Action for Rwandan Genocide Witnesses sign now

Action for Rwandan Genocide Witnesses (ARGW)

E-mail: [emailĀ protected] Toronto Ontario,Telephone: 416-528-8663 or 416-822-2749

Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary-General for the United Nations
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Secretary-General:

We are writing you on behalf of Rwandan witnesses in the ongoing International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) trials in Arusha, Tanzania mainly women who are infected with HIV/AIDS, to bring to your attention the scandalous double standard that these women continue to be subjected to in a process whose stated aim is to help bring some justice to the victims of the Tutsi genocide of 1994 in Rwanda.

As you are aware, the United Nations through the ICTR, provides HIV/AIDS medicines to convicted and alleged genocide perpetrators or genocidaires mainly men in its custody if they are infected with HIV/AIDS in order to sustain them to stand trial. This is reasonable on all accounts. However, the absence of adequate HIV/AIDS treatment for genocide victims serving as witnesses is inexplicable and morally indefensible given their indispensable role in helping the ICTR meet its mandate.

The current ICTR practice of treating the convicted in custody while ignoring their victims is unconscionable and unacceptable.

As we commemorate the tenth (10th) anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, where once again an entire group of people was being wiped out for its ethnicity, we take the United Nations commitment to reflect on what happened in Rwanda with particular seriousness:

We must remember the victims - the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children abandoned to systematic slaughter while the world, which had the capacity to save most of them, failed to save more than a handful, forever sullying the collective conscience. We must also help the survivors still struggling with the physical and psychological scars.

Survivor groups advocating for these witnesses in Rwanda have repeatedly been dismissed by successive ICTR Registrars.

Therefore, we urge you to immediately rectify this gross additional injustice against the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, by adopting the following recommendations:

Immediately direct the ICTR to provide HIV/AID medicines and Antiretroviral drugs to all infected women victims serving as witnesses in ICTR proceedings in Arusha.

Retroactively provide appropriate compensation to the remaining family members of the women witnesses who have died of HIV/AIDS while the accused genocide perpetrators were being kept alive by receiving treatment through the ICTR.

Set up an independent review of the ICTR Witness Program with a view to improving its services to both current and future witnesses and particularly rectifying the present inequity by ensuring adequate medical care for those living with HIV/AIDS as is provided to those convicted of or charged with genocide.

Immediately issue an apology to all women witnesses and their representatives and institute an improved framework that facilitates exchange of information between the ICTR and witnesses or their representatives.

We look forward to your prompt response and cooperation on this most urgent matter.

Sincerely,
Action for Rwandan Genocide Witnesses (ARGW),

Natasha Nsabimana and Kanga Kalisa, spokespeople

In coalition with:
Association Des Veuves du GŠ¹nocide D'avril AVEGA-AGAHOZO, Rwanda
PRO-FEMMES, Rwanda
Gerald Caplan, Author, Rwanda: The preventable genocide, Canada
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, Canada
Remembering Rwanda, Canada












cc: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
Canadas Ambassador to the UN
Rwandas Ambassador to the UN
US Ambassador the to the UN
African Union
European Union

Action for Rwandan Genocide Witnesses (ARGW)

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