The Spokesperson of the Tribunal gave a press conference on 23rd November 2006. During the press conference, the recent report released by the French Magistrate Jean Louis Bruguière regarding the downing of the plane of the former President Habyarimana was at issue. Commenting on a Press Release issued by ADAD on November 21st 2006 on the same subject, the Spokesperson clarified the meaning of “Officers of the Court” which, he thought, was misleadingly used in the ADAD statement. He emphasized that it did not mean that the persons issuing the press release were staff members or officers with an appointment from the United Nations.
The Spokesperson went on to say that there were a number of other misleading statements in the ADAD press release. He stated that the writ of mandamus to force the Prosecutor to act upon certain evidence as suggested in the ADAD Press Release did not exist at the ICTR. He also added that the President and other judges have in the past rejected Defence motions to order the Prosecutor to issue such orders.
The Spokesperson also took a different view in respect of facts which the ADAD press release presented to have been “established” in the Military I case about the shooting down of President Habyarimana’s plane. The Spokesperson reminded the Press in this regard that there was abundant case law establishing that, irrespective of the responsibility over the downing of the Habyarimana’s plane, the ensuing genocide was a different issue which called for a specific judicial response. The Spokesperson further elaborated that from the beginning, the United Nations Committee of Experts had described the events of 1994 in Rwanda as a “pre-planned execution of severe human rights violations”. This was subsequently confirmed in settled cases of the Tribunal, including the Akayesu and Kambanda judgements.
As to the facts stated by the ADAD press release to have been “established” in the Military I case, the Spokesperson gave a wider perspective by listing some of the other facts that were also produced in the Military I trial but that had been left out of the ADAD statement. He listed a set of statements taken from a Prosecution Response dated 19 December 2005 to a Defence Motion for further information on the plane crash. This Response is a public document. At no point did the Spokesperson draw any conclusions from the list of statements taken from that public document.
The Registry is a neutral organ and is not prepared to abdicate this essential aspect of its role. While carrying out its fundamental function of disseminating information relevant to the Tribunal’s business to the outside world, it will always observe the required neutrality between the different theses put forward by the parties before the judges. Settled points of facts and law may in the process be referred to. The Registry may also expose in an even manner the different points of view expressed by the parties on a contentious issue - even one yet to be decided - in so far as the issue is not of a confidential nature. By so doing, the Registry does not express its own view.
In correcting and/or complementing some information contained in ADAD’s press release, the Registry may have been wrongly perceived as taking sides.
The Registry strongly reiterates its neutrality and reassures parties and stakeholders that it will at all time observe the highest standards of behaviour expected of an essential organ of an international body as the ICTR.