Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Almost a full month!

Almost a month has passed since I began working at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. I can't believe the time has gone so quickly. It's already 1/5th of the way through! My internship in the Office of the Prosecutor has been fascinating work. I'm working in a great trial team (Government 1 team) which has indicted four of the leading political figures in Rwanda at the time of the Genocide. For those unfamiliar with the events of 1994, basically almost 1 million people (mainly Tutsi's) were hacked to death (by the extremist Hutu government in power at the time) in the space of 100 days in a highly systematic and meticulously planned genocide. The international community stood by and ignored the blood-letting, and now the Security Council (in its usual hypocritical fashion) has established an international tribunal to prosecute those involved in the genocide (sometimes I wonder whether the French, Belgium, British and American government officials should also have stood trial for their failing to take an assertive stance in stopping the genocide). Despite the failings however, the existence of the Tribunal is still better than nothing, and it does provide a useful role in establishing international criminal jurisprudence and acting as a deterrent to those officials in other governments who may consider taking the destructive path.

The Tribunal is based in the north of Tanzania, in a small town called Arusha. There is also an investigative office in Kigali, Rwanda. Much of my time here is spent drafting motions, memo's and other documents, sitting in the court room and taking notes of witnesses testifying in other cases, and otherwise sitting at my computer and reading through witness statements. The latter can be very disturbing at times - especially when the witness is describing how entire families were butchered, or women and girls repeatedly raped. The Government 1 case is scheduled to go to trial in March/April and once that happens, it will be a very hectic and exciting period. One of the most 'interesting' parts of the day for me is when I have little work to do and I shoot downstairs to the courtrooms and watch the trials. You get to see the badboy war criminals in the flesh.

The intern's life here in Arusha is fantastic! It involves going on safaris, climbing mountains (Arusha is right at the foot of Mt. Meru, and are very close to Mt. Kilimanjaro), doing bush treks and other exciting things in the weekends and days off... the evenings generally consist of going out to restaurants, going to the gym/pool (which is great even compared to western standards!) and baking under the hot African sun, or lazing in front of a laptop/TV and watching DVDs. The interns generally become quite close with each other which makes the experience even more enjoyable.


Blogger Eric Neal said...

Hi Roman

Great to hear news of your work an exploits in Tanzania. I totally agree with you regarding the crime of inaction with the world allowing such atrocities to happen. I guess this will go on until we have an effective UN Force that can respond at a moment's notice as soon as this sort of thing starts. I think the world is moving in that direction, but the sooner that the blueprint as outlined in the 'Promise of World Peace' from the Universal House of Justice is implemented the better. Keep up the good work.
Regards, Eric Neal

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