Nationality

Cameroon

Education

Juris Doctor, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Master of Arts in Translation, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages/Certificate in Education, Keele University, Staffordshire, United Kingdom

Languages

English, French, Russian, Bakweri, Bimbia

The United Nations is the only place where I can put my skills as a translator, political scientist and international lawyer to the service of humanity. Since 2005, I have worked in Tanzania for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, created by the Security Council following the 1994 genocide. While its goals are to prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law, and to contribute to the process of national reconciliation, to me, the work of the Tribunal is in the interest of all mankind.

By coincidence, my first experience with the United Nations was during the genocide in Rwanda, when - as part of my doctoral dissertation research - I spent a year in New York as Political Secretary for the Organization of African Unity - now called the African Union. I coordinated the diplomatic activities of 53 African Ambassadors to the United Nations, and participated in high-level meetings.

After obtaining my Ph.D., my career included working as a freelance translator, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations, and as an Attorney-Editor in a legal research corporation. My ambition, however, was always to return to the United Nations. I was motivated by the ideals enshrined in the Charter of the Organization, and the desire to leave the world a better place than it was before I came along; I can make this kind of impact at the ICTR.

The Tribunal consists of three organs: the Trial and Appeals Chambers, comprised of the judges; the Office of the Prosecutor, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting those suspected of involvement in the genocide; and the Registry which is in charge of providing overall judicial and administrative support to the Chambers and the Prosecutor. ICTR’s work should be completed by the end of 2012, unless extensions are needed.

I began as an Associate Legal Officer in the Chambers Support Section, where I often worked in the courtroom, an arms-length away from witnesses testifying about what terrible things were done to them, or what they did to others. I have never gotten used to these disturbing testimonies, but I had to get beyond my emotions and look at the larger picture: these crimes cannot be left unpunished, and we must encourage people to talk about them in order to seek the truth and derive the relevant lessons. Many suspects are top-ranking government officials; by putting them on trial, we are making other world leaders aware that if they encourage these kinds of acts, they too will be held accountable.

I later managed the Legal Aid Programme of the Registry’s Defence Counsel and Detention Management Section, ensuring that suspects and accused persons were afforded adequate legal representation. The presumption of innocence is vital to the integrity of the process, and it is necessary for every suspect or accused person to be given sufficient time and facilities to defend himself or herself - only then can the international community be satisfied that justice has been done.

Now I am a Legal Officer for the Chambers Support Section. My many roles include coordinating the work of a team of Legal Officers, researchers and jurists in the drafting of court orders and other judicial documents. I also advise judges, and research key legal issues, such as violations of the Geneva Conventions, and complicity in genocide.

It is a difficult process to arrive at the truth of what happened in Rwanda, yet I enjoy the intellectual challenges. Every evening, I look forward to returning to work the next day, and this is also due to my talented and dedicated colleagues, some of whom say they would do their jobs without pay because it is such a good cause. In seeking justice, we are trying to set an example so that genocide does not happen again.

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