Thursday, July 5, 2012

07/05 - The ICTR and another village visit

This morning was another exercise in patience with the "African time" concept.  We were scheduled to be presenting to a group out in one of the outlying villages at 9:30.  We met our driver around 8:45 and went to our supervising attorney's offices.  We sat in the van until almost 10:00 waiting on him to show up.  We got to the village around 10:30 or so.  Even being an hour late, they weren't ready.  They hadn't even set up the benches in the room where we were to speak.  Finally at 11:15 or 11:30, we started anyway.
Me :-) Giving today's presentation

Starting the will drafting process

Someone's animals outside the meeting place today
As you can see, I gave the presentation today.  Adjusting to speaking through a translator was interesting but after doing a few presentations now, it has gotten easier.  The first time, I went off on a tangent with an example and was rattling off information for probably 60 seconds to curious stares before the translator politely interrupted me to let me know, she had to catch up.  However, today went very smoothly.  We ended up having another very successful will drafting day.  We are almost up to 100 wills total in less than 3 weeks of presentations.  We did not know what to expect when we came, but this number has exceeded even the high end targets of 50 by almost double.  I think I mentioned before but TAWLA did a campaign here for a little less than a year and was able to get 50 wills total.  
Devotha and I
The wills continue to be interesting to me.  I am learning a little more of the language.  We have done wills across the spectrum from wealthier locals to younger women and villagers who literally have the clothes and perhaps a couple of chickens they want to put in their will.  One of the things that made me think today was a man who wanted to leave some things to his two sons who were 9 and 11.  When I asked who he wanted to appoint as their guardian if something should happen to take care of them and the property until they were 18 or "old enough", he told me very directly that they were old enough to take care of themselves already.  The number of young children here who are orphans or even heads of household in the rural areas is pretty incredible.  The HIV/AIDS crisis here is partially to blame, but its just a tough life in general and a lot of people die young.  The average life expectancy for males at birth is around 51 or 52.  Women is a couple of years higher.  This leaves a lot of children to fend for themselves and I have seen a number of kids who couldn't be more than 10 or 12, guiding small herds of goats and cows down the sides of the road outside of town when we are on our way to or from our work.  

We spent the afternoon meeting with Hassan Bubacar Jallow, the lead prosecutor for the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda).  They are based here in Arusha.  Basically, the ICTR is a United Nations Tribunal that was created to prosecute individuals responsible for the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which more than 1,000,000 people were killed.  The goal is that the organization will have concluded their work by 2014, twenty years after the incident.  The trials are complete at this point, but they are still dealing with some appeals.  Jallow was a very interesting man.  He shared with us that there are really only three examples (Nuremburg, ICTY (similar body but created for Yugoslavia), and the ICTR) of this type of jurisprudence to date, where leaders are being held accountable by an international body.  The hope is that not only will leaders be held accountable, but in the future, sovereign leaders will think twice before taking actions which could expose them to international prosecution.  We had a great meeting with Jallow and 3 of his staff attorneys in the office. They were very welcoming.

Group photo with Jallow and the ICTR staff

Our meeting with the ambassador for tomorrow night got cancelled, so we actually have a day tomorrow to do research and pack for our trip to Zanzibar on Sunday.  I did get an email this evening though from a local group here in Arusha who heard of the research I was doing from one of the people we have met and wants to meet with me tomorrow before we leave.  That network here is deeply underground for obvious reasons so I am happy to have been accepted based on some of the new friends and professional colleagues I have made here in Africa.  

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