Voices of Victims Being Heard as International Criminal Tribunals Race to Meet Deadlines, Transfer Tasks, Top Officials Tell Security Council
7192nd Meeting (AM)
Voices of Victims Being Heard as International Criminal Tribunals Race to Meet
Deadlines, Transfer Tasks, Top Officials Tell Security Council
Briefing the Security Council on the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, including the transfer of cases to the Residual Mechanism, judges and prosecutors alike noted progress but stressed the need for continued support, while speakers in debate generally agreed that the voices of victims were being heard and historical records were being preserved.
Although that work was not easy or cost-free, it was essential, said Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and of the International Residual Mechanism for the Criminal Tribunals, as he briefed the Council. The Residential Mechanism, established to continue the Tribunals’ work after their closure, was providing vital services to victims and witnesses alike, and proceeding with critical judicial work. It was thus crucial for all Member States to intensify cooperation towards the arrest and surrender of the remaining fugitives so that accountability could “have meaning”.
Remaining trials in the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal were continuing in line with previous forecasts for judgement delivery, although that work was expected to continue past the end of the year, he said. While several judgements had been issued and more were expected in the coming months, the Tribunal would have difficulty completing the three remaining appeals cases by year’s end. Nonetheless, it was actively downsizing its operations and working diligently to complete its final cases, he said, adding that the successful conclusion entrusted to both institutions was of tremendous importance.
Vagn Joensen, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, noted that the completion of work was on schedule; however, the number of both acquitted and convicted released persons in Arusha had increased. Specifically, the issue of relocating the 12 individuals currently residing there had repeatedly been brought to the Council’s attention, as that posed a serious challenge to the credibility of international criminal justice enforcement. Despite several Council resolutions calling for assistance in that regard, the Tribunal’s attempts at relocation had been unsuccessful. Moreover, with the passage of time, it was less likely that those individuals would be relocated before the Tribunal closed. As such, he once again called for the Council’s “urgent assistance”.
Updating the situation of reparations for victims of the genocide, he told Council members that his Office, in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration, had secured funding through a generous donation from the Government of Finland to assess how to advance that process. Rwanda’s achievements over the past two decades were “quite impressive” and a reflection of the nation’s vigorous efforts to rebuild the justice system. It was a testament to Rwanda’s dedication to accountability that the Tribunal was drawing to its close. Indeed, as Rwanda and other countries held perpetrators accountable, he said, the Tribunal’s jurisprudential legacy would live on until “‘genocide is consigned, once and for all, to history’”, as the Secretary-General had said.
“We are now well and truly in the final phase of our work,” declared Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Not only had the prosecution finished presenting its evidence in all remaining trials, but the defence had closed in the Karadzic case and the parties were now preparing their final trial briefs and closing arguments for late August and September, respectively. The 2014 appeals judgements in the Sainovic and Dordevic cases had established broad and significant legal precedents for both the Tribunal and international criminal law. Additional cooperation protocols had been concluded between republics of the Former Yugoslavia on war crimes issues and information was being exchanged.
However, he said, when it came to implementing the National War Crimes Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the “picture is bleak”. Considerable delays in implementation had created a large backlog, and while 30 “complex cases” were on track for completion by the end of 2018, that was three years past the deadline. Nonetheless, as downsizing continued in line with the completion strategy, the Prosecutor’s Office remained firmly focused on the final trials and appeals, which were among the most important and complex in the Tribunal’s history. More broadly, he said that effective strategies for building national capacity would underpin a more coherent and complete international justice system.
Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, acknowledged the recent twentieth anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, emphasizing that the tragedy highlighted the continued need for effective measures to prevent mass atrocities. The Rwanda Tribunal, among its efforts, had indicted 93 leading figures, of whom 61 had been convicted for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Another 14 had been acquitted at trial or on appeal, and two indictments had been withdrawn prior to trial. Despite that, much remained to be done as the Tribunal transferred its work to the Mechanism, in particular, the cooperation of Member States in arresting the nine remaining fugitives and transferring them to the appropriate jurisdiction for trial.
