Statement by H.E. Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative and Member of Cabinet, at the Security Council Debate on the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT)

Thank you, Mr. President.

At the outset, let me congratulate the delegation of Spain through you Mr. President for your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of December. Let me also congratulate the Delegation of Senegal for an exceptional work done during its Presidency in the month of November.

I thank Judges Theodor Meron, President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, and Carmel Agius, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, as well as the other previous speakers for their respective briefings and statements.

Mr. President,

As we reflect on the activities of the Mechanism of the International Tribunals, let me reiterate our belief that despite serious shortcomings, the ICTR produced a substantial body of jurisprudence, including definitions of the crime of Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, rape as weapon of war; as well as forms of responsibility, such as superior responsibility.

The Court also went further to conclude in its judicial notice on 2 September 1998 that “Genocide was, indeed, committed in Rwanda against the Tutsi as a group” as well as through Appeal Chamber on 16th June 2006 that it is a “fact of common knowledge” that “[between 6 April and 17 July 1994, there was a Genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group”; and that “[there is no reasonable basis for anyone to dispute that, during 1994, there was a campaign of mass killing intended to destroy, in whole or at least in very large part, Rwanda’s Tutsi population.”

We believe that these were legal doctrines and tests for assessing components of Genocide crime, including the prosecution of 93 individuals, mainly the masterminds; thus standing as an important contribution to the post-Genocide justice, reconciliation and healing in Rwanda.

Despite this however, let me express our concern at ongoing attempts by Genocide perpetrators and their henchmen in the names of scholars, media and politicians to deny the occurrence of the 1994 Genocide committed against the Tutsi; to distort facts and; attempt to rewrite its history. As such actions continue to be an ugly shared reality, we call upon UN member states, individuals, institutions and the broader international community to denounce on unequivocal terms such attempts to deny or trivialize Acts of Genocide, as well as to minimize its scale. We also call upon UN member states, individuals, institutions and the broader international community to hold to account all those who indulge or support Genocide deniers or revisionists.

It is also regrettable that none of the remaining ICTR indicted fugitives have been arrested in the last five years; in addition to other suspects against whom there are ample and indisputable evidence.  We once again call all member states, especially those harboring Genocide fugitives, to honor their obligations to the UN Charter, and the Genocide Convention to arrest, put to trial all suspects in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, or extradite them to where they can be tried, including in Rwanda. Anything short of that raises serious questions on the credibility of their stated commitment to international justice.

We are equally concerned by the worrying pattern of early releases of convicted Genocide masterminds. The observed pattern of reducing sentences of Genocide convicts on appeal is alarming.

We commend recent efforts by Canada, Netherlands and U.S. for recent arrests and extradition to Rwanda and hope that more other countries will do so in respect of Genocide suspects residing in their territories. We also welcomed the prosecution and subsequent convictions of Octavian Ngenzi and Tito Barahira in Paris’ Cour d’Assises; as well as the recent confirmation through Appeal, of the sentence of Pascal Simbikangwa.

We regret that the status of progress in monitoring of cases referred to national courts outside Rwanda remains disappointing, while the procedure of two cases referred to Rwanda in 2012 and 2013 are well advanced. Last year, we noted with concern the decision by the French Prosecution to drop charges against Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a decision that contradicts the nature and scale of the crimes committed in light of available evidence.

The crime of Genocide is imprescriptible and Rwanda will continue to legally pursue and seek answers from individuals, institutions and Governments for the allegations of Acts of commission and omission, without which the Genocide could have either been prevented or deterred expeditiously. At the very least, member states should refuse to grant Genocide perpetrators safe havens in their countries.

Mr. President,

Allow me to come back to the issue of ICTR archives, which is an important matter to the Government of Rwanda and its people.

While we have on many occasions and at different levels, expressed our view on the issue of the archives, and the urgent need for them to be relocated to Rwanda while remaining the property of the UN, we are concerned by the lack of engagement by stakeholders, as well as the unilateral decision to store the Genocide archives in a specific location without involving Rwanda. Location of these important pieces of the History of Rwanda cannot be decided merely on the basis of budgetary, logistical and administrative considerations.

Rwanda also wishes to clarify to this Council and put on record that a significant part of the documents, which compose today’s ICTR archives, were obtained from Rwanda and released as evidence in court and not for possession or archiving. They are legally the property of Rwanda and have yet to be returned to Rwanda.

The ICTR archives are the most comprehensive account of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. A piece of History that Rwanda will not stop demanding for the Genocide happened in Rwanda and that part of our History belongs to Rwanda. Should any party have concerns with our legitimate request, we are open to engaging in a candid conversation with the aim of addressing our longstanding demand.

In conclusion Mr. President, let me assure you of my country’s unwavering commitment to work with all member states and the UN to bring to justice all perpetrators, planners, deniers, and revisionists of the Genocide against the Tutsi who are still at large.

Thank you for your kind attention.