“I have a more than theoretical interest in the work of this Tribunal and appreciate the impact of its profound judicial precedents in establishing a culture of accountability in Africa and the world as a whole". So declared Senator Russ Feingold, United States Senator for Wisconsin and Chairman of the Africa Sub-Committee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he visited the Seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda at Arusha, Tanzania this morning.
Senator Feingold, accompanied by the United States Ambassador to Tanzania, The Honourable Mr. Robert Royall, visited the ICTR in order to observe and be updated on the progress of the Tribunal. The U.S. Senator expressed his strong and continuing support for the work of the ICTR in its task of bringing to justice the persons responsible for the genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda in 1994.
Mr. Feingold and Ambassador Royall were received by the President of the ICTR, Judge Navanethem Pillay and the Deputy Registrar, Mr. Lovemore Green Munlo. Both senior officials briefed the U.S. lawmaker on the state of trials at the Tribunal (17 persons are currently on trial in seven trials) and on judicial and management reforms undertaken by the Tribunal in the past several months. The Tribunal officials emphasized the need for the approval by the United Nations Security Council of the Tribunal’s request for additional judicial manpower in the nature of 18 additional, ad litem judges in order to speed up the trials of accused persons detained by the Tribunal. Twenty-seven ad litem judges were elected for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 2001 for similar reasons.
Senator Feingold indicated his support for the Tribunal’s request for more judges and commended reforms and improvements in the functioning of the Tribunal, including in the management of the Tribunal’s legal aid programme, after seeking and receiving specific evidence of these reforms. He visited all the three courtrooms of the Tribunal, where trials were in progress, and observed judicial proceedings therein.
The U.S. Senator had earlier visited the Kigali, Rwanda Office of the Tribunal in 1999. He was instrumental to the adoption by the U.S. Government of a financial rewards programme for information leading to the arrest of persons indicted by the ICTR.