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contribution 22 - DIENG Adama

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ICTR assessment

Adama DIENG

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Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Dear colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen, I am tempted to use this opportunity to answer a question put to me by my neighbour, Mr. Waldorf, that seems to me very important: “The ICTR built a large constitution in Africa to bring an end to impunity.”

Indeed, we tried our best. And as you may know, it is not really for the ICTR. We did not have the means. And that is why I’m grateful to Guichaoua when he did raise, a couple of minutes ago, that the ICTR is definitely a moral institution, not only judicial, but a moral institution needed in the Great Lakes region. And I can confirm that because many people in DRC, in Burundi at some stage were asking that the mandate of the ICTR be expanded to enable the crime atrocities committed in those two countries to be dealt with by the ICTR. Of course, that sounded like a dream, because I think, as some of us did mention, the Security Council at the time of establishing the ICTR may have thought that it would not take many years. And today if you walk around the lobbies in New York, people talk about the fatigue that and we will come to that later I think even if we have to spend billions and billions of dollars it was worth to be invested.

The second point is the point raised by Bernard Muna when he referred to some accusation which had been made about the ICC referring to as a now colonial judicial institution. But this is not a surprise to me. In August 2001 I published an article in the Herald Tribune in which I was calling the African leaders to bring to justice their warlords, their dictators and to domesticate the Rome Statute. And I was saying unless you do it, a day will come, sooner or later, when you will start saying that this is judicial imperialism. And I stand firmly to say one cannot talk about judicial imperialism in this context.

What happened in Sudan in the eyes of many people, which has been relaid by TV, what is going on in some countries continuing violations of human rights I think should remind us that what we have achieved in Arusha is important. But, on the other hand, people may wonder how come that a country close to Tanzania, which is about three hours driving, face atrocities following the election? I’m referring to Kenya. Does it mean that the people there did not learn what happened in Rwanda and which was being tried in Arusha? But I used to say, let’s be patient. You cannot judge the work of this Tribunal when it comes to its impact within such a short period. This is something which will take time. And I’m glad to say that two weeks ago, when I toured some provinces of Rwanda, I was very pleased to note that judges, registrars, judicial officials, lawyers in those provinces were using the materials of ICTR, and in some decision even quoting ICTR jurisprudence. And I think that is something extremely important to bare in mind. It is maybe minimum, even with two or three judgements in those places, I think that is already something important we have to bear in mind.

And I would like now to say, my dear friends, and allow me to say it in French, we are in Geneva. I must admit, I am full of emotion because in this very room we fought, we struggled at the time in preparing, first of all, the Vienna congress. Professor Clapham with his wife, we were the only two to force the inclusion in the Vienna declaration, the establishment of an International Criminal Court. And it is in the aftermath of a lot of activity we had made as to drawing attention to the fact that impunity had to finish.

Unfortunately two years later we were witnesses to what happened in Rwanda, that tragedy of a genocide, which was, I would say, a live tragedy. And, unfortunately, those images are still there.
And I would like to pay tribute to the work done by the Prosecutor. I’m referring here to Carla del Ponte and to her successor, Hassan Jallow. Their task has not been easy. It must be acknowledged.

I would also like to salute the memory of Judge Laïty Kama, who was the first President of the Tribunal, and is today a blessed memory. Together with Judge Mose and Judge Pillay, they delivered that historic judgement, the Akayesu judgement.

We have come to the end of three days of rich debates which have been engraved in minds by way of their substance and their lessons drawn.

Permit me before making my statement to make a clarification. In the colloquium documents circulated in some portions it has been stated that there was an internal consultation of the ICTR, a sort of introspection. Since the main organizers and numerous participants to colloquium are not members of the ICTR, and you have guests coming from outside the ICTR, we cannot strictly talk about an exclusively internal introspection exercise, although we were closely involved in the organization of this colloquium.

That said, this is an international colloquium on the ICTR and not an ICTR colloquium. I thought I should make this comment for the record.

But let me quickly state this observation does not, in any way, mar my appreciation, which is shared by myself, shared by President Byron and Prosecutor Jallow, by the excellent organization of this colloquium.

The purpose of this symposium was great and bold, because it is an incomplete exercise. André will remember that at the end of 2008, that was the date that was set for this colloquium, I had thought it was too close and I thought we should have done it in end 2009. But I think it is important that it took place at this time because, all said and done, the dynamics of this ongoing effort required us to stop a while and take stock.

It is also a great endeavour because ultimately it did not only seek to determine whether the ICTR would serve as a model or counter model of international justice, as demonstrated by the title of the colloquium.

If one were to answer this question only, I would start off by saying that our inspiration which led to the International Criminal Court and all the other courts set up after our own court contributed to and furthered international justice.

His Excellency Ambassador Martin Dahinden actually put the bar very high in judging our work, and this dealt with the expectations of the victims, respect for the due process of law, and the right to know, the issue of legacy and the course of justice delivered by the ICTR, just to name a few.

I do hope that Switzerland’s generosity in funding this colloquium, Ambassador Dahinden would have found answers to some concerns through our debates. Obviously not all of his questions could have been answered. And I am not going to hurt my pleasure and yours, less so, the pleasure of meeting in a single setting, the past and current stakeholders of international justice in Rwanda and whose individual fates have, you know, put them away from each and every one. Carla is today in Buenos Aries. And this colloquium also offered an opportunity to review the role of the ICTR in the judicial response to the genocide and other heinous crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994.

The assessment was exhaustive and the diagnostic was very objective. The policy of prosecutions was reviewed and caused a lot of passionate debate. Our witness protection policy was questioned. In short, our entire procedural architecture was looked into upside down.

At the end there is one question, namely, whether it was worth setting up the International Tribunals, specifically the ICTR. If a few decades ago there were doubts as to the possibility and plausibility of an international criminal court, these doubts have been cleared today. Its path has been chaotic and uncertain sometimes, but it is still moving on. And is this trend not specific to all growth situations. And, in fact, this brings to mind the proverb, spare the rod and spoil the child.

We were in the middle age of international criminal justice, namely, we talked about the child for whom we had to exercise patience and let the child to grow. And let me say 15 years even in a life cycle is pretty short and it is not adulthood. We must not forget the fact that the common law, civil law judicial systems, which we criticized during our deliberations and some aspects of those systems were refined over centuries. In this context, everything being equal, it doesn’t seem that the 15 years of adolescence of the ICTR have been that bad.

In his opening statement President Byron gave an overview of the achievements of the ICTR. For my part, I would simply like to recall, once again, that virtually a whole government was brought to book before an international court, and this is something which is pretty rare in the African context, which was marked by virtually absolute impunity. And this seems to me a major stride. But I think we still have to go on to meet the end of impunity in Africa.

But to echo my friend, François Roux, who unfortunately has left, it might be legitimate to look at the glass and to say that one is happy to find it half full or three quarters full. The last portion would bring to mind the fact that we still have progress or improvements to make, but I am not going to throw away the baby with the bath water.

But upon assessment, the testimony of the participant of this symposium, Mr. Thomas Kamilindi, who, in poignant terms, stated that as a victim of the atrocities of 1994, what he felt upon the announcement of the conviction of his hangman is worth millions of dollars spent at the ICTR.

I am ready to improve the quality of justice. It is a daily endeavour. And my friend François who will soon take up duty in an international court shall be a very interesting discussion partner in a few years or in few months when he will experience the ingrate nature of some duties performed by United Nations staff. As we perform our duty passionately with all the sacrifice, but we cannot escape the criticism, which tends to make us feel that we are doing nothing.

I would like to revisit the tribute that we paid yesterday to Alison Des Forges. Ms. Des Forges to me was not just this ordinary expert who was present at the ICTR, as mentioned Ms. Haskell yesterday. Alison Des Forges was a friend; I would say a friend for over close to 20 years. I will always remember when I left Kigali on 4 April 1994, when there was the attack, what my friend calls an act of air piracy, on the next day 3 o’clock in the morning in Geneva Alison Des Forges called me to ask about the fate of one of our friend activists, Monique, who had sought refuge in the granary of her house, in the barn of her house, to escape the machetes of the genocidaires.

Alison was a courageous lady. She was, as her husband reminded us yesterday, of great generosity. She was of great purity. Alison worked for the Office of the Prosecutor as witness on a voluntary basis, on a pro bono basis. She did not take a single franc, just as André Guichaoua. André Guichaoua, well, it was only about two years ago and this is not any attack on your university, Mrs. Flour – that you gave him some subsistence just to be able to operate and to respect the administrative procedures of your institutions. And I do thank you for helping him to facilitate the work of the ICTR. Once more, thank you.

Before concluding, I would like to pay resounding tribute to the organizers of this symposium. I would especially like to thank the Academy of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law of Geneva, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the Institute of Economic and Social Development Studies University of Paris 1 Sorbonne, and the main sponsor of this symposium, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, who has assisted us before. I remember going to Berne, at the suggestion of Carla Del Ponte, to ask the Swiss government to fund a project in Kigali that was meant to build a hall, a hall that would some day enable the holding of court hearings in Kigali. That is what we wanted at the time. But then we thought we would bring hearings over to Kigali. At the time, we dreamt of having a giant screen at the Amahoro stadium where we would rebroadcast images from Arusha. Back then it was not easy. Passions were still running high. The Rwandan government did not make things easy for us. I remember the director of ISOFOR who wanted to be paid first before we could communicate information on his radio. And I rejected that because I thought that ISOFOR, the Rwandan national radio was a public radio and what we were doing was a public service.

So once more, I would like to thank for the financial support of Switzerland that made it possible to organize this historic symposium. I use that adjective "historic" to comment the scope of the event because it is really the first time that such a reflection is being conducted at the international level on the model of the international criminal justice system developed in Arusha whose achievements and challenges have been criticized and examined over these past three days of discussion.

I would like to use this opportunity also to pay tribute to the journalists present amongst us here who have covered Arusha at some stage, André Essoungou, Thierry Cruvellier, Pierre Briand, who did not speak during our proceedings, Stéphanie Maupas. Without that team what happened in a small corner of Africa would have remained entirely unknown. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to attain almost all regions of the world. I am not doing any publicity, but ever since André left, even though at some points he was very critical, that is part of his job, we do not have anymore that access to the world Francophone radio.

Lastly, I would like to commend the personal efforts of my friend André Guichaoua. André has worked hard. He has done his level best to give real dimension to this meeting.

I would also like to thank and congratulate warmly that young man who, behind the shadows, was able to shed bright light on the work of our symposium, Christophe Golay. Thank you once more, Christophe.

Lastly, on behalf of the ICTR, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the devotion and selflessness of Sylvie Capitant. Sylvie has spared no effort in the preparation and organization of this symposium. We are deeply gratified today that we have a quality reference document that presents the proper midterm evaluation of the ICTR. And I do invite you to catch the train on the move, to find time and read that document that has been prepared for us. Sylvie Capitant’s visit to Arusha gave us the opportunity to appreciate her clear sightedness, her tact, her diplomacy, her courage, her patience. And that is why on behalf of the Tribunal, I will say Sylvie Capitant, thank you very much.

And in acknowledgement of her personal contribution, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is pleased to present to her this symbolic gift, which is a token of our humble appreciation.

I would also like to call up Christophe Golay to join us up here to receive our modest gift.

My dear friends, I thank you all for your kind attention. And while hoping to see you for a meeting to assess the ICTR when it may have concluded its proceedings, I thank you once more, and I wish you all a safe journey back home.

Let me add one small announcement, I have been reminded of something that I overlooked, which, in fact, is part of our tradition, even though this time they are staff of the ICTR. I would like to thank the interpreters, who made it possible for us to communicate. And also the court reporters, our friends, the stenographers and the cameramen. Thank you all.

(Session recessed at 4.45pm)