The Prosecutor of the ICTR today announced the release of a manual on “The Tracking and Arrest of Fugitives from International Criminal Justice: Lessons from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)”.
The apprehension of fugitives has been one of the greatest challenges faced by the Tribunal, and in particular the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), since its inception. Without enforcement powers of its own, the Tribunal was dependent on national authorities to conduct arrests. Its fugitives were located in numerous countries across the globe - with many in African states. Many obtained new identities and chose remote or inaccessible places to hide, sometimes in conflict zones. They created new lives for themselves, obtained employment, or even joined militias in conflict zones. Several were adept at securing protection, including from senior officials in the states in which they sought refuge. In some cases states lacked the resources and/or political will to cooperate with the Tribunal in accordance with their legal obligations.
Nevertheless, with the assistance of national authorities and INTERPOL, the Tribunal secured the apprehension of 83 of its 93 fugitives from 27 jurisdictions, leaving 9 at large (1 died prior to arrest). The tracking of the remaining fugitives will continue under the aegis of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (UN-MICT) which will conduct the trials of its top three fugitives Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana in the event of their arrests. Fugitives Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Ryandikayo and Charles Sikubwabo, whose indictments have been referred pursuant to the Tribunal’s rules, will be tried in Rwanda if arrested. The Prosecutor takes this opportunity to remind all Member States of their obligation to cooperate with the MICT in the arrest and transfer of its fugitives.
Further details about the fugitives and the substantial rewards available under the US War Crimes Rewards Program for information leading to their apprehension may be found on the MICT’s website: www.unmict.org.
As the ICTR mandate comes to a close, the Prosecutor is keen to share the lessons learned by his office in pursuit of the Tribunal’s fugitives. The document released today documents those lessons and makes practical recommendations for those tasked with apprehending international fugitives from justice. The document examines the legal framework required for tracking; the structure and management of specialized units for tracking; strategies for tracking; the handling of confidential sources; rewards programs; and security issues related to tracking operations. Recognizing the importance of securing the cooperation of Member States at the political level, special consideration is given to the need for engagement with national authorities.
It is clear that the apprehension of international fugitives is a complex issue. Its success depends, among other things, on the work of a dedicated and technically competent team of investigators; cooperation with national law enforcement agencies; diplomatic outreach, sometimes at the highest levels of state; and, not least of all, the willingness of the general population to provide information that may lead to the apprehension of suspects.
In this regard the Prosecutor acknowledges all those who have contributed to the achievements of the Tribunal’s tracking operations, including its trackers for their dedication in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions; INTERPOL for its investigative support; civil society groups, NGOs and regional organizations, including the Friends of the ICTR, which have provided support both to investigations and at the diplomatic level; the international community, particularly those Member States that assisted the Tribunal in the arrest and transfer of fugitives; the United States Department of State, whose War Crimes Rewards Program proved critical to tracking efforts; and the Tribunal’s former Prosecutors, all of whom recognized the importance of tracking operations in the fight against impunity.
The manual will be made available to national and international investigating and prosecuting authorities. To obtain a complementary copy of the document, authorized national and international investigating authorities should submit a formal written request on official letterhead to the ICTR Prosecutor.
It is hoped that this document will assist all those concerned with apprehending international fugitives from justice and ensuring that the fight against impunity succeeds.