Lisa P. Nathan: So, what did you first hear about the ICTR, what was your perception of it before you came to work here?
Yes, so basically my perception was that it was a very dangerous place to go to and, but finally my husband convinced me. He went to Kigali and, you know, occasionally would call back to say – he had also been in Zagreb in Croatia so he occasionally would call back to say, “It’s not so bad, it’s not what you see on CNN. It’s not as terrible as what you see – what, what’s happened here is terrible but it’s not as terrible as what you see on CNN.”
And so we decided at some point that we were going to leave the US and then come to live in Rwanda with him because Rwanda was declared a family duty station, I think in 1996, and so we decided we will all come. But we also decided that it wasn’t safe for the children to come along and so the children went to, to, to boarding school while I went to, to Rwanda. And it wasn’t until 1998 that I applied for a job myself with, with the IC-, ICTR.
LPN: Thank you. So can you tell me about your current role here and the responsibilities that you have? What does the role of Chief of Information and Evidence entail?
Basically this section is responsible for all information that comes into the, that comes into the Office of the Prosecutor from investigations mostly. Any, any information from the field is submitted directly by the investigator to the Information and Evidence section’s office. We have a sub office in Kigali manned by two people and so they are the first person, the first people to receive the evidence coming from the field and they register the evidence in Kigali, then they are pouched and sent to us in, in Arusha.
And in Arusha we go through a process of registering the material. We have something we call the Truth Book. We would re-register this in the Truth Book so that we have the Truth Book in, in Arusha that is the reflection of the Truth Book in Kigali. We would assign evidence registration numbers to the original material, digitize, and then we take the originals to the vault, while the copies are made available to the attorneys on their desktop.
And we don’t normally refer to the original unless the court has asked to see it or the defense has asked to see it so, even the attorneys want to be sure of something before they use the material. That was the traditional role of the evidence section but as time went on, I think there was this recognition that informa-, storing information was okay but you needed to add some value to the information that you were getting.
And so we, the role of the section expanded somewhat because at present, you know, from the original evidence reception section, now we have a Research Unit within the section. So, the, the section, the, the, the part of the section that receives the evidence is now just the unit and we call that the Documents Control Unit. And now we have the Research Unit. The Research Unit basically takes care of research requests from attorneys and we also provide services to foreign investigations.
Who, we have different jurisdictions around the world where some of the participants or some of the authors of the 1994 genocide have sought refuge. There they’re asking for asylum and sometimes – or they’re resident and they’ve been identified and they want to – the states where they are resident might want to initiate proceedings against them, or might want just to be sure that they’re not involved in the genocide before making decisions on their asylum status. So we’ve, we service foreign investigations as well.
Then we have a, we have also the Technology Unit. The Technology Unit basically supports all of the Office of the Prosecutor in, in terms of, you know, you know, whether it is just for end user requests or for something more systematic. To service a particular line of research, we have a technology unit that takes care of that.
We, we used to have the Research Analy-, Analysis on Special Projects Unit. That we have now changed because the mandate of the institution has changed somewhat so what we’ve done is to merge the Research Unit and the Analysis Unit, you know, because that’s, there’s that unit that used to take care of trial support work. We, we call it the Trial Support Unit.
They supported attorneys in court. You know they are wired to – you know the attorneys might ask, “Can you start to prepare the originals of this document?” and they would make sure that they do that.
And then they have language assistants at their disposal. In other words in court, if somebody was going to testify in Kinyarwanda and they wanted someone there to be sure that the translation is – that the nuance in the translation is, is what is intended by the witness, we would send people to court to, to assist the process. But whether they need a search made or for a particular thing in court they would refer to this unit.
So what we’ve done is to put the trial support unit together with the research unit so that they – since we couldn’t expand as we would like to expand, but we needed to create an archiving unit that would be responsible for, for you know . . .
Because now at this time of the mandate we needed to find a balance between long term objectives and the short term imperatives of running around supporting trials, supporting foreign jurisdictions. So we created a more stable unit just to take care of questions related to archiving. So we still have technically four units but mandate has been changed slightly, yes.
LPN: And that, that mandate change came from whom?