Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Outsourcing International Criminal Justice: Norway Fills in for Rwanda Tribunal

Norway has agreed to try a suspect accused of participating in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Norway will try the Rwandan Hutu Michel Bagaragaza in its own courts, accepting a request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (the ICTR), to take over for the backlogged court. Bagaragaza, a former tea industry leader, is accused of organizing his employees to massacre Tutsis.

I haven't been following the ICTR, but it is apparently seriously backlogged and it must finish up by 2008. So this move makes some practical sense. Choosing Norway makes somewhat less sense. The obvious place to try Mr. Bagaragaza is Rwanda, but the ICTR won't turn him over unless Rwanda pledges not to impose the death penalty. I applaud the high principles of the ICTR, but the maximum under Norwegian law is only 21 years. That seems way too low for someone convicted of mass genocide.