The recent accusations by a Danish judge assigned to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), that the court was being manipulated by its president, Judge Theodor Meron, did not surprise many in Rwanda.
Meron is also the president of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) who has made some controversial decisions, on several occasions, by overruling the lower chamber and set war criminals free, sometimes on technicalities.
The revelations by Judge Frederik Harhoff that Meron had resorted to arm twisting his fellow judges to let convicted criminals walk to freedom, only vindicates Rwanda’s position that the court is not independent but is remote-controlled by some dark forces.
Many a times, the lower court has handed down stiff sentences only for them to be ridiculously reduced or thrown out all together. Now, it seems, the baffling mystery behind the questionable decisions has been laid bare: Instead of the tribunal passing down justice on behalf of the victims of the Genocide, it has been dancing to the tunes of its handlers all along.
Victims of the Genocide lost their confidence in the tribunal a long time ago, the only consolation they got was through our own Gacaca courts which juggled meting out justice and rebuilding trust and reconciliation at the same time.
The past 19 years have been a very sobering lesson; the ball should always be in our court because no one cares for the over one million who died while the world was watching, only we.
But that is not the end of the road. Victims’ hope will always be kept alive with the premise that justice will one day catch up with the criminals, the likes of Meron notwithstanding.