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Home arrow Law arrow United States law and policy on transitional justice : principles, politics, and pragmatics
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D. NARROW Focus

A fourth puzzle questions why, given the large number of genocidaires, the USG decided to support an option—ICT-Tied—that would focus on only a small fraction of alleged perpetrators, even if they were the suspected leaders of the genocide. One explanation, offered by Lake, is that the ICTR could only handle a narrow focus.281 Scheffer concurs, citing experience:

we were at least practical enough in 1994 to understand that going beyond the leadership is nuts, you can’t do it, there are no resources for it ... . That is one of the clear lessons of the 1990s with respect to international criminal justice: that personal jurisdiction cannot be practically undertaken unless it is limited.282

Stanton agrees:

It was recognized right from the start that the UN court wouldn’t have the capacity to handle the huge numbers of people that had been involved in the Rwandan genocide, that most of the prosecutions would have to be handled by the Rwandan national courts. So the idea was to go after the planners and the leaders and the conspirators, like Nuremberg ... and then let other prosecutions go forward in Rwandan courts.283

In this respect, the USG’s approach to the ICTR mirrored its approach to the IMT, the IMTFE, and the ICTY, which also tried only a small fraction of the larger group of suspected atrocity perpetrators.

A second explanation for the ICTR’s limited scope, offered by Lake and Scheffer, is that the GoR wished to prosecute the majority ofgenocidaires and preferred that the ICTR prosecute only a small number of them.284 This request was underscored by the list identifying only fifty-five suspected genocidaires that the RPF provided to Degni-Segui immediately post-genocide, which suggested that the GoR wanted the international community to focus only on this finite group.

A third explanation for the ICTR’s restricted scope would suggest that the USG never intended for UNSC-led prosecutions to be the USG’s only method of dealing with genocidaires. Moreover, on this account, the USG always planned to support addressing a much greater number of genocidaires through additional transitional justice solutions, which it has done.

Because the ICTR was constrained by capacity, and because the USG already planned to support other transitional justice options for dealing with genocid- aires, the ICTR was designed to focus narrowly on a few dozen of the most egregious genocidaires. As discussed above, the GoR’s preferences may have affected or merely reflected the USG’s position. Given that this decision point was not as determined as others, it is possible that the GoR’s preferences were more influential on this issue.

 
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