Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought I should complete somehow, from my own standpoints, the information communicated by the head of witness and victim support section at ICTR. I am head of investigations at ICTR. Before Prosecution witnesses reach the courts, they are handed over by investigators. There is so a protective front to witnesses that goes on before that stage. And not every witness from whom a statement has been recorded actually goes to court. So those witnesses need persistent and constant attention. The tendency is to forget that aspect of it.
In fact, if we look at the Rules of Procedure and Evidence at ICTR, Rule 34, only those witnesses who have been slated to go to court are under protection or at least followed up by the witness and victims support section, which gives the Prosecutor. I will have to probably enter a small caveat here that you would probably know. Before investigations started, some time after that, the events themselves, most of the evidence or most of the crime scenes have been disturbed, have been altered. So most of the testimony comes from witnesses. So witnesses become a key element, that’s if you find survivors or victims that are still alive to speak. They become a key element to us, and we need total protection and attention to them.
Now, those who have been slated to go to court, and subsequently cases are going to come, we have a pool of witnesses. If we don’t preserve those witnesses, you may probably not have a trial at all. So what has the Prosecutor done? He has created within his office a Witness Management Team whose duty is to ensure that these witnesses exist and stay up till the time they are needed.
What is our duty? We pay regular visits to those witnesses to ensure they are available, to ensure they have continuous motivation and they are willing to come to court when needed.
They have a peculiar problem. They face the same problems of the security because they have been contacted. In fact, the way we contact them is important. We have a stereotype method of going out. We go out with white cars which are very conspicuous. Even if we do have to ask that the cars be masked, it is difficult to get them because they want to identify us as UN. And so what happens? Witnesses are exposed. So that is a main problem.
We have to put in place a process of visiting the witnesses at least four times a year. So every trimester, every quarter we meet with them. We want to know what problems they have in order to sort them out. You may know that most of these witnesses were victims of sexual violence that have contracted disease and could die. So if we wait for them to be taken to court or to be slated as court as witnesses, they may die before they even have their day in court.
Some of them don’t even have basic food to eat. That’s the main problem we even have about them. They expect to restorative justice. The system didn’t provide for it. So what do investigators have do to have their witness stay on? When you meet a sick patient with a sick child, to talk to this witness, you have somehow to provide something that makes you look humane. And so investigators have to somehow dip into their pockets to give them something to buy medicament or food for the child.
What’s the limit to that so that it is not considered as influencing testimony? That is the question which I am asking all of us to be realistic in the way we approach witnesses.
I just thought I should mention this aspect of the Prosecutor’s Office of looking after witnesses and caring for them even beyond when the cases have started before they are handed over to the witness and victims support section. Thank you very much.