Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Finally, the International Tribunal Agrees to Transfer a Suspect to Rwanda for Trial by National Courts

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today referred the case of Jean Uwinkindi to the the Rwandan national court system under Rule 11 bis of its Rules of Procedure and Evidence. This was a re-run of several cases heard in 2008 in which transfer was denied. The refusal of the International Tribunal to transfer cases to Rwanda prompted national jurisdictions in Europe to refuse extradition of genocide suspects to Rwanda. In some cases, like Finland, trials were held under universal jurisdiction. In others, like the UK, genocide suspects were set free and remain so.
A so-called Referral Chamber of the Tribunal, composed of Judges Florence Rita Arrey, Presiding, Emile Francis Short and Robert Fremr, heard arguments from the defence and the same amici curiae who had appeared previously, including the Government of Rwanda, Human Rights Watch, the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, and the Kigali Bar Association.
The Chamber said it was convinced based on the evidence that Rwanda possesses the ability to accept and prosecute Uwinkindi’s case. The Chamber expressed its solemn hope that the Republic of Rwanda would actualize in practice the commitments it made in its filings about its good faith, capacity and willingness to enforce the highest standards of international justice.
In reaching its decision, the Chamber noted that Rwanda had made material changes in its laws and had indicated its capacity and willingness to prosecute cases referred by the Rwanda Tribunal adhering to internationally recognised fair trial standards enshrined in the Tribunal’s Statute and other human rights instruments. In particular, the Chamber found that the issues which concerned previous Referral Chambers, namely the availability of witnesses and their protection, had been addressed to some degree in the intervening period.
The Referral Chamber also requested that the Registrar appoint the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to monitor Uwinkindi’s trial in Rwanda. Uwinkindi was a former Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Kayenzi in Kigali-Rural prefecture.

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