Thursday 9 October 2008

Appeals Chamber Denies Transfer of Case to Rwandan Courts

Today the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda dismissed the Prosecutor's appeal concerning an application to transfer a case to the Rwandan courts:
Earlier this year, a Trial Chamber denied the transfer on a number of grounds. The Appeals Chamber granted the appeal in some respects, notably in the decision by the Trial Chamber that because the trials in Rwanda would be held before a single judge this was not an adequate guarantee of a fair trial. But on other issues, such as speculation that a person sentenced in Rwanda might theoretically be required to serve a sentence in solitary confinement, and problems in obtaining witnesses for trial, the Trial Chamber decision was upheld.
There are two other judgments on appeal, but presumably the result will be similar.
In my opinion the judges have been far too severe, setting unrealistically high standards. This means a significant increase in the caseload of the Tribunal and at least three new trials and possibly more that it had been hoped would not be needed, because they could be held before national courts. The judges of both chambers will have to stay on and work for another year or two as a result of their decisions.


Mark said...

Dear Professor Schabas,

The way I read this decision is as a victory for the rights of the accused: the international tribunals have a role to play, an example to set, in protecting those human rights. This is perhaps particularly necessary in the Rwandan context.

To have the judges stay on for a year or two longer is, I think, a small price to pay for that.


jrthomp said...

I understand the concerns in the previous comment, and I think that the preservation of the human rights of the accussed in the context of due process is critical. However, these interested must be counterbalanced with several competing interests. First, allowing the Rwandan courts jurisdiction over these events will allow the Rwandan people to fulfill their collective rights to self determination. It is my opinion that the courts have shown sufficient guarantees of basic due process. Secondly, permitting the national courts to exercise their judicial muscles and to further deepen the channels of the protections that they are now employing.
I concede that its a fine balance, but I would have to agree with Prof. Schabas.

John Thompson

Unknown said...

can any body tell me that wat is the way for an indian student to get addmission in the phd human rights

William A. Schabas said...

Dear Mr Democracy,
The information on application to the PhD programme is available on the website of the university: But before proceeding further with a PhD application, students are advised to have an informal contact with myself or one of my colleagues about supervision, about the possible topic, about preparing the application, and about funding.
William Schabas