The Residual Mechanism, he reported, had completed recruitment of core staff in both Arusha and The Hague, and the work of the two branches and inter-branch coordination was also progressing well. The Hague Branch was operating at full capacity, but because of an unforeseen increase in requests for assistance, a temporary position had to be created. Specifically, the Branch had responded to 121 requests for assistance, primarily from prosecutors from the former Yugoslavia, and had worked closely with the liaison prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. In addition, a memorandum of understanding was being negotiated with respect to State prosecutors in the region.
The representative of Rwanda said he was extremely troubled by the dangerous trend of the Rwanda Tribunal of acquitting military commanders and cabinet members, which had been condemned strongly in the trial chamber. Asking if the Council would have accepted Hitler’s top officials being acquitted in Nuremberg, he said that not only had individuals been acquitted by the Rwanda Tribunal, mainly by the appeals chamber, but to add insult to injury, the Tribunal had also granted a number of early releases for individuals sentenced for genocide.
Croatia’s representative said that while the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal had not prevented further war crimes, it had succeeded in bringing to justice some of the perpetrators and providing a platform for the victims. Importantly, historical records were established, he said, adding that that was no small achievement. Given his country’s own difficult experience, it viewed accountability as an imperative for the most serious international law crimes still being committed in ongoing conflicts, especially in Syria. With that, he expressed support for its referral to the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that while continuing to work with the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, his country was strengthening its justice system at both state and local levels. As of February 2014, the national Prosecutor’s office had 352 war crimes cases against 3,309 individuals, with conclusions on them expected by 2018. He called for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s archives to be located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which held a symbolic meaning that would serve future generations. “The legacy of the ICTY does not belong only to the concerned countries,” he said, “but to all humanity as a reminder.”
Serbia’s speaker highlighted examples of regional cooperation in terms of information and evidence with respect to war crimes cases and other international law breaches. Trying war crimes within national jurisdictions was paramount, and a growing number of such cases were with Serbia’s domestic courts. However, no progress had been made regarding the initiative to allow those convicted in The Hague Tribunal to serve their sentence in the appropriate States in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Also speaking in the debate were representatives of Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria, Luxembourg, France, China, United Kingdom, United States, Argentina, Republic of Korea, Australia, Jordan, Chad and the Russian Federation.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:05 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hold its semi-annual debate on the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals. Before members were letters addressed to the President of the Council from the following: the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document S/2014/343), dated 15 May 2014; President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document S/2014/350), dated 16 May 2014; and from the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document S/2014/351), dated 16 May 2014.
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said that since his last report, the Mechanism continued to provide vital services to victims and witnesses, among them, supervising the enforcement of sentences across two continents and addressing a wide range of requests for assistance from national jurisdictions. The judicial work included addressing allegations of false testimony, requests for review and issues of witness protection measures. A hearing on a first appeal would be conducted soon.
The Mechanism’s archives section, he went on to say, was also working closely with both Tribunals’ staff on the preparation and transfer of records, and progress was being made in establishing the Mechanism’s permanent premises in Arusha. He underscored the need for all Member States to intensify cooperation and assistance towards the arrest and surrender of all remaining fugitives, if the international community’s commitment to ensuring accountability was to have meaning.
Turning to the Tribunal’s remaining trials, he said that three of them — the late-arrested accused, Hadzic, Karadzic and Mladic — were continuing in line with previous forecasts for judgement delivery, although the trials were expected to continue past 31 December. The fourth and final case, that of Vojislav Seselj was still at trial, owing to presentation of a sui generis situation. Judgements in two appeals had been issued and two more were expected by the end of the year. However, despite its efforts, the Tribunal would have difficulty completing the three remaining appeals cases by the end of the year. Nonetheless, it was actively working to downsize its operations, although several factors, many “beyond the scope of the case management process”, still challenged efforts to meet judgement delivery dates. He assured the Council that every effort was being made to ensure the nine remaining cases were concluded expeditiously, in line with all necessary procedural safeguards.
“Ensuring accountability for the worst of crimes and respect for the rule of law sometimes is not easy, and it certainly is not cost-free,” he stated. However, he stressed, it was essential. Twenty years ago, the Council had made a commitment to protect men, women and children and to preserve common values, and that commitment had led to creation of the Mechanism. The Tribunal was working diligently to complete its final cases, he said, adding that the successful conclusion entrusted to both institutions remained tremendously important.
