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contribution 15 - Biju-Duval Jean-Marie

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Politics & Justice


transtlated version

Thank you. I would like to say a word on the issue of international justice and the influence of politics from the standpoint of the Defense, the defense that remains the defense of an individual. We have talked about the balance of power. We’ve talked about the balance of power between political powers and a judicial institution. Now, the Defense takes the standpoint of an accused person.

I’m not going to revisit the nightmare of Mr. O’Donnell, who apparently is haunted by the image of the UNDF and all that. The truth is that when someone is accused, he is essentially alone in the face of his situation, in the face of his defense and his defender.

Given the legal system in force, he faces the political issue. He has to grapple with the political issue. What I mean is the conflict with powerful states and the Rwandan state, let us be very clear here, because he has to conduct investigations, essentially, in Rwanda and in a context where his Defense counsel is alone and is even more destitute than the Prosecutor’s office, given the political parameters in the broadest possible sense that we on the trial.

All the more so, as in some instances, the accused may have been a political figure in the former regime and who has to cope with a situation where his political opponents have come to power. I don’t want to dwell on this issue, but it takes me to a very important technical point from the standpoint of the proper functioning of the International Tribunal; that is, how does the judicial institution or how can it assist the accused to conduct his investigation in the face of a state like Rwanda, for instance, which would throw up obstacles?

Well, there is no answer to it. The question has come up on several occasions before the ICTR, and I believe that no satisfactory answer has been given to that important question. And I believe it is one that we should bear in mind when it comes to reflecting on the setting up of an international criminal justice system.

Let us recall, as I have said, that the inmates at the Arusha detention facility includes innocent persons. They were tried by the international criminal system. So let us reflect on this issue that all persons who are being tried are not necessarily guilty and that some of them will be declared not guilty by the International Tribunal and that they have to cope with extreme difficulties in respect of the political influence.


Thank you. André Guichaoua.