The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on 1 March,2005 opened the fourth court room to speed up trials of genocide suspects and to meet the closing UN strategy of 2008.
The Arusha-based international court was established by the UN Security Council to try the key perpetrators of the 1994 massacre, which claimed lives of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Built with a financial contributions from the United Kingdom and Norway in the AICC’s Simba wing (near the VIP Lounge), the court room was completed in a record time of only four weeks. The first three courtrooms were constructed between 1995 and 1999.
Norway contributed US$ 300,000 and the United Kingdom US $120,000 for the construction and running costs until end of 2008, according to Judge Erik Mose, president of ICTR.
He lauded the contributions, adding the fourth courtroom ‘will facilitate steady progress (of the trials) and increase judicial output’.
Judge Mose added:’When the first three courtrooms were constructed during the first mandate, the tribunal had usually about three trials going on over the same period. Now the situation is quite different. The number of trials to be heard in the months ahead of us is nine.’
Lack of courtroom space, he explained, complicated the scheduling of trials and slowed down cases.” For sometime, we have been sitting in morning and afternoon shifts. Each shift allows for about four hours efficient time in the courtroom, whereas full day enables Chamber to sit for six hours,’ he said, adding that therefore each Chamber operating in a shift system, lost about two hours a day, or at least eight hours a week compared to a full day session.
The UK High Commissioner to Tanzania Dr Andrew Pocock and Norway’s Ambassador, also to Tanzania, Jorunn Maehlem, reassured of their government’s commitment to ensure that the tribunal dispenses justice and carries out it mandate as delegated by the UN.
‘All states must demonstrate its full support to the tribunal to ensure justice is done to Rwandan genocide,’ said Ms Maehlem at the officiating of the courtroom.
The UK High Commissioner, Dr Pocock said:’ The work of tribunal has contributed to groundbreaking as far international justice system is concerned.’ Some of the decisions rendered at the Arusha-based court are now referred in other international jurisdictions.
ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow remarked that the fourth court room would ensure quick execution of trials and enhance the capacity of the tribunal.
The officiating of the new courtroom was also attended by Tanzania-based Ambassadors of Belgian, France and Germany , referred as ‘Friends of the ICTR’. The Ambassadors of Netherlands, the US and Canada ‘ also Friends of ICTR’could not make it for the occasion.