- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2002

Frustration in Rwanda
The Rwandan government lashed out last week at the U.N. genocide tribunal, accusing court officials of negligence, mismanagement and disinterest.
"We've come to the point where we feel the international community does not care about justice for Rwanda," said Rwandan Prosecutor General Gerard Gahima."One wonders whether [the tribunal] is necessary at all."
Rwandan officials were in New York last week to complain to the Security Council, U.N. legal office and the media about prolonged vacancies in key positions and high-level in-fighting that have compromised the tribunal's efficiency.
Witness protection efforts have frequently failed, resulting in revenge killings, Mr. Gahima said. As a result, genocide survivors are increasingly reluctant to testify, further compromising the trials.
The Rwandan also repeated claims that defendents are getting rich in detention through fee-splitting arrangements with court-funded lawyers and investigators.
Making matters worse, he said, at least two indictees were found to be working for the tribunal as investigators.
"The tribunal, which was set up to try people accused of genocide, has in fact become a safe haven for them," Mr. Gahima said.
Senior staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have acknowledged that genocide suspects have been accidentally hired. They also acknowledge the fee-splitting and difficulties in protecting witnesses.
Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, making her own visit to the Security Council last week, expressed frustration that the Rwandan government was not being more cooperative, accusing Kigali of hampering investigations and preventing witnesses from testifying.
Mr. Gahima rejected the accusations, and singled out The Hague-based Mrs. Del Ponte for blistering criticism, saying that prosecuting the Rwandan genocide had become "one person's part-time job."
He pointed out that the office of the deputy prosecutor had been vacant for more than 14 months.
"The government and the people of Rwanda have misgivings about its performance," Mr. Gahima told members of the Security Council. "A $100 million budget and 1,000 staff [and] they have only concluded five trials? The pace is quite unacceptable."

Embarrassment in Prague
The incoming president of the General Assembly, former Czech Foreign Minster Jan Kavan, is under a bit of a cloud at home. It seems that a one-time senior aide has been accused of ordering a hit on an investigative journalist who had been looking into a Moscow real estate deal in which the two were involved.
Former Ministry official Karel Srba is suspected of participating in a plot to kill the reporter, who has been writing about a Czech government-owned building in Moscow that has been leased under curious circumstances to private firms. Foreign Ministry officials are thought to have been making money on the deal.
Czech President Vaclav Havel last week urged that Mr. Kavan "reconsider his competence to discharge some of the posts he is holding," an apparent reference to the General Assembly presidency.
In the past week Mr. Kavan who is not directly implicated in the Moscow scheme or the murder plot has denied any wrongdoing, argued that Mr. Srba was not that close an associate, and affirmed his intention to preside over the world body.
This year's assembly opens on Sept. 10 with the high-profile general debate slated for Sept. 12-20.

Population funding
Two days after Washington announced it would not release its annual $34 million payment to the U.N. Population Fund, the European Union announced a supplemental $33 million for sexual and reproductive health programs.
The money, including roughly $20 million for UNFPA, will be used in 22 African, Pacific and Latin nations that would be hard hit by the loss of the U.S. funding. The program will span three years and has been under discussion since last year, according to the U.N. agency.
The United States has long been uneasy about supporting UNFPA, which operates under the shadow of a harsh one-child policy in China. Fund officials have repeatedly said they neither support the policy nor provide abortions, but pro-life critics of the program remain unswayed.
Betsy Pisik may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide