Concerned by the allegations of mistreatment of witnesses in general and in particular of those called from Rwanda to testify in Arusha, the Registrar of the Tribunal, in a letter dated 4 March 2002, had proposed to the Government of Rwanda, out of concern for transparency and fairness, to establish a joint commission to investigate the allegations of mistreatment of witnesses coming from Rwanda, echoed by certain Rwandan authorities and non-governmental organizations in recent public statements.
In response to the Registrar’s proposal, the Government of Rwanda, while accepting in principle the establishment of the joint commission, stated, for its part, in a letter dated 13 March 2002, that it would wish to expand the commission’s terms of reference to include matters regarding, inter alia, the recruitment and employment of staff members and auxiliary staff of Rwandan origin in service with the Tribunal either in Arusha or in Kigali, and the arrangements planned and administered by the Registry of the Tribunal for the care and protection of witnesses.
On 26 March 2002, the Registrar, in a letter to His Excellency the Minister of Justice and Institutional Relations of Rwanda, stressed his great appreciation of the willingness of the Government of Rwanda to have a light shed on the allegations of mistreatment of witnesses coming from Rwanda. However, he pointed out both that the recruitment and employment of United Nations staff are governed by rules from which there can be no exception which might contravene the instruments and regulations in force at the United Nations, and that there was no question of expanding the commission’s mandate to include matters that are the exclusive responsibility of the Registry, which works in close consultation with the United Nations Office of Human Resources Management in New York.
The Registrar further stated that there is no question of the proposed joint commission investigating the arrangements made for the care and protection of witnesses, both for the Prosecution and for the Defence, as administered by the Registry in strict compliance with the Tribunal’s Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
The Registrar also expressed regret that the Government of Rwanda’s envisaged expansion of the commission’s draft terms of reference, that the Registrar had initially established within the limits of his own powers and on the basis of specific allegations by certain Rwandan authorities and non-governmental organizations, assails the principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality, that must be the distinguishing feature of the Registry of the Tribunal.
Lastly, the Registrar wishes to reiterate that it is of the utmost importance to avoid that the joint commission substitute itself for the Registry and assume the powers attributed to the latter by virtue of the Tribunal’s Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
In conclusion, the Registrar looks forward to a positive response on the part of the Rwandan authorities regarding the establishment of the investigative commission within the time-limits prescribed, on the basis of the initially proposed terms of reference, solely consisting of the joint investigation of the allegations of mistreatment of witnesses coming from Rwanda.
Upon termination of its investigation, to be conducted in two phases beginning 1 April 2002 (in Kigali and in Arusha), the investigative commission will submit its conclusions to the Registrar of the Tribunal and to the competent Rwandan authorities for their consideration. Each of the competent authorities will then take the measures required that lie within their powers in order to prevent the repetition of acts of mistreatment, should they be proven to be true, or the dissemination of unfounded allegations that could be injurious to the proper administration of justice as dispensed by ICTR.