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contribution 23 - CRUVELLIER Thierry

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Preventive detention - Historical legacy - Accused realeased


transtlated version

Thierry Cruvellier is my name. I do not want the discussion to focus on detention matters only, but I’m only lay emphasis on that point. Where our people are still hesitant in addressing the issue of the length of detention, I believe that we are like ducking an issue which will be a blemish on the record of the ICTR and that will be the worst record of all courts set by the ICTR.

It has been said that you have persons who have been remanded in custody for 14 years, and you have about 15 other defendants who spent at least ten years or more before their judgements are delivered. And there is nothing equaling that record. And I believe that this is always welcome with stupor by the international community. And such situations which occur in a given country are vehemently protested by NGOs. And on the same score, ICTR’s record is very nasty. The issue of detention in the ICTR also relates to enforcement of sentences. And the record is also that the court actually hands down absolute or maximum sentences and the convicts have to serve their time to the last day, which is not the case with the ICTY. And we should hope that things will turn out properly such that convicts will be released before the end of their sentences. I am aware of the argument which is always put forth, stating that Rwanda is a genocide and so the situation is different. But I think this is not the point, especially in the respect of the fact that the detention policy of the ICTR is pretty harsh.

And last point on this is the fact that the role and responsibility of the Judges must be highlighted. The Judges of the ICTR have refrained from taking bold decisions irrespective of the harsh conditions which prevent the enforcement of the rule of law. And I believe that we have to make it abundantly clear that if we do not address this record squarely, we’ll be doing harm to ourselves.

I would like to focus on judgement, and I believe that quite some interesting things or developments have occurred recently, as highlighted in the Bagosora judgement which was awaited for 13 years or more and which is quite an interesting judgement in respect of the manner or the ICTR’s stance in history.

From a historical perspective, one tends to feel that the Judges do not want to rewrite history, yet they have to write history by duty and so it becomes pretty difficult to handle that responsibility. But I believe that the way the genocide is portrayed by the ICTR, especially in December 2008, has changed compared to the Akayesu judgement ten years ago. And this raises an issue, namely, that while the ICTR is dependant on political changes occurring in its operating environment, there are things which it couldn’t do ten years ago but which it can do now. And we note that the ICTR is moving in lockstep with our knowledge, and its history making or its way of writing history is different from how it was ten years ago.

There is some brainstorming to be done on this issue in terms of restituting the record and which over time will be challenged, and it is not only specific to the genocide in Rwanda but to all other crimes committed in a massive scale.

Let me state that in judgements you have all these aspects which have evolved significantly in the ICTR and which is quite an interesting development, so I wish to understand the position of the Judges and the Prosecutors in respect of giving that account or keeping the record.


Thank you very much for highlighting the link between history and justice. And this is significant because justice cannot operate in abstraction. It occurs within a specific history. And on that note, I will give the floor to Prosper.