Monday, October 15, 2007

Judge Byron's Address to the UN General Assembly

Today, Judge Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, addressed the UN General Assembly to present the Tribunal's Annual Report. The ICTR has not yet released the full text of the address. Here's the UN Department of Public Information summary of Judge Byron's remarks:

Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, presenting the Tribunal’s twelfth annual report, said the Trial Chambers had rendered judgements involving five accused and more than 250 interlocutory and pretrial decisions. Trials of five other accused had been completed and awaited judgement. In addition, trials involving 22 other accused were in progress and judgements would be delivered early next year. As of today, the cases of the six remaining detainees were at the pretrial stage and were expected to begin early next year.

The Appeals Chamber had heard an increased number of cases between July 2006 and June this year, he said, noting that judgements on appeal had been delivered on six individuals, bringing the total number of completed appeals cases to 19. More than 100 interlocutory decisions and pre-appeal orders and decisions had been delivered. Four accused had pending appeals. He expected the Chambers’ workload to substantially increase.

Prosecutor Hassan Jallow’s efforts continued to focus on securing the arrest of those still at large, including Félicien Kabuga, he said. He thanked INTERPOL for its assistance in the arrest of three fugitives. The Registry continued to play a crucial role in the Tribunal’s work, providing administrative and judicial support to all trials. Member State cooperation was paramount to the successful accomplishment of the Tribunal’s mission, particularly in securing the arrest of the 15 accused still at large. The referral of cases and the serving of sentences for convicted persons were among issues that required assistance.

Strengthening Rwandan judicial capacity was a key component of the Tribunal’s mandate, he continued, noting that the Tribunal had provided support to the judicial and other sectors through capacity-building. He invited States to help sustain such projects, emphasizing that staff departures at the Registry also were on the rise, which could negatively impact the completion strategy. He called on States to develop a mechanism to address their concerns.

Paying tribute to all Judges who had contributed greatly to the Tribunal’s work, he called on the General Assembly to help adjust the conditions of service for ad litem Judges, who had become instrumental to the completion strategy. Since January 1997, the Tribunal had arrested 75 individuals from 90 indicted persons, including former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and 14 members of his interim Government.

Recalling that the motive for establishing the Tribunal had been to bring peace to the Great Lakes region, he stressed that there were legal criteria by which it must be judged as a court. The explicit political purpose might best be served by its success as a court and the fairness of its process. It was critically important to ensure that essential fair trial rights were not prejudiced. The Tribunal had established an essential record of international humanitarian law violations committed in 1994 in Rwanda; its leading decisions were already providing guidance for national and international courts designed to enforce international humanitarian law, such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

He said there would be no lasting peace without a credible international justice perspective that united the Rwandan people and the Great Lakes region. He reiterated his unwavering commitment to the Tribunal’s mandate, implementation of its completion strategy and bringing justice to those most responsible for genocide and international humanitarian law violations in Rwanda in 1994. He requested continued assistance in the fight against impunity.