UN funds $3m ICTR archives
A decision by the United Nations to put up a $3million facility in Arusha, Tanzania to house the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appears to have placed a new hurdle in Rwanda’s bid to take over crucial records of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In resolution No. 66/240, the UN General Assembly adopted last Thursday allocated the initial amount for overall construction of the building and authorised the UN Tribunal’s Residual Mechanism to commence the design phase of the project.
The Rwandan Government has insisted that all the evidence relating to the Genocide, in which a million people were killed, should be hosted where the crime against Humanity was committed, when the ICTR finally winds in December 2014.
On June 1, the International Residual Mechanism takes over from the UN court which marks the beginning of the end of the ICTR.
“For the time being, the permanent home of the archive is Arusha…but we can not speculate on any future permanent base,” the ICTR spokesman, Roland Amossouga told The New Times yesterday, in an exclusive interview.
He noted that apart from space for the archives, the building will also include a courtroom and offices for the staff of the Residual Mechanism.
Although doubts remain as to whether the repository will finally come to Rwanda, it holds crucial testimonies of Genocide survivors.
In a recent Interview with The New Times, Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of IBUKA, the umbrella association of Genocide survivors, said that Rwanda should focus on setting up a state-of-the art facility to host the archives, after the closure of the Residual Mechanism.
“The Government has allocated land for the construction. They (UN) asked for a small space and we have given them five acres,” the spokesperson of the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Assah Mwambene, said yesterday.
ICTR archives and those of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will be managed by the Residual Mechanism which is due to take over essential functions of the two UN courts.
The Mechanism will have one branch in Arusha and the other at The Hague, which will house ICTY’s archives. The Hague division of the Mechanism will start operations on July 1, 2013.
According to Amossouga, the two branches will share one permanent President, American Judge Theodor Meron, one Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow from the Gambia, and Registrar, John Hocking from Australia.
“Each of them may sit at either of the Divisions, depending on his duties,” said the ICTR spokesman.
Reached for comment, the Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, said, “We consider the issue about the archives contentious and we are looking forward to continued dialogue on the subject with the Residual Mechanism of the tribunal.
He added, “We remain opposed to any initiative that is driving at depositing the archives on a parmanent basis outside Rwanda where they belong and make more meaning.
“This is a subject we shall take issue with for as long it takes.”
Among steps taken as a precursor to the winding up of the ICTR, was a recent swearing in of the nine judged to head the Residual Mechanism Division.
These included veteran jurists Lee Muthoga from Kenya, Solomy B. Bossa from Uganda, Tanzania’s Joseph C. Masanche and William H. Sekule, along with joined fellow judges Florence Arrey, Vagn Prüsse Joensen, Gberdao G. Kam, Seon K. Park, and Rajohnson Rajohnson M. R. Mparany.
additional reporting by Ivan R Mugisha.
Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw