GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 788 [19991027]

GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 788 [19991027]

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN-CEA Update 788 for the Great Lakes (Wednesday 27 October 1999)


RWANDA: "Historical" year for genocide court RWANDA: "Urgent need" for prison facilities RWANDA: New genocide trial opens RWANDA: Potential new drought in east RWANDA: Increase in DRC returnees DRC: MONUC row reportedly resolved DRC: Minister "astonished" at proposed UN deployment DRC: Kinshasa demands clarifications DRC: Zimbabwe spends $3 million a month DRC: Ilunga wants Kabila charged DRC: Uganda rejects complaint UGANDA: Foreign minister criticises UN for neglect BURUNDI: Government criticises UN human rights envoy

RWANDA: "Historical" year for genocide court

The past year has been "historical" for the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to its fourth annual report, issued at UN headquarters on Monday. The report, covering the period July 1998 to June 1999, said the Tribunal's first four convictions of genocide suspects had been delivered during the year, "thereby beginning the process of transforming aspirations for international criminal justice into reality". During the period, nine more accused persons were arrested in Togo, Namibia, Mali, Benin, Kenya and South Africa and transferred to Arusha, and 31 indicted people were now in custody awaiting trial in connection with the 1994 genocide, the report said.

Another significant development was the ruling by the Court that rape constituted an act of genocide, because it had been systematic and perpetrated against Tutsi women only, the report stated. Also during the period, a third Trial Chamber was established to speed up the ICTR's work, and awareness of the Tribunal's activities was raised within Rwanda, it said. The ICTR's work represented a "collective effort on behalf of the international community to bring justice and truth to the people of Rwanda", the report concluded.

RWANDA: "Urgent need" for prison facilities

Meanwhile, the availability of prison facilities for people convicted by the ICTR remained "a serious concern," the annual report said. Mali and Belgium had offered to provide prison facilities for the enforcement of Tribunal sentences, while Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark had made offers "with conditions", the report said. Benin and Madagascar had also indicated their willingness to provide their prison facilities, and discussions with other states were continuing, it said. But as the Tribunal's work progressed, there was an "urgent need" for further international cooperation for the imprisonment of genocide convicts, it added.

RWANDA: New genocide trial opens

The trial of genocide suspect Ignace Bagilishema began at the ICTR on Wednesday, the Hirondelle news agency said. Bagilishema, former mayor of Mabanza in the western Kibuye prefecture, is accused of playing a leading role in the massacre of Tutsis who fled to the region during the genocide. The prosecutor said on Wednesday that the suspect had participated in the creation of the Interahamwe militia and had taken no steps to prevent the 1994 massacres in and around Mabanza. "Instead, he used his influence to orchestrate and lead them," the prosecutor told the Court. The prosecution intended to bring about 29 witnesses to prove its case, while the defence has signalled its intention to plead an alibi, Hirondelle reported.

RWANDA: Potential new drought in east

About 100,000 vulnerable people in drought-affected eastern and southern prefectures require food aid, OCHA-Kigali, citing WFP estimates, said in its latest humanitarian update. It said a recent government-WFP crop and food supply assessment mission had found that drought had significantly affected the 1999B agricultural season, particularly in the prefectures of Kibungo, Umutara and Gikongoro. Meanwhile, should lack of rain persist in the coming weeks, some parts of Rwanda may experience serious food shortages by December or January, the report, received by IRIN on Wednesday, said. Although rains for the 2000A season started two weeks earlier than normal, the very limited rains over the past two weeks may lead to another wave of drought, mainly in the east, it said.

RWANDA: Increase in DRC returnees

The number of Rwandan refugees returning from eastern DRC has increased in September-October to an average of 500 per week, the OCHA-Kigali report said. The total number of returnees registered since January was now about 27,700, it said, citing UNHCR figures. The returnees, most of whom arrive from North Kivu through Gisenyi, receive plastic sheeting and other non-food items from UNHCR, while WFP provides a food ration of pulses and maize. As most returnees move to new resettlement sites in Rwanda, they need seeds and tools to start cultivating, the report added.


The UN observer mission in DRC (MONUC) stated on Tuesday that it had resolved a row with the Kinshasa authorities and would now deploy simultaneously to rebel-held and government-controlled areas on Thursday. "I am pleased to announce that we have the full support of the government to start our work," Reuters reported Major David Hannah as having said on Congolese state television. A new list of deployment locations included Goma, controlled by the Rwandan-backed rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), and Gbadolite, held by Jean-Pierre Bemba's Ugandan-backed Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), the report added, while not detailing the sites to be visited in government-controlled areas.

DRC: Minister "astonished" at proposed UN deployment

Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi said on Monday the DRC was "astonished" that MONUC had sought to deploy military observers "exclusively in the region of national territory where security is already ensured" and where, he said, there was neither contact between the belligerents nor presence of "non-invited foreign forces". "The UN authorities are asking us to allow them deploy in places that we find strange, namely to Matadi, Kamina, Mbuji-Mayi and Kananga ... There are no rebels, no aggressors in those places," Ndombasi said in a press briefing, reported by state television. "There is a trap in all this, which we have denounced strongly," he added.

DRC: Kinshasa demands clarifications of observer mission

Ndombasi said the DRC had expressed "the strongest reservations" about MONUC's proposed deployment, which he said was "contrary to the spirit and letter of the Lusaka accord", and demanded clarification of its mission, security demands and reasons for selecting deployment sites. In addition, he said, both sides would have to agree on the nature of the goods, supplies and equipment being brought into the country. "They claim that we do not have the right to know the contents of their luggage. We do not agree. We say that out sovereignty should prevail there too," Ndombasi stated.

DRC: Zimbabwe spends $3 million a month

The Zimbabwean government has deployed about 10,000 troops in the DRC at a cost of some US $3 million a month, government sources told IRIN on Wednesday. A senior government official said the Zimbabwean defence force was also holding an estimated 300 prisoners of war (POWs) at various base camps in the DRC. A further 49 Rwandese POWs had been transferred to Zimbabwe where they were being held in military detention. [For details, please refer to separate IRIN item of 27 October headlined: "ZIMBABWE: The DRC intervention in official figures."]

DRC: Ilunga wants Kabila charged with crimes against humanity

The leader of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) faction, Emile Ilunga, on Monday said President Laurent-Desire Kabila should be charged with crimes against humanity, the Associated Press (AP) reported. "There has been a constant violation of human rights," Ilunga said, during a visit to the US. "Thousands died at his order and millions were left in abject poverty." Ilunga is in the US to gain support for the Lusaka peace agreement and put forward the RCD's point of view.

DRC: Uganda rejects complaint at international assembly

The government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila last week lodged a complaint about Ugandan and Rwandan "refusal to withdraw from its territory" at the 29th assembly of EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the Bahamas. Uganda's Deputy Speaker Edward Ssekandi told parliament on Monday he had ably defended Uganda against the accusations. "I told the assembly that the Lusaka Agreement allowed the former belligerents to continue providing security until such time as the terms of the Lusaka agreement are implemented," the independent 'Monitor' newspaper quoted him as saying. The EU-ACP assembly subsequently passed a resolution in favour of the Lusaka accord and called on the international community to assist its implementation, Ssekandi added.

UGANDA: Foreign minister criticises UN for neglect

Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alfred Mubanda said that while the UN was active in tackling international problems, it had neglected third world countries, and especially Africa, as was evident in its non-intervention during the Rwandan genocide. The UN could do a lot for developing countries but was "sceptical about interference in conflicts in Africa" since its failed intervention in Somalia, the 'Monitor' quoted Mubanda as saying. Many of the UN's challenges for the 21st century were in Africa, including debt, declining export revenues and aid, and the marginalisation of Africa within the global economy, Mubanda added.

BURUNDI: Government criticises UN human rights envoy

The Burundi government has criticised the newly-appointed UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, for "a one-sided and partial monitoring" of the facts during her recent visit to the country. In a statement received by IRIN on Wednesday, the government accused her of not yet knowing enough about the country. "She should not lose herself in sensationalism which defies reality and promotes the genocidal terrorists," the statement said. "Madame Keita makes no distinction between the facts linked to regroupment and those linked to the war," it added.

Nairobi, 27 October 1999, 15:00 gmt


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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