Press Releases

    SG/SM/7794
    8 May 2001

    SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES PROFOUND SADNESS AT
    DEATH OF JUDGE LAITY KAMA, FIRST PRESIDENT
    OF RWANDA CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL

    NEW YORK, 7 May (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

    The Secretary-General learned with profound sadness of the death last night of Judge Laity Kama (Senegal), the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Judge Kama served as President from 1995 to 1999, and most recently Presiding Judge of the Tribunal's second Trial Chamber.

    Judge Kama was an eminent jurist who played a key role in the development of the judicial work of the Rwanda Tribunal. He has made historic contributions to international humanitarian law as former presiding judge of the Tribunal's first Trial Chamber that rendered judgements in the Akayesu case and the Kambanda case in 1998. It will be recalled that the Akayesu case was the first ever judgement for the crime of genocide by an international court and was also the first ever judgement to convict an accused person of rape as a crime against humanity. Judge Kama's verdict in the Kambanda case (which involved the former Prime Minister of Rwanda) was the first ever conviction of a head of government for genocide.

    Beyond his judicial achievements, Judge Kama was a leader who displayed great wisdom and was a founding father to the institutional development of the Rwanda Tribunal. The Secretary-General met with him on several occasions in his capacity as President of the Tribunal and was always impressed by his vision, his commitment to work of the Tribunal and to human rights in general. Judge Kama was also a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

    Judge Kama's death is a great loss for the United Nations, and the Secretary-General hopes that his family will find the strength to bear his passing.

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