Two weeks ago, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda issued its first judgment in more than eleven months. The decision in Nshamahigo was issued on 12 November: http://220.127.116.11/ENGLISH/cases/Nshamihigo/judgement/081112_judgement&sentence.pdf. The last decision issued by the Tribunal prior to that was in Karere, on 7 December 2007. And then we have to go back to 2006 to find a decision (excluding cases involving guilty pleas). Nshamahigo is not particularly complex, and the judgment runs to about 80 pages. It concerns a single defendant, and does not raise any complex issues of legal interpretation.
In its report to the Security Council on the completion strategy, prepared a year ago, the Tribunal said it would issue judgments concerning nine defendants during the first half of 2008. To date, Nshamahigo is the only judgment issued. Several defendants in Bagosora et al. have been awaiting judgment since their trial ended in June 2007, seventeen months ago. They have been in custody since 1996 and 1997.
What is delaying this Tribunal? Why does everything move so slowly? It it because the faster the Tribunal moves, the sooner the institution will close its doors, and the judges and employees will see their jobs come to an end?
The Security Council will meet in the next few weeks for the next report of the Tribunal on the completion strategy. It will be interesting to see if any of the members of the Security Council challenge the Tribunal on the failure to meet its commitments, and whether the President of the Court or the Prosecutor have any reasonable explanations for the delays.