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Address To The United Nations Security Council: Six- Monthly Report On The Completion Strategy Of The International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda (ICTR) By Judge Vagn Joensen, President

Mister President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by extending my sincere congratulations to the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation who presides over the Security Council in June. I would also like to thank and congratulate the distinguished representative of Chile for assuming the role of Chair of the Informal Working Group for International Tribunals. I wish your Excellencies all the best for successful tours of duty. I would also like to take this opportunity to renew my thanks to the Office of the Legal Counsel for the work over the past six months in continuing to act as the very able and neutral interlocutor between the Tribunals and the Security Council.
It is, as always a great honour for me to address the distinguished members of this Council and present to you the current update on the progress being made towards the completion of the ICTR’s work. I wish to express the gratitude of the entire Tribunal to all governments of this esteemed Council for your continued support as we approach the conclusion of two decades of judicial work.


Excellencies, I am happy to report that the Tribunal’s judicial workload, which has been for some time only in the Appeals Chamber, remains on schedule since the last report. The Appeals Chamber has delivered two judgments concerning four persons and heard appeals in three cases concerning four persons during the six month period since my last report in December 2013. Appellate proceedings have now been concluded with respect of 50 persons, and the Appeals Chamber is expected to render a judgment with respect to the sole remaining accused in the Ndindiliyimana et al. or “Military II” case in June 2014, while three other appeal judgments concerning four persons are projected to be delivered in September 2014. This leaves only theNyiramasuhuko et. al, or, “Butare” case, concerning six persons, in which the appeal remains scheduled to be heard before the end of 2014, with the judgment remaining projected for completion not before the end of July 2015.

As I have previously reported, the projection for delivery of the Appeal Judgment in the Butare case reflects the delays in the briefing schedule, the fact that the scope of the appeals in this case has expanded since the initial notices of appeal, and the very voluminous and complex pre-appeal litigation. I remain in contact with the Presiding Judge on the Butare appeal, and I am happy to report that additional resources allocated to this case have helped to prevent additional delays which could have otherwise occurred due to the continued volume of pre-appeal litigation. The Registrar and I continue to work closely with the Presiding Judge on Butare to try to ensure that the Judgment in our final case is delivered without any further delays.


I feel that it is incumbent upon me at this time to bring to your attention, as I have in the past, the tireless work and dedication of the Appeals Judges and support staff of the Appeals Chamber who have again during this reporting period worked within very tight deadlines to ensure that the Tribunal’s work remains on schedule.  As you are well aware, however, the Tribunal is more than just its judicial component, and I would therefore be remiss if I did not also thank all of the current and former ICTR staff outside of the judicial teams as well. Their contributions to international justice have helped us reach the stage we are at today and will not soon be forgotten. As we look back at almost 20 years of work, it is clear that the staff of the Tribunal, some of whom have committed large parts of their working lives to the Tribunal, represent a significant part of the legacy of the ICTR and what it will leave behind for posterity.


I now turn to the issue of relocating the acquitted and convicted released persons still residing in Arusha. I note that during the reporting period the number of acquitted persons has increased from 7 to 9 following the acquittal of two individuals in the Ndindiliyimana et al. case in February and the number of convicted released persons rose from 2 to 3 following the release of Innocent Sagahutu in the time since our written report was filed on 5 May. Mr. Sagahutu was released following a reduction in his sentence by the Appeals Chamber in February and was eligible for consideration for early release, which he was granted on 9 May 2014.

The issue of relocating the now 12 individuals currently residing in Arusha has been brought to this Council’s attention on numerous occasions and is an issue that I continue to believe represents a serious challenge to the credibility of the enforcement of international criminal justice. Despite numerous Security Council Resolutions calling upon Member States to assist the ICTR in its relocation efforts, all attempts made by the ICTR to relocate the remaining individuals have proven unsuccessful. 
Since the last report to the Council and consistent with the framework of the Strategic Plan submitted to the Security Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals last year, the Registrar and I met with representatives from European countries and the Registrar visited countries in Africa and held discussions with the African Group and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa to present the idea of relocation of one or more acquitted or released persons. Unfortunately, as more time passes without positive results, it becomes less likely that these individuals will be relocated before the ICTR closes, and, as such, the Tribunal must once again call for the urgent assistance from the Security Council to find a sustainable solution to this issue. 