VAGN JOENSEN, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said the court’s judicial workload remained on schedule. The Appeals Chamber had delivered two judgements and heard appeals in three cases since December 2013. Appellate proceedings had been conducted with respect to 50 persons, and the Chamber was expected to render a judgement on the sole remaining accused in the Ndindiliyimana et al. or Military II case in June. Three other appeal judgements were projected to be delivered in September, which left only the Nyiramasuhuko et al. or Butare case, concerning six persons, in which the appeal would be heard before the end of the year. However, the remaining judgement would not be rendered before the end of July 2015, he said. Additional resources had helped to prevent additional delays in the complex appeal judgement of that case.
Noting that the number of both acquitted and convicted released persons in Arusha had increased, he said the relocation of the 12 individuals currently residing there had repeatedly been brought to the Security Council’s attention. The issue posed a serious challenge to the credibility of international criminal justice enforcement. Despite several Council resolutions calling for Member States’ assistance, the Tribunal’s attempts to relocate remaining accused persons had been unsuccessful. Unfortunately, as time passed without positive results, it became less likely that those individuals would be relocated before the Tribunal closed. As such, it must once again call for the Council’s “urgent assistance”.
He went on to update members on the progress of reparations for victims of the genocide, announcing that his Office, in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had secured funding through a generous donation from the Government of Finland to assess how to advance that process. He also provided an update on the transition to the Mechanism, noting that all Tribunal cases referred to national jurisdictions had become its responsibility. However, Tribunal staff continued to assist as interim monitors pending final arrangements with an international organization to monitor all its referred cases. After much work, additional records would be ready for transfer, but those still in active use, including for the Butare case, would remain the Tribunal’s responsibility, he said, noting that transfer of the court’s records would be completed before its closure.
In closing, he noted that Rwanda had commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide. While its victims had been overwhelmingly Tutsi, Twa, moderate Hutu and others had suffered the same tragic fate, and efforts to honour all victims were therefore fitting. Rwanda’s achievements over the past two decades, including its creation of a stable and functioning Government committed to national reconciliation and strengthened rule of law, were “quite impressive”, reflecting the nation’s vigorous efforts to rebuild the justice system. It was a testament to Rwanda’s dedication to accountability that the Tribunal was drawing near to its close, he said, adding that, as Rwanda and other countries held the perpetrators of international crimes accountable, the Tribunal’s jurisprudential legacy would live on until “‘genocide is consigned, once and for all, to history’”, in the words of the Secretary-General.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that since he had last reported in December 2013, the prosecution had finished presenting its evidence in all remaining trials, declaring, “We are now well and truly in the final phase of our work.” The defence had closed in the Karadzic case and the parties were now preparing their final trial briefs and closing arguments for late August and September, respectively. Following the close of both the Mladic and Hadzic cases, the respective Trial Chambers had denied defence motions for acquittal. The Hadzic defence was scheduled to begin on 3 July, while the trial judgement in the Sesetj case was pending. The Appeals Division, he added, was preoccupied with the Popovic, Stanisic, Simatovic, Tolimir and Zupijanin cases.
He went on to say that the 2014 appeals judgements in the Sainovic and Dordevic cases had established broad and significant legal precedents for both the Tribunal and international criminal law. They were important because in both cases, the Appeals Chamber had corrected trial-level errors which had led to unduly restrictive approaches in assessing the ability of the accused to foresee crimes of sexual violence. It had also confirmed that “specific direction” was not a requirement of aiding and abetting, thereby bringing Tribunal case law back into line with customary international law. He noted as well that additional cooperation protocols had been concluded between republics of the former Yugoslavia on war crimes issues and information was being exchanged. However, when it came to implementing the National War Crimes Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the “picture is bleak”. Considerable delays in implementing the Strategy had created a large backlog of remaining cases, and while 30 “complex cases” were on track for completion by the end of 2018, that would be three years after the deadline, he said.
