THE ROLES AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UN-ICTR
One of the major crimes against humanity in the African history was the Rwandan Genocide. This was an attempt made by the Hutu Militias in Rwanda to eliminate Tutsi – men, women and children – and to erase any memory of their existence. Over a period of 100 days from the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6th through mid-July 1994, out of a population of 7.3 million, about 1,174,000 people were brutally killed.
Approximately 2 million Hutus, with anticipation of Tutsi retaliation, fled from Rwanda to neighboring countries. With the return of the refugees, the Rwandan government began the long-awaited genocide trials which started in 1996. In 2001, a participatory justice system known as Gacaca was set up.
Meanwhile the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established in November 1994 by the UN-Security Council in Resolution 955 in order to try people responsible for the Rwandan genocide and other serious violations of the International Law in Rwanda or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states between 1st January and 31st December 1994. It has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is currently based in Arusha, Tanzania.
The UN-ICTR consists of 3 Judges’ chambers for hearing trials, 1 Appeal chamber for hearing appeals, The Registry and The Prosecutor’s Office.
Of the 95 people responsible for the Genocide in Rwanda, 81 have been arrested, some of them tried and sentenced to various lengths of jail terms. Some are under stages of trials while they are kept in the UN-ICTR detention facility in Arusha. It expects to complete all its work by 2012.
In the absence of such a tribunal, the Rwandan government would have been hard-pressed to negotiate relevant treaties with countries where the genocide attempters were hiding before having them repatriated to Rwanda to stand trial.
The UN-ICTR has played an important role in...