its letter to the Registrar dated 25 March 1999 instructed the Registrar, in the execution of the Decision, to take into account considerations that may arise, notably factors pertaining to the security of Mr. Ntuyahaga.

With the foregoing as guidelines, the Registry's approach was to ascertain from Mr. Ntuyahaga his wishes in the context of the implementation of the Trial Chamber's Decision that he be released. His wish, as communicated to us in writing, was to be set free in Dar es Salaam.

Based on the foregoing, the Registry does not believe that it would have been consistent with the Trial Chamber's decision to do otherwise than to release Mr. Ntuyahaga in accordance with his request. Bearing in mind in particular the injunction regarding his security contained in the Trial Chamber's instructions of 25 March, the Registry had no reasonable option than to release him where presumably he felt most secure.

For the same reason, it would have been inappropriate to have informed either the Host State, the Governments of Belgium and Rwanda or any other Government before hand of Mr. Ntuyahaga's release as this would have been tantamount to an invitation to take custody of him. The Host Government was, however, informed immediately after the release, and other Governments soon after.

The Registry's understanding of the phrase in the Decision "if need be with the cooperation of the Host State" is that the Host State should assist the Tribunal in implementing the Decision, if necessary. This was also the understanding of the Host State. A judgement as to whether this was necessary and, if so, to what extent, was to be made by the Registry. If "cooperation" of the Host State were to be interpreted as handing Mr. Ntuyahaga over to the Tanzanian authorities, such an interpretation would obviously contradict the Trial Chamber's clearly stated position.

As regards the document provided to Mr. Ntuyahaga by the Registry, this is no more than a standard Safe Conduct document which is clear in its terms and in no way carried any request, express or implied, to States to assist him with political asylum. Moreover, the document was issued to be valid for a period of 15 days from the date of issue (29 March 1999), bearing in mind the provision of Article XX of the Host Country Agreement between Tanzania and the United Nations. That provision gives a person released by the Tribunal a 15-day immunity against arrest by the host country on the same criminal charges, during which period such a person is expected to leave the country.

We believe that the Registry had a duty to provide such a document in order to ensure the implementation of the Trial Chamber's instructions, including the instruction to the Registrar to take measures to safeguard the security of Mr. Ntuyahaga in the implementation of the order to release him.

As regards the issue of the extradition requests to Tanzania by Belgium and Rwanda, the Registry understands that this is a bilateral matter between the States concerned which in no way involves the Tribunal.

The Registry of the ICTR hopes that the foregoing explanations have sufficiently clarified this matter and takes the opportunity to recall that any underlying problems with regard to this case have arisen not because of the Trial Chamber's decision to order release of an accused person whose indictment had been withdrawn by the Prosecutor, nor because of the Registry's actions in implementing the Trial Chamber's decision for immediate and unconditional release.

For information only - Not an official document

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