Your Excellency:

We the undersigned human rights groups urge you to ensure that any changes in the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) do not undermine the independence of the tribunal or its capacity to render justice fully and impartially.

We acknowledge that the ICTR has been plagued by management problems throughout the institution, including inconsistent leadership and the lack of an effective prosecution strategy in the office of the prosecutor. These inadequacies must be addressed, but, in making changes to improve the efficiency of the ICTR, the Security Council must take great care to safeguard the independence and impartiality of the tribunal. In particular, the Security Council must ensure that any changes do not undermine the ICTR's efforts to prosecute charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).

The Security Council should clearly and publicly reaffirm its support for the prosecutor in the execution of his or her duties, including prosecutions of those charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, regardless of their political, ethnic, or national affiliation. It should make clear that this policy includes members of the RPA.

The Security Council should assure the Office of the Prosecutor of the time needed to investigate these crimes of the RPA, even if this requires investigations to continue beyond the current deadline of 2004 and it should notify the government of Rwanda that its full cooperation is required under Chapter VII for all work of the ICTR, whether it involves genocide or other crimes.

Only if the ICTR dispenses justice fully, impartially, and to all parties will it fulfill the purpose for which the Security Council established it, contributing to peace and reconciliation in the region.

Sidiki Kaba
Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme

Mike Posner
Executive Director
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Alioune Tine
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme