Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States of America, visited the ICTR this past Tuesday, 25 March 1997.
Mrs. Clinton arrived at the ICTR late in the morning and was welcomed by the Prosecutor, Justice Louise Arbour; Judge Laïty Kama, President of the Tribunal, as well as by the Judges of the two Trial Chambers and the new Registrar of the Tribunal, Mr. Agwu Ukiwe Okali, who had arrived in Arusha the previous evening to take up office.
Mrs. Clinton then visited the seminar organized by the Office of the Prosecutor on the theme of sexual violence committed in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia. This seminar began on Monday, 24 March 1997 and brought together members of the Office of the Prosecutor from both Kigali and The Hague.
The Prosecutor gave an overview of the difficulties encountered in investigating and prosecuting these acts, stating that ”suffering is the common denominator in all these acts of sexual, physical and psychological violence." The participants then reported on their experiences in the field in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.
In addressing the participants, Mrs. Clinton expressed her viewpoint that solid evidence is necessary to prosecute sexual violence and that this must be prosecuted with determination. Mrs. Clinton is a lawyer by training. She has long fought for the rights of minorities alongside her husband, President Clinton, and still continues to defend minorities.
Mrs. Clinton then gave a radio address to the Rwandan people via the airwaves of Internews, a broadcasting facility set up at the Tribunal. "I regret not being able to visit Rwanda with my daughter Chelsea, who is accompanying me. We came from the United States to visit several African countries... We know that you, the people of Rwanda have experienced a level of suffering almost impossible to imagine... We in the United States are readv to reach our hand. One way of doing so is to support the ICTR. We know that there have been problems with Tribunal operations, but after what we just witnessed this morning, I am reassured that the necessary reform is being undertaken."
The United States is working on re-establishing the Rwandan judicial system and the medical institutions, and is helping thousands of Rwandans to find housing again through programs financed by USAlD.
Before taking leave, Mrs. Clinton delivered a speech to the ICTR staff in the entrance hall of ICTR. She thanked the Judges and the Prosecutor who are working to restore peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa. "Genocide is a crime against humanity and its planners must be brought to justice.” The United States is supporting the Tribunal with $12 million in aid, including computer equipment and staff, added Mrs. Clinton. The Tribunal can only succeed in its mission with the help and support of the international community, she concluded at the end of her visit. Mrs. Clinton left the Tribunal early in the afternoon.