You are here


President Joensen’s Address to the ICTR Town Hall Meeting

Mr. Prosecutor,

Mr. Registrar,

Representative of the Staff Association,

Dear Colleagues,

Good Morning. As it has been over six months since our last Town Hall Meeting, it seems an appropriate time for us to once again come together and discuss the current status of the Tribunal’s work, especially as we inch ever nearer to closure. I remain extremely grateful for the opportunity to address you, the staff of the ICTR, and would like to thank Mrs. Kilemi for arranging this meeting. I will begin with a brief overview of the Tribunal’s progress in implementing its Completion Strategy and, thereafter, the Prosecutor will have the opportunity to provide an update on his work and the Registrar will brief you on the latest plans for closure.

First and foremost, I would like to begin my remarks by thanking all of the staff who remain with the Tribunal during this final phase. Without your assistance, the ICTR’s closing and transition to the Mechanism would not be on course and running smoothly. Through your tireless efforts, the international community can feel both confidence in the United Nations’ ability to secure justice and pride in the work that the ICTR has carried out. However, the work of the Tribunal has now spanned over two decades and while many valued colleagues no longer remain with the ICTR, they have not been forgotten.  I would therefore like to send my sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed to the work of the ICTR since its inception and to all those who have been able to join together in a time of need and in the fight against impunity.

I will now provide an update on the work that has been carried out in Chambers since our last Town Hall Meeting in November, as well as the work that remains to be done.  I will then briefly provide you with an update on some aspects of the transition to the Mechanism. 

I am happy to report that the Appeals Chamber has now completed its work with respect to all appeals from ICTR trial judgements, with the exception of one, the Nyiramasuhuko et al. or “Butare” case concerning six persons. The oral hearing in the Butare case took place in April 2015, and now the final stage, judgement drafting, is underway. As I recently reported to the Security Council, the Butare judgement is projected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015.  

At this juncture, I wish to extend a special thanks to all of the Judges and all of the staff, both in Arusha and in The Hague, whose tireless work and dedication will soon see the completion of the last, and one of the largest and most complex cases at the ICTR.  This is truly a tremendous undertaking and one which the Appeals Chamber continues to handle expeditiously while also respecting the rights of the Accused.  

As the Butare appeal represents the last case at the ICTR and considering that the ICTR will close shortly thereafter, it is my pleasure to inform you that the ICTR Legacy Committee is in the process of planning a closing ceremony that will take place in Arusha later this year and will highlight the achievements of the ICTR over the past 21 years while also commemorating the victims and survivors of the Rwandan Genocide.  Staff will be provided with more information on the closing event in due course.

With respect to the transition of functions from the ICTR to the Mechanism, I am pleased to inform you that most judicial and prosecutorial functions have been handed over to the Mechanism. It is especially noteworthy that on 18 December 2014, the Mechanism delivered its first judgement on an appeal from an ICTR trial in the Augustin Ngirabatware case. This judgement and other judicial decisions rendered by the Mechanism ensure that the legacy of the ICTR will continue long afters its doors close.

However, as we wrap up our activities it is important to remain vigilant and safeguard against any mistakes that can occur with an institution so close to its end.  In this regard, my Office began an exhaustive review of judicial work being transitioned to the Mechanism in May 2015. During this review process, it was determined that there are, in fact, four cases of contempt/false testimony before the Tribunal. These indictments were confirmed prior to 1 July 2012 and according to the Transitional Arrangements Annexed to Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010) remain the responsibility of the ICTR. I have now assigned benches to review the indictments and ascertain whether any action is necessary prior to closure of the ICTR.

Further, as our transition to the Mechanism is almost complete, I want to note that the monitoring of all cases referred by the ICTR to national jurisdictions now falls under the jurisdiction of the Mechanism. While the two cases of accused in custody referred to Rwanda are now being monitored by an international body with assistance from the Mechanism, the two cases referred to France are still being monitored on an interim basis by a staff member of the ICTR Appeals Chamber, who provides reports to the President of the Mechanism. I wish to thank the ICTR staff who previously acted as interim monitors in the Rwandan cases, and I would like to especially recognise Ms. Laetitia Husson who continues to take on the responsibility of interim monitoring of the French cases while ensuring it does not impact her core work in the Appeals Chamber.

I would now like to take a moment to recognise the accomplishments of the Registrar, who is overseeing the transition of administrative functions to the Mechanism. Closing down an institution that has been operating for more than 20 years is no small task and I am continually amazed at how much the Registry has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. In fact, one of the most important activities related to closure is the transition and preservation of our records as they are handed over to the Mechanism. I am pleased to report that as of 5 May 2015, the Tribunal has transferred more than 1,700 linear meters of records comprising more than 75% of physical records anticipated for transfer to the Mechanism. While all other records have either been transferred or are being prepared for transfer, judicial records relating to the Butare case have been separated and will be transferred only after the delivery of the appeal judgement. The records that have been transferred thus far and those that will shortly be transferred represent the story of the ICTR and those staff members who work on these projects must be commended for the extremely important work that they continue to carry out with precision.

As of today, the formal closure of Tribunal is planned to occur by the end of 2015, with only the necessary liquidation activities remaining thereafter. While the Registrar will speak more about this, I wanted to conclude by once again repeating that the work of the ICTR will not truly end once the Butare case is finalised.  The traditions, lessons learnt, and continued pursuit of justice for the victims and survivors of one of the worst genocides ever recorded will live on with the Mechanism and with other international and national courts that pursue similar objectives.  In this respect, a workshop on the best practices and lessons learnt in Chambers, the second in an ongoing series, was held recently at the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), where representatives from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the ICC, the ICTR, the ICTY, and the Mechanism engaged in discussions on the technical aspects of providing legal assistance to the judiciary during the pre-trial, trial, and appellate phases.

Further, the lessons of the ICTR can be viewed outside of the courtroom as the Tribunal remains committed to implementing and conducting capacity building programmes across the Great Lakes region and beyond, and through our new legacy website that the Mechanism will soon take over.  Capacity building initiatives, such as the best practices manuals created by the Office of the Prosecutor, which aim to assist other courts to build on the experience of the ICTR, ensure that these courts learn from both the accomplishments and the failures of the ICTR. In the continued fight against impunity we must learn from past mistakes and hopefully, in some small way, the ICTR can be one of many guides used by other judiciaries that bring justice to those accused of such horrific crimes. Thank you very much.

For information only - Not an official document

UN-ICTR External Relations and Communication Outreach Unit | Tel.: +1 212 963 2850