Many less complex cases were still awaiting investigation, and serious action was required if the large caseload was to be completed by the deadline, he continued, noting that the delays were not due solely to insufficient resources. There was little commitment on the part of by the responsible institutions to prioritize war crimes cases, he said, welcoming in that connection the European Union-funded Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance. He also recognized the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Prosecutor’s Office was finalizing the first edition of a paper on best practices and lessons learned in the investigation and prosecution of sexual-violence crimes because their number had been “shockingly high” during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and many remained unaddressed. He said he would make available the experience of the Prosecutor’s Office over the past 21 years in that regard. Additionally, it had been asked to help post-conflict accountability processes in the Middle East, Africa and South America. In conclusion, he said that as downsizing continued in line with the completion strategy, the Prosecutor’s Office remained firmly focused on the final trials and appeals, which were among the most important and complex in the Tribunal’s history. More broadly, he said that effective strategies for building national capacity would underpin a more coherent and complete international justice system.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals noted that his report was being presented shortly after the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsis — a tragedy that highlighted the continued need for effective measures to prevent mass atrocities and for timely and effective steps by the international community to protect communities under such threats. He noted the Rwanda Tribunal had indicted 93 leading figures, of whom 61 had been convicted for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Another 14 had been acquitted at trial or on appeal, and two indictments had been withdrawn prior to trial. Three accused had died prior to or during trial, and 10 cases had been referred to national jurisdictions. Of those, six accused remained at large, and three cases were due to be tried at the Mechanism.
Preparing for the imminent closure of the Rwanda Tribunal and the complete takeover of its functions by the Mechanism, he said that despite many achievements, much remained to be done. Member States needed to cooperate with and support the Mechanism and Rwanda needed to ensure the nine remaining fugitives were arrested and transferred to the appropriate jurisdiction for trial. The many people suspected of involvement in the genocide who could not be indicted by the Tribunal should be extradited to Rwanda for trial or prosecuted by the States where they resided. Protection was needed for witnesses to ensure the process of justice was not subverted. As well, those who had been acquitted or had finished servicing sentences needed resettling assistance. Only Member States could provide solutions to those matters, he added.
Giving an overview of the work at hand, he said that completion of the oral arguments on appeal in the Ildephonse Nizeyimana and the Callixte Nzabonimana cases had occurred on 28 and 29 April. The remaining appellate workload continued to be reduced. The Appeals Chamber also had completed the hearing of oral arguments in the Edouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse appeals in February, at which time it had delivered judgements against three accused in the Ndindiliyimana et al. appeal. Prior to that, on 16 December 2013, a judgement had been rendered in the Gregoire Ndahimana case. Judgement was now being awaited in the Augustin Bizimungu case; that appeal had been “severed” from the other Military II accused, as well as in the Nizeyimana and Nzabonimana cases. Oral argument in the Tribunal’s last appeal — the six accused in the Butare case — had not been scheduled. However, staff was actively litigating a large number of post-trial motions and were preparing for final submission in that case.
Summarizing the activities of the Residual Mechanism, he said that recruitment of core staff in both Arusha and The Hague had been completed, and the work of the two branches and inter-branch coordination was progressing well. In efforts to arrest three fugitives, Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana, he had visited several countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Great Lakes region, holding high-level meetings with Government ministers, who had assured cooperation with the Mechanism.
Turning to the Hague Branch, he noted that the Mechanism was operating at full capacity, and a briefing of a request for review of the judgement against Milan Lukic had been completed. That Branch also had responded to nine applications for variation of protective measures from national judicial authorities in connection with more than 30 witnesses of the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal. Because of an unforeseen increase in the number of requests for assistance, a temporary position had to be created. The Branch had responded to 121 requests for assistance, primarily from prosecutors from the former Yugoslavia and had worked closely with the liaison prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. In addition, a memorandum of understanding was being negotiated with respect to State prosecutors in the region.
