Air Date: March 4, 1997 Program 9709

SEEKING JUSTICE IN RWANDA

Guests:
Karl Paschke, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, United Nations

(This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely
distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

MARY GRAY DAVIDSON, Producer: This is Common Ground.

KARL PASCHKE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, United Nations: Unless justice was brought back to their country, unless the genocide was also addressed as an international crime and those people responsible for committing these crimes were punished, there would not be a return to peace and stability in that area.

DAVIDSON: Seeking justice in Rwanda on this edition of Common Ground. Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It's produced by the Stanley Foundation. I'm Mary Gray Davidson.

In just three months during 1994, half a million people were killed in Rwanda. The dead were mostly from the Tutsi tribe, shot and bludgeoned by their Hutu neighbors. Now nearly three years later, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is beginning to try its first suspects rounded up for war crimes. Earlier this month, the UN inspection team found that the genocide trials, which are taking place in Arusha, Tanzania, a country next to Rwanda, have been crippled by poor management and lack of support from the UN's New York headquarters. Two top officials from the court have been dismissed so far. Karl Paschke, my guest today, is the Inspector-General who issued the highly critical report.

PASCHKE: We saw that the administration of the tribunal was very poorly set up. There was almost nothing really functioning in terms of the accounting system, financial management, cash management, the setting up of the registry, the hiring of local people, the hiring selection and recruitment of investigators and prosecutorial civil servants. Not even the construction of the second courtroom, which was important to have, had started and...

DAVIDSON: Was that so there could be concurrent trials?

PASCHKE: Yes. And all of these administrative details that you can think of were not really functioning properly. This was our major criticism. The response that we had from the people in the field was that they felt there was a lack of support from headquarters in New York and this is what we also focused on in our analysis and in our criticism; that indeed, the Secretariat in New York did not really fully embrace its role, the role that it should have played in the setting up of this court. The Secretariat did not even select for the key functions there, people who were adequately trained and professionally qualified. And this was the major problem which is incidentally now being addressed and has been addressed by a number of very quick and spontaneous decisions to bring back some people who had not been up to the job and replaced them with people who were better qualified to take over these administrative functions.

DAVIDSON: I'm wondering—if you wouldn't mind backing up—I realize that your job is looking at this tribunal, but I thought maybe we should put it in context for our listeners; and if you wouldn't mind, talk about why the tribunal was formed.

PASCHKE: The ethnic violence broke out in '94-95 and led to what I really have to call genocide. Many hundreds of thousands of Rwandese were killed.

DAVIDSON: Some figures say as many as half a million.

PASCHKE: Yes. And the international community which at that time mandated the United Nations to try to do something about it, at the end after the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda had a certain effect and indeed, was to a certain extent, able to pacify the country again. The international community then felt that it was not enough to restabilize the area. There was also an obligation to come to grips with these atrocities and try to bring back justice to that country, to find those who were responsible for genocide and punish them. And the feeling was that this was not only an obligation that should be addressed by the judiciary in Rwanda, but that the international community had an obligation to address this. As was the case in another ethnic struggle that the world knows about, that in former Yugoslavia, and it is not accidental that for these two areas, international criminal tribunals were established. Now when I said that the international community felt that this should be done, the international community pronounced itself through the United Nations. In the General Assembly this feeling was articulated but then particularly in the Security Council, this question was addressed. And the Security Council felt that unless justice was brought back to that country, unless the genocide was also addressed as an international crime and those people responsible for committing these crimes were punished, there would not be a return to peace and stability in that area.

In my view, the establishment of these two courts, the one in The Hague which is addressing the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and the one in Arusha and Kigali which is supposed to deal with the crimes committed in Rwanda, if they succeed will be a very significant step towards the establishment of an international, criminal court of justice, which would then become a permanent new organ of the United Nations. And it would be a quantum leap in the development of international law if we had this.

DAVIDSON: Yes, you've been quoted as saying that these tribunals are holding the most important trials since Nuremberg and is that why, because it would be this evolution in international law?

PASCHKE: Yes indeed. You see, since the Nuremberg trials, no other attempts have been made by the international community to come to grips on an international criminal legal basis with crimes committed in the international field, crimes like genocide. But genocide, for instance, is indeed a crime with an international dimension. It may today mostly happen within one country, but it is still and has become through the development of world conscience an international crime, a crime that concerns the world community. And therefore, I believe that the world today is prepared to take that step towards the establishment of an international legal authority that deals with international crimes.

DAVIDSON: Do you see, since we've already made the comparison with the Nuremberg trials, is there a difference in these tribunals in that it is not necessarily the victors who are holding court?

