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contribution 15 - DIENG Adama

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Accused realeased

Adama DIENG

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Thank you, Chair. Let me quickly state that it is sad that my dear friend Lurquin has stood by his statement albeit the fact that O’Donnell was in charge of acquitted persons and he did make tremendous efforts so as to ensure that the stay of the acquitted persons would be pleasant. As he said himself, he might have used too hard words. As well as O’Donnell, I believe, when he said luxurious. I beliece he was trying to positivize what Defence counsel had said.

Contrary to what has been said, if I recall rightly, I do not believe to have stated that their conditions of living were below the minimal standards. I had said in public and openly written and published that the plight of persons acquitted by the ICTR is unacceptable. These are persons who stood accused of the most serious crimes who were not found guilty and who have been acquitted and who, in principle, should return to normal lives. Unfortunately, returning to normal life in Rwanda is not an option for those persons. Ms. Del Ponte would not disagree with me on this count because she is aware of the fact that at the Hague, some persons acquitted were welcome as heroes in their countries. But this would not apply to persons acquitted by the ICTR.

The example of Bagambiki has been cited. We made all possible efforts to persuade governments, especially the government of Belgium. Hopefully, he had his family there. Hopefully, there was the family reunion principle, which at the end of the day paid off three years later.

But what is important to remember is that the States which established those Tribunals did not probably think about the possibility of acquittals. So when the first acquittal came calling, that is, the acquittal of Bagilishema, the intervention of my friend Stephen Hessel, an kind of actor behind the scenes I would like to pay tribute to, was determinative. He helped us alongside other persons as Louis Joinet and others who worked to secure an asylum for Bagilishema. Since, some of the other cases have had a successful outcome because members of the family were living in the country of asylum. One of the acquitted persons was able to benefit from the family reunion principle.

But for Ntagerura and Kabiligi, the last to have benne acquitted, we still face an important challenge. I said it and I say it again: there is a problem of rule of law. But there is also a problem of human rights as persons who have been acquitted, who have been found not guilty, are kept in quasi detention. Although villas had been hired out for these persons, although there were no budgetary provisions for that. But we thought we had to host the acquitted persons and ensure their security.

Please note that we also had to post security officers at the entrance of those villas. So we have to commend the vice registrar and his team for all what they have done and what they continue to do for the acquitted persons. And he is right, if Ntagerura had accepted to return, even to the country in Cameroon where he had arrested, I am convinced that that would have happened expeditiously. But he was insistent on going to a western country. But that is not easy, as you are aware. We should not lose sight of the fact that he took part of the former interim government as a minister. And we have national laws in the United States or in Canada in which there were restrictions. Even the High Commissioner for refugees. For instance, the article 1 f) of the 1951 Convention makes it very difficult to handle such cases. And we all have a common interest in ensuring that such cases are settled.

In a recent meeting of registrars last week, I raised that issue with my friend Silvana Arbia , because this problem might also be the fate of the ICC. Because, who knows, one of the defendants from the DRC might be acquitted and might not be willing to return to his country. And so this is an essential issue which must be considered from the prism of the primacy of law and from the prism of human rights. Thank you.

A. GARAPON

Thank you very much. So I think Mr Vandermeersch wants to talk about detention. So I may give the floor first to Mrs Arbia and then afterwards we will go back to the issue of detention. Silvana Arbia.