The official opening of the new premises of the Arusha Branch of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (“MICT” or “Mechanism”) was marked by a ceremony held on Friday, 25 November 2016, in Arusha, presided over by H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who delivered the keynote speech. The ceremony brought together over 300 attendees, including Government representatives from the United Republic of Tanzania, representatives of the international community and the United Nations, judges and staff of the MICT, and the media. The unveiling of the plaque at the new premises marked the official opening of the new home of the Mechanism in Arusha at the Lakilaki area at the outskirts of Arusha.
During his remarks commencing the opening ceremony, Judge Theodor Meron, President of the MICT, acknowledged the indispensable role the Government of Tanzania played in making the new MICT premises a reality. President Meron also underscored the role of the MICT in Africa, noting that: “With the Mechanism rooted firmly here, in mandate, culture, and context, it is not too much to say that this is an African court, and that in carrying out the vital mandate that it has been given, the Mechanism will serve, first and foremost, the people of this region of the world.”
Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, delivered a message on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. In that message, the Secretary-General observed that: “The Mechanism and the inauguration of these premises reinforce our shared resolve that those whose deeds defy the conscience of humankind will not go unpunished, and that the rule of law will prevail for everyone, everywhere.” In addition, Mr. Serpa Soares gave remarks in his own capacity.
H.E. Augustine P. Mahiga, the Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, delivered remarks and introduced Vice President Hassan. Mr. Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the MICT and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”), and Mr. John Hocking, Registrar of the MICT and the ICTY, also addressed those in attendance.
Recalling that all victims share the same desire “to see those responsible for the crimes against them brought to justice”, Prosecutor Brammertz highlighted that “the opening of the new MICT facility here, in Arusha, the African city of justice, is an important opportunity to promote and support accountability for international crimes more broadly”. Noting that his Office is already working to support its African partners in their fight for justice, Prosecutor Brammertz suggested “this new facility can therefore be a place for education” to “teach future generations the dangers of genocide ideology” so they can “firmly reject genocide denial at all times and in all places.”
The three buildings of the new premises – the courtroom, the archives and the office building – have been designed to serve the specialised functions of the Mechanism, which include the completion of remaining judicial work, archives management, witness protection, supervision of enforcement of sentences, and assistance to national jurisdictions.
Addressing the audience, Registrar Hocking stated that “on our official documents I am the owner of this project. But truly, the success of this project lies in its many owners. Together we built a building. Together we built a new institution. Together we built partnerships in East Africa and beyond. Pamoja tuendelee kujenga tumaini.”
The Mechanism is the first of a number of international and regional justice-related institutions that will move to the Lakilaki area.
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The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) was established by UN Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010) to complete the remaining work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia after the completion of their respective mandates. The Mechanism has two branches, one in Arusha, Tanzania, and one in The Hague, Netherlands.