PASCHKE: Yes, of course. This is a very significant difference between the Nuremberg trials and these trials we are talking about now because the trials in Rwanda and in The Hague dealing with former Yugoslavia are held on behalf of the world community, on behalf of the international community which articulated its intention to have these trials happen through the United Nations. That is the one difference, one very significant difference between the Nuremberg trials which were set up by the victorious powers of World War II and the world community.

DAVIDSON: There's an expression that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but do you fear that this length of time, now two years have passed since the Rwanda tribunal was formed, do you have any fear that the passage of time could affect its ability to do justice?

PASCHKE: I see this problem. In our report we have said that since the pace of achievement of this court has been too slow, we are seeing the phenomenon of justice delayed which is tantamount to justice denied. And this is why we believe every effort now has to be made to make this court a success. Because indeed, the more time elapses between now and the verdicts that are handed down, of course the less solid evidence becomes and the less striking the impact of such verdicts would be. Because after all, verdicts, at least verdicts handed down by an international court, do not only have the intention to punish the culprit but they also have to have the intention of setting an example of shaping the conscience of the world for the future.

DAVIDSON: We'll be back after a short break. My guest today is Karl Paschke, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, which investigates and reports on problems within the United Nations system. Paschke's office earlier this month issued a report critical of the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda.

Printed transcripts and audiocassettes of this program are available and at the end of the broadcast I'll give you details on how to order. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.

To date, how many people are in custody and how many have gone to trial?

PASCHKE: I think that right now 21 people have been indicted, 13 are in custody, but these figures are changing and they are in a way fluid because we expect a sizeable number of new indictments to be handed down very soon and also a number of detainees who are waiting extradition in other parts of Africa to be transferred to Arusha in the few weeks.

DAVIDSON: In Rwanda, in the massacres that occurred in 1994, is it possible to point the finger at any one person responsible such as a Pol Pot or a Hitler or a Stalin?

PASCHKE: I am, because of an earlier experience I have had in my diplomatic career, quite familiar with the area over there. I used to serve in Kinshasa, Zaire in the late '60s and early '70s. I know Rwanda quite well from these days. It is a small but very densely populated country. I do know that there were a number of people, highly placed people, who were actually quite involved in stirring up this mass hysteria that led to genocide, but I wouldn't be able to pinpoint one individual. I think that's also not really what my role should be here in commenting, because the tribunal has to define the prosecutorial strategy and they will, I trust, will know who they are really going after and I'm quite sure that their intention is not only to bring to trial as many people as they possibly can, but really make sure that they have those who have committed the greatest either number of crimes, or who would carry the greatest degree of responsibility for what has happened.

DAVIDSON: Through the course of investigating your report, were you traveling to Rwanda regularly?

PASCHKE: As I said, we sent a team of both investigators and auditors to Arusha and Kigali and they spent weeks in the country. We will, in the next few months, probably in May or June 1997, send another team to follow up on the recommendations that we have made and that team will then look at what we hope is going to be significant improvement in the situation. This is how we work and we make sure that the recommendations that we make are followed and we really monitor the implementation until we are satisfied that indeed they have been complied with.

DAVIDSON: The reason I ask about the travel of you and your teams back to Rwanda is that there are still foreigners who are being murdered there—foreign aid workers, a Catholic priest was recently killed. Is this dangerous work for you and your team and the people that you're dealing with, because I imagine there are a lot of people in Rwanda who do not want to see your work go on?

PASCHKE: Well I wouldn't exclude that there is a certain danger involved in all of this but I'd much rather focus on the dangers that are imminent there and very present there on a daily basis for those who work there for the tribunal. The investigators, the trial attorneys and the judges, at least those who are working in Kigali and its surroundings; not in Arusha where of course everything is very peaceful, but in the Kigali area of course we are very concerned for the security of our people, for the people who after all are working on behalf of the United Nations. And I see a great deal of danger for them right now, much more danger than say six weeks ago, and therefore...

DAVIDSON: Why is that? Because of the recent killings?

PASCHKE: Because of the recent surge of violence again and I just wanted to tell you that in the Secretariat here, we have in the past few days discussed very thoroughly the options we have in beefing up security in Kigali and its surroundings for that purpose.

DAVIDSON: And then of course, there are the people of Rwanda themselves who have yet to have any sense of closure or justice who are now back living together. I read articles about Hutus and Tutsis who are now neighbors again, knowing that one or the other may have committed some atrocity against their family or friends and that, I imagine, makes your work even more imperative, to bring this to a closure for the people of Rwanda.

PASCHKE: That is true. After all, I mean, the ultimate rationale for the entire tribunal work and also for my work to try to make that tribunal function properly, the number one rationale for all of this is the people of Rwanda who are in our view, entitled to justice being done and are entitled to come to grips with this violent past and there is probably no other way to bring this nation together again, to overcome these ethnic rifts that are so apparent there. And it is, yes, a very, very daunting task for the entire world community to come to grips with and overcome these ethnic troubles that are popping up in many quarters on this globe in the recent years. And have only been subdued in the past because of the East-West conflict and the with the East-West conflict gone, as you know, it is an observation worldwide that ethnic troubles within individual countries are sprucing up more and more. This is a genuine concern for the world community and that is why I have said before, one of the more important tasks of the world community today is to establish an international criminal justice that would address those crimes that are committed within ethnic groups and somehow stabilize a system of international justice.

DAVIDSON: There are some Africans who have charged that the United Nations really has put more effort into the Yugoslav war crimes court, tribunal, than it has in the tribunal in Rwanda and that that is a part of the problem. But, is that your conclusion? Do you agree with that accusation?

PASCHKE: No, I think this accusation is unfounded. However, there is a difference that maybe has given rise to this perception. The fact is that the international criminal tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague was fully embraced, supported, and nurtured by the host country, The Netherlands, from the first day on.

DAVIDSON: And it was also just physically prepared to handle this.

PASCHKE: Well that's what I'm saying. The Netherlands, which is after all the host country also for the international court of justice, is fully committed to making this international criminal tribunal for Yugoslavia work. They have given all the support that this tribunal needed. In Tanzania, the situation is quite different.

DAVIDSON: Where the Rwanda court is located?

PASCHKE: Arusha, where the tribunal for Rwanda is located is in Tanzania and Tanzania is a small developing country and Arusha is a very small, provincial town. It is not, as you know, the capital of Tanzania so we are talking here about a rather limited communications structure, a very limited infrastructure, you don't have the resources there, you don't have the means to pick up needed material right there in Arusha, so everything was much more difficult in the setting up, in the simple administrative organization and structuring of the court in Arusha. And I believe that this is really the reason why the Rwanda tribunal has had much more difficulties to get going than the Yugoslavia tribunal.

DAVIDSON: Is it up to speed now, in your opinion?

PASCHKE: No, not yet. But I trust that in reaction to our report the necessary steps will be taken and the Secretary-General himself is committed to take decisive action to make the tribunal work and provide it with the necessary resources, both human and financial.

DAVIDSON: Do you feel that it's more an issue of—this is an entirely new process so this is a learning process or were there people who were deliberately trying to hold back the work of the tribunal?

PASCHKE: I have no evidence whatsoever that anybody dragged their feet or anything with malicious intent to kind of doom this court from the start. That was in my view, in the view of my investigators and auditors, not the problem. The problem was lack of expertise, lack of professionalism and also of course, lack of experience on the part of the Secretariat in general for the setting up of such a complex operation. To set up an international court in a small African town with very limited resources, with a mandate that was not totally clear, is a very, very difficult task.

DAVIDSON: Would it have been impossible to hold the Rwanda tribunal at The Hague?

PASCHKE: I'm not sure if I can give you...

DAVIDSON: I'm just wondering why it wasn't held there in the first place.

PASCHKE: Well, first of all, I want to underline once again that this tribunal was set up to address the international crimes being committed in Rwanda during a certain time. I think the decision to have this court close to where it all happened was a good one. I'm doubtful if the decision to choose this little town of Arusha for the court was particularly intelligent. But it is a decision that was taken on the political level and we have to live with it and we have to make it, after all, a success. But once again, I don't think that a report that deals with international crimes committed in central Africa should be set up in Europe. It should be near the scene.

DAVIDSON: Well hopefully, there won't be a need for such a court again but if there is, that some good lessons have been learned.

PASCHKE: Yes, I believe indeed. I wish these lessons had been learned earlier but yes, I think the international community in general and the United Nations Secretariat in particular, will draw the appropriate lessons from this experience in Rwanda and indeed, as you just said, we just want to hope that these lessons will never have to be applied again.

DAVIDSON: United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Karl Paschke, has been my guest on Common Ground. His office of Internal Oversight Services has been investigating why the UN's international criminal tribunal for Rwanda has been so slow to prosecute those accused of helping carry out the massacre of half a million Rwandans in 1994. For Common Ground, I'm Mary Gray Davidson.

Cassettes and transcripts of this program are available. The transcripts are free of charge and the cassettes cost $5.00. To order a tape or transcript, or if you'd like to share your thoughts about the program, you can write to us at the Stanley Foundation, 216 Sycamore Street, Suite 500, Muscatine, Iowa 52761. Be sure to refer to Program No. 9709. To order by credit card, you can call us at 319-264-1500. Our e-mail address is commonground@stanleyfdn.org.

Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.


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