Mechanism holds ceremony to handover the United Nations Detention Facility to the Government of Tanzania
The Registrar of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT or Mechanism), Abubacarr M. Tambadou, today officiated over a handover ceremony marking the closure of the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) and return of the grounds to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. The Registrar was joined by high-level officials from the Government of Tanzania, senior Mechanism officials and longtime stakeholders such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Guests and officials were welcomed by the UNDF’s Commanding Officer, Mr. Suraj Olarinde. The Registrar then gave remarks, thanking Tanzanian officials for their partnership over the past 27 years and noting the historical importance of this milestone in international criminal justice and the progress made in the fulfillment of the Mechanism’s mandate that the handover symbolises.
“Today, we complete what I consider to be a historical mission. The UNDF in Arusha, Tanzania, has been an instrumental component of the international justice system,” the Registrar said in his remarks. “The handover of the UNDF back to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania on 28 February 2023 will mark the official closure of the UNDF by the United Nations and will represent the closure of an important chapter of the Mechanism’s mandate.”
Following the Registrar’s remarks, the Hon Mr. Mzee Ramadhani Nyamka, Commissioner General of Prisons, addressed guests and officials.
Certificates were then presented to a group of approximately 30 Tanzanian Prison Officers who received training by the Mechanism from 20-22 February 2023 at the premises of the Arusha branch.
The ceremony concluded with the signing of the transfer documents by Registrar Tambadou and the Hon. Mzee Ramadhan Nyamka, Commissioner General of Prisons in Tanzania. A plaque expressing gratitude to the Government of Tanzania for its partnership in the use of the Detention Facility was then unveiled and will be displayed at the site of the former UNDF.
Following the ceremony, a photo session took place with officials from the Government of Tanzania and the Mechanism. The programme ended with a tour of the prison facility.
On 20 May 1996, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) commenced its use of the UNDF within the Tanzanian Prison compound based in Arusha, Tanzania. The UNDF was the first dedicated detention facility established and managed by the United Nations. On 31 December 2015, following the closure of the ICTR, the Mechanism took over responsibility for the functioning of the UNDF.
The UNDF housed its last detainees in December 2022. The UNDF facilities will be formally returned to the Government of Tanzania on 28 February 2023.