ARUSHA 14 May 2002 (Internews) The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will not establish an office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as requested by Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister Leonard She Okitunde, Kingsley Moghalu, ICTR Spokesperson said today.
Addressing the press in Arusha regarding a letter from Okitunde to Adama Dieng, ICTR Registrar, Moghalu stressed the tribunal “has no immediate plans at this time to open an office in the DRC. The tribunal stresses its expectation of the DRC’s expeditious arrest and hand over of suspects believed to be in the DRC in fulfillment of its obligation to cooperate with the ICTR.”
Moghalu added that the arrest and handing over of genocide suspects in the DRC “will create the necessary conditions for the maintenance of peace in the region.”
In his letter, Okitunde urges Dieng to open a satellite office in the Congolese capital Kinshasa to improve co-operation on investigations and arrests of people suspected to have been involved in the 1994 Rwanda genocide currently in the DRC.
The letter emphasizes that with the ICTR’s presence in the Congo to follow up on the genocide suspects, Rwanda’s continued military presence in DRC would not be necessary, “creating the possibility of peace in the region.”
Dieng visited the DRC and the neighboring Congo-Brazzaville in February this year to discuss with government officials the modalities of handing over genocide suspects indicted by the ICTR.
In August 2000, the US State Department rewards program published a list of 13 people indicted by the ICTR who are still at large.
“A significant number of the people wanted by the ICTR are in these two countries,” Moghalu stressed. “The ICTR and the international community will be concentrating on Africa region … and particularly in the Great Lakes in the following months,” Moghalu stated.