I would next like to update the Members of this esteemed Council on the progress regarding the issue of reparations for victims of the Genocide. I am pleased to announce that, following a request from victims associations and initial discussions between my office and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that I explained in my last report to this Council, IOM has secured funding through a generous donation by the Government of Finland to undertake an Assessment Study on how the issue of victims’ reparations could be taken forward. In February, IOM and my office held very promising initial meetings with key stakeholders in Rwanda, including the Rwandan Government, victims and survivors associations, and civil society. Further consultations and preparations for the next stage of the project are expected to begin shortly following the conclusion last week of a formal memorandum of understanding between IOM and the Rwandan Government.   


Excellencies, I will now provide you with an overview of the progress that has been made with respect to the transition to the Mechanism pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1966.
The administration of the monitoring of all ICTR cases referred to national jurisdictions has, during the reporting period, become fully the responsibility of the Mechanism. However, ICTR staff members continue to assist the Mechanism as interim monitors pending the finalisation of the Mechanism’s arrangements with an international organisation or body to monitor all of the referred cases.

In accordance with Article 27 of its Statute, the Mechanism is responsible for the management of the archives for both Tribunals. The ICTR continues to work in close cooperation with the Mechanism to ensure that the records are prepared in a manner that will facilitate their effective management by the Mechanism after transfer. I am happy to report that as of 5 May 2014 the Tribunal has transferred to the Mechanism a total of approximately 630 linear meters of records with long-term to permanent retention value, out of an estimated total of 2,621 linear meters of records that are being appraised for transfer by the end of the ICTR mandate. After the great deal of work done on assessing records in the past six months, additional records will be ready for transfer to the Mechanism during the coming months. However, records still in active use, including records related to the Butare case, will remain the responsibility of the ICTR and will only be transferred once they are no longer in use.  The Tribunal remains hopeful that the preparation and transfer of its records will be completed prior to its closure. 


I would like to conclude by recalling that, since April, Rwanda has been marking the 20th commemoration and honouring the victims of the 1994 Genocide. Overwhelmingly the victims of the atrocities in 1994 were Tutsi, against whom the ICTR has stated as a fact of common knowledge beyond dispute that a genocide was committed; but they were also Twa, moderate Hutu and others who stood in opposition to the genocidal campaign, all of whom suffered the same tragic fate as their Tutsi brothers and sisters. Very fitting efforts to honour the victims of the Genocide have already taken place, and further efforts are being planned to continue the commemoration for all of the victims of the Genocide.

In April, representatives from the ICTR including myself, the Prosecutor and the Registrar participated in commemoration events in Kigali, Arusha, and Dar es Salaam. These events very fittingly reminded the world of those 100 dark days that took the lives of more than 800,000 people, and also of the resiliency of a country whose determination to rebuild a society after unspeakable devastation represents a monumental achievement that will not soon be forgotten.

Rwanda’s achievements over the past 20 years are quite impressive, including the creation of a stable and functioning government whose commitment to national reconciliation and strengthening of the rule of law can be seen through, as one example, its vigorous efforts to rebuild its justice system. The development of Rwanda’s judicial system, including holding accountable those who participated in the atrocities in 1994, remains a crucial part of the peace and reconciliation process in Rwanda and there can be no question that the ICTR has played an important role as an accountability mechanism. It is a testament to Rwanda’s dedication to accountability that as the Tribunal draws near to closure, Rwanda is now in the process of trying two cases referred by the ICTR and has taken over responsibility for six of the remaining fugitives.  As Rwanda and other countries continue to work to hold those responsible for international crimes accountable, it is clear that the jurisprudential legacy of the ICTR will live on until, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appropriately put it, “genocide is consigned, once and for all, to history”.

As we look ahead, it is also important to note that 8 November 2014 will mark 20 years since this esteemed Council saw fit, initially at the request of Rwanda, to create this international Tribunal. We hope that the international community will use this occasion as an opportunity to mark Rwanda’s achievements, as well as to further study the lessons learnt from what was only an experiment in international justice in 1994. This great experiment has faced some adversity over the years, but it has also proven to be an integral part of the evolution of post-conflict justice. We plan to recall all of the Tribunal’s achievements and challenges through a series of international events surrounding the 8 November anniversary. We sincerely hope that the international community will fully engage in and support these efforts.

Excellencies, it remains my distinct honour to address this Council once more and on behalf of the Tribunal, I wish to express our gratitude for the support your governments have shown us throughout the past two decades. Continued assistance from Member States is crucial to the efforts that we are making to ensure that the Tribunal can close its doors with its mandate completed and its legacy secured. 

Thank you very much.

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