On the sidelines of the African Union summit, officials from the United Nations tribunal prosecuting key suspects in Rwanda's 1994 genocide are seeking help from the organization and its member states.
The prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, tells VOA he and another official are urging African governments to work with the tribunal to bring perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide to justice.
"We have 15 so far indicted fugitives who are located in various parts of the continent, and a substantial number of them are in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]," he said. "We are continuing with the efforts to talk to the African governments to try and help us with their arrest and their transfer to the tribunal."
Mr. Jallow says the tribunal does not have the power to arrest genocide suspects, so it must rely on the enforcement powers of the countries in which the suspects are hiding.
The issue of genocide suspects hiding outside Rwanda is a particularly sensitive one between Rwanda and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda sent troops into Congo twice, in 1996 and 1998, to hunt down Hutu extremists involved in the genocide, in which up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
The two countries signed a peace deal in 2002 that, among other things, would end Kinshasha's support of the Hutu rebels.
But Rwanda has accused Congo of violating the agreement, claiming that in April, Hutu rebels based in eastern Congo attacked Rwanda on three occasions. In turn, Congo has denied harboring or otherwise supporting the Hutu rebels, saying that Rwanda is using that as an excuse to invade Congo.
Mr. Jallow says the tribunal's presence at the AU summit is timely, given the AU's focus on peace, stability, and good governance.
"We are hoping that one of the byproducts of the work of the tribunal would be to effect reconciliation in Rwanda," he said, "but going beyond that, also, to send a message to the leadership of the rest of the continent that people will be held accountable for these sorts of activities, whether through the U.N. mechanism or through perhaps an African regional mechanism, and also try and then engage the African leadership also in trying to prevent the occurrence of these ethnic conflicts or political conflicts."
Mr. Jallow says he is also at the AU summit to urge member states to pay their contributions to the tribunal. Last week, the tribunal announced that the delay of payments from about 140 U.N. member countries has put the court into what it called a serious financial situation.
The tribunal said $212 million were pledged for 2004 and 2005, but less than a quarter of that has actually been paid.
Mr. Jallow says he is also talking to the AU about setting up what he calls a legacy program that would involve the creation of tribunal archives to be made available to the public for educational purposes.