UN Court Announces Closure Of Rwanda Field Office After 30 Years Of Operations

UN Court Announces Closure Of Rwanda Field Office After 30 Years Of Operations

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), a United Nation’s mechanism established to complete the work of two tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, is set to close its last field office in Rwanda.

This was revealed by Abubacarr M. Tambadou, the IRMCT Registrar, who was in Kigali to announce the development, which marks an end of an era, 30 years after the UN established the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR), to try some of the most wanted fugitives of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Arusha-based tribunal, which was established November 1994, closed doors at the end of December 2015, handing over its remaining work to the IRMCT, which was set up by the UN Security Council in 2010 to perform the remaining functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the ICTR, following their completion of mandate.


“After 40 years of operations and presence here in Rwanda, first, as the ICTR and later IRMCT, the Kigali Field Office will be closed as of 31st August 2024,” Tambadou said.

“What this means is that after almost three decades of operations here, in Rwanda, work that has been carried out in this country first by the ICTR, and now the mechanism which succeeded the ICTR, will no longer be carried out in its usual way,” he added.


“It means that the Kigali field office will no longer exist,” Tambadou said, adding that the UN court will reduce its size, commensurate with a reduction of activities due to the redundancy resulting from the end of its mission.

Tambadou said the closure follows a decision last year by The Hague-based court to drop the case of Felicien Kabuga, who was one of the most sought genocide fugitives, after he was deemed unfit to face trial.

As such, Tambadou said the mechanism no longer has any trials to conduct after it was concluded that two of the remaining wanted fugitives, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana were declared dead by the Prosecutor sometime back.


In May 2022, the UN Prosecutor said that after challenging and intensive investigations, the Prosecutor concluded that Mpiranya died on 5 October 2006 in Harare, Zimbabwe while Bizimana is thought to have died sometime in August 2000, in Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo.

Tambadou said that following the assessment by the Appeals and the Trial Chambers concluding that Kabuga was no longer fit to stand trial, ordering the stay of proceedings indefinitely, consequently with no other trials anticipated at the mechanism, it duly became redundant.

Tambadou said the Arusha-based tribunal will continue to work with Rwanda but in a limited way, given the conclusion of mandate.

“The decision was made to close the Kigali field office as a result. However, let me add that the closure of the field office in Kigali, does not mean an end of engagement between the mechanism and Rwanda,”

“The mechanism will continue to engage with Rwanda in the other mandated activities under the statute of the mechanism but mostly from our branch in Arusha,” the IRMCT Registrar said.

He said that particular services, such as the protection of witnesses will continue to be delivered from the Arusha branch while other services will be transferred to the Rwandan authorities or non-government entity, for the transition and ultimate handover of some of those responsibilities from the mechanism.

Tambadou said that any other cases, including that of Fulgence Kayishema, who was arrested in South Africa last year, and any other fugitives, will be referred to Rwanda.

However, with the IRMC continuing with the mandated activity of tracking fugitives, the Office of the Prosecutor of the mechanism will be retaining a small number of staff in Rwanda to continue their collaboration and cooperation with the Rwandan authorities in the provision of assistance to them, including the tracking of fugitives are still at large.

“The Office of the Prosecutor will be present in Rwanda, albeit in a very limited way, to continue its work and collaboration with Rwandan authorities in the tracking of the remaining fugitives,” he said.

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