Yussuf Munyakazi is alleged to have planned, instigated, ordered, participated in and otherwise aided and abetted the killing of Tutsi civilians who took refuge in several churches in Rwanda’s Bugarame commune, where he led an Interahamwe militia between April and July 1994.Mr. Munyakazi, who was also a prominent local businessman and farmer, was arrested in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2004 and brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).Announcing its decision yesterday to deny the prosecution application to refer the case to the Rwandan court system, the ICTR said that while the country has abolished the death penalty, its sentence of life imprisonment in isolation potentially contravenes international human rights standards.Additionally, the tribunal expressed reservations about Mr. Munyakazi’s right to a fair trial. In particular, it voiced concern regarding the independence of the judiciary. 29 May 2008The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the 1994 Rwandan genocide has announced that it has turned down an application to refer the case of a former militia leader to the legal system of the small African nation.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its 153 States parties, opened its 84th session today with a call for strengthening the whole UN human rights system.The Committee, which regularly considers States parties’ compliance reports, and Eric Tistounet, representative of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the concluding observations would assist the States parties concerned in developing legislation, policies and programmes in the field of human rights.At the same time, they would be of particular use for the Office, both at headquarters and in the field, as well as for other UN bodies and other partners in the formulation and implementation of strategic human rights country engagements.The intensive efforts put forward by the Committee and their results through case law, general comments and concluding observations should be translated into concrete and effective enjoyment of human rights by all at the local level, he said.The whole UN human rights system, including the Office, as well as human rights bodies and mechanisms, should be strengthened to ensure better implementation of fundamental freedoms and rights worldwide.He noted that High Commissioner Louise Arbour had elaborated the OHCHR Plan of Action, which set out a strategy to deal with the key challenge of implementation, focusing on two overarching goals: protecting human rights and empowering people to assert and claim their rights.In his report on UN reform issued earlier this year, “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed replacing the Commission on Human Rights, currently the main UN human rights body, with a standing Human Rights Council whose members would be elected directly by the General Assembly and who “undertake to abide by the highest human rights standards.”