“The entrance of these six convicts through the prison gates of Bamako has reaffirmed the gradual swing of the pendulum from a culture of impunity to a culture of accountability”.
Six individuals convicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) were transferred from the UN Detention Facility in Arusha, Tanzania on Sunday 9 December 2001 to Bamako, Mali, where they will serve their sentences.
The six include Jean Kambanda, former Prime Minister of Rwanda, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 September 1998 after pleading guilty to six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. He is the first head of government to be convicted of and punished for such crimes.
The other convicts transferred were:
Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Bourgmestre of Taba, who was found guilty of nine counts of genocide and crimes against humanity (murder, torture and rape) and sentenced to life imprisonment;
Clement Kayishema, former Prefect of Kibuye who was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of four counts of genocide, and his co-accused, former businessman Obed Ruzindana who was found guilty to one count of genocide and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment;
Alfred Musema, former Director of a tea factory in Kibuye, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty to one count of genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity;
Omar Serushago, former Interahamwe militia leader, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of genocide and to three counts of crimes against humanity.
All of the convicts lost their appeals against their convictions and sentences at the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber.
ICTR Registrar Adama Dieng, commenting on the importance of this development said: ”Let the world take notice that impunity increasingly will not go unpunished. The entrance of these six convicts through the prison gates of Bamako has reaffirmed the gradual swing of the pendulum from a culture of impunity to a culture of accountability”.
The six are the first convicts of the Tribunal to be transferred to a prison to begin serving their sentences. The Statute of the ICTR provides that imprisonment is to be served in Rwanda or any other country which has indicated its willingness to accept convicted persons, as designated by the Tribunal. Such imprisonment is to be in accordance with the laws of the country concerned, and is subject to the supervision of the ICTR. In particular there may only be a pardon or a commutation of a sentence if the President of ICTR so decides.
On 12 February 1999, the Registrar of the Tribunal Dr. Agwu Ukiwe Okali and the Government of Mali signed an agreement in Bamako, Mali on the enforcement of the Tribunal’s sentences. By the agreement Mali undertook to provide prison facilities for the service of sentences of persons convicted by the Tribunal. Other countries that have signed similar agreements with the Tribunal are Benin and Swaziland.