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Cablegate: Sierra Leone Convicts Arrive

VZCZCXRO7711
PP RUEHGI RUEHRN
DE RUEHLGB #0716 3071730
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031730Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6395
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN 0032
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP 0092
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0299

UNCLAS KIGALI 000716

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KJUS KCRM RW
SUBJECT: SIERRA LEONE CONVICTS ARRIVE

REF: FREETOWN 348 (NOTAL)

1.(SBU) SUMMARY: On November 1, eight convicts from the
Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) arrived at Mpanga
prison in southern Rwanda where they will serve their
sentences, ranging from 15 to 52 years, for crimes committed
during Sierra Leone's civil war. Their arrival brings renewed
energy to calls for International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR) convicts to serve their sentences in Rwanda.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The SCSL and the Government of Rwanda (GOR) in March
signed an agreement allowing SCSL convicts to serve their
prison terms in Rwanda for crimes committed during Sierra
Leone's civil war. The prisoners are some of the most
high-level leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)
rebel movement and perpetrators of war crimes and crimes
against humanity including rape, murder, conscription of
child soldiers, and taking of "bush brides."

3. (SBU) On October 16, DCM and Emboff accompanied
representatives from SCSL to Mpanga prison to assess prison
conditions and readiness for the prisoner transfer. The
special ward, which the GOR constructed with assistance from
the Dutch Embassy, can house 27 high-level prisoners. The
facility meets international standards for treatment of
prisoners convicted by international tribunals and includes
cable TV, internet access, self-contained cells, and a large
recreational area. During the visit, SCSL representatives
made several recommendations, including the addition of bars
to the airflow space above cell doors. One representative
commented that the convicts did not want to come to Rwanda,
and some had threatened suicide rather than leave Sierra
Leone.

4. (SBU) On October 31, Emboff met with a representative of
SCSL after a follow-up visit to the Mpanga prison. The
representative reported that the GOR had implemented all
recommendations from the previous visit and the ward was
ready to receive the transfers, commenting that it was better
than any facility in Sierra Leone. She said authorities in
Sierra Leone had thoroughly briefed the convicts on their
transfer to Rwanda, and that the prisoners, having had ample
time to say good-bye to their families, were now resigned to
the decision. On October 31, SCSL chartered a MONUC flight to
transport the eight convicts, 16 escorts, and one supervisor
to Kigali. The plane landed around 11pm and authorities
transferred the prisoners to Mpanga on November 1 after
spending the night in the central prison. Two SCSL
representatives will remain in Mpanga for one week to ensure
a smooth transfer (Comment: Rwandan prison guards, used to
dealing with relatively docile Rwandan prisoners, may have
difficulty managing the Sierr
a Leonean prisoners, who are reported to be less responsive
to authority. End Comment.)

5. (SBU) SCSL representatives plan to make a follow-up visit
to Mpanga in three months, and possibly again in six months.
With the SCSL winding down, there have been discussions
around establishing a small secretariat based in The Hague to
deal with any residual issues and possibly to make regular
reports.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The speed at which the GOR implemented the
SCSL's recommendations reflects its own desire to have the
ICTR as well as other countries transfer to Rwanda
individuals convicted or suspected of involvement in the 1994
genocide. END COMMENT.
SYMINGTON

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