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International Court : Kigali must cooperate

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RWANDA: UN urges Rwanda to cooperate with war crimes tribunal

NAIROBI, 20 Dec 2002 (IRIN) - The UN Security Council has told theRwandan government that it is obliged "to cooperate fully" with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania.

A statement released by the Security Council on Wednesday said Rwanda had
an obligation to comply with requests made by the UN court for the arrest or detention of indictees and their surrender or transfer to the Tribunal. The government was also obliged to make witnesses available and assist in ongoing investigations, the statement said.

In a letter to the President of the Council released on 2 August at UN headquarters in New York, ICTR President Judge Navanethem Pillay said that ICTR Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had complained of a lack of cooperation from Rwandan authorities. She said the lack of availability of witnesses from Rwanda was likely to hamper the court's judicial work and hinder the Prosecutor's investigations.

In particular, the letter accused the Rwandan authorities of failing to issue travel documents for witnesses in a timely manner to enable them to appear at ongoing trials. Tribunal judges had expressed concern, because three cases had already been postponed several times due to the unavailability of witnesses from Rwanda, Pillay said.

In a nine-page response, Rwanda accused the Tribunal of "a crisis of management, incompetence and corruption of its own making", saying it wished "to challenge the attempt by the Prosecutor to point to Rwanda as the cause of the crisis and not to the Tribunal itself".

Del Ponte has also accused the Rwandans of not cooperating with attempts to investigate human rights abuses said to have been carried out by the Rwandan Patriotic Army in 1994.