The Rwanda Tribunal remained on track for a timely completion, he said, calling in that regard for voluntary contributions from Member States to assist two critical components of its legacy programme. The seventh Colloquium of International Prosecutors, which would seek to identify challenges and prospects for national prosecution of international crimes, would be complemented by an international symposium on the contribution of the Rwanda Tribunal, and he urged support to ensure those events were held. Concluding, he stressed that the biggest challenge, not only for the Tribunal but for international justice and accountability, was the tracking and arresting of the few outstanding fugitives slated for trial in Arusha and in Rwanda.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET ( Chile) said both Tribunals had made a valuable contribution to combating impunity and further developing international law. Likewise, the Residual Mechanism was proving its role in holding perpetrators accountable. He supported increased cooperation with the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal to permit the body to proceed in its efforts. Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, he urged all States to redouble efforts to assist the body in its quest to apprehend indicted fugitives, since the global justice system depended on the international community’s cooperation.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) said both Tribunals had clearly established that sexual violence was an act of war and that genocide had been committed in both countries. He appreciated the medical and psychological services that were being provided to assist victims and address their concerns, such as HIV/AIDS and rape. Yet, in a human undertaking such as judicial processes, all people indicted would not necessarily be convicted and sentenced. He was extremely troubled by the dangerous trend of the Rwanda Tribunal of acquitting military commanders and cabinet members, which had been condemned strongly in the trial chamber.
Turning to Council members, he asked if anyone could accept that Joachim von Ribbentrop, Adolf Hitler’s foreign affairs minister, or Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, were acquitted in Nuremberg. Individuals had been acquitted by the Rwanda Tribunal, mainly by the appeals chamber and, to add insult to injury, the Tribunal had also granted a number of early releases for individuals sentenced for genocide. He was concerned about repetitive delays in cases referred by the Tribunal to France, calling on French authorities to expedite the investigations. He was also concerned about the nine remaining fugitives, and voiced hope that as it marked its twentieth anniversary, it would live up to the Council’s expectations.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ ( Lithuania) said that the scale and horrendous character of mass atrocities committed during the last few decades had clearly demonstrated the need for a permanent court of justice to end impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern where justice could not or would not be ensured. Both Tribunals had played a crucial role and contributed considerably to the creation of the International Criminal Court. As their work neared completion, it was more important than ever for the Council to fulfil its responsibility in putting an end to impunity and assuring justice and accountability. Political support to the International Criminal Court was essential to enable it to deliver on the expectations of the numerous victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, for whom it might be the only recourse to justice.
KAYODE LARO ( Nigeria) agreed with previous speakers that both Tribunals had developed the international legal system and contributed to strengthened efforts to fighting impunity. The Council had acknowledged that the Rwanda Tribunal had promoted peace and reconciliation in that country, as Member States had intensified cooperation to bring to trial wanted fugitives. Hopefully, he said, that had sent a clear message that the perpetrators of war crimes had no place to hide. The smooth handover of functions to the Residual Mechanism was proof of the success of the process, and he called on the Rwanda Tribunal to continue its efforts to transfer records. However, he had a number of concerns, among them, outstanding arrests, which could prevent the Tribunal from meeting its transition deadlines.
OLIVIER MAES ( Luxembourg) said the Tribunals had conducted remarkable work in developing international jurisprudence, rendering justice, apprehending fugitives and ruling on individuals found guilty of acts of genocide and grave human rights violations. He applauded measures taken to address delays at the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal. While he was pleased that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia had continued to cooperate, the delays with regard to addressing war crimes and sexual violence were troubling. The Rwanda Tribunal played a key role in delivering judgements, he said, but the apprehension of three fugitives must remain a priority. Given that the creation of the Tribunals reflected the Security Council’s commitment to ending impunity, he said current situations, including in Syria, demonstrated that atrocities remained a major challenge requiring the attention of the international community.
ALEXIS LAMEK ( France), thanking the Tribunals for contributing to ending impunity, said that political rhetoric did not have a place in international law. Also, trials of intermediate criminals must have regional cooperation and witnesses’ rights should be respected, as well. Resolution 2150 (2014) commemorating the Rwanda genocide had put justice at the centre in that region and, indeed, international justice was being complemented by the Great Lakes Region’s Framework aimed at ending decades of instability and mistrust. Yet, that population was still experiencing waves of large-scale violence, including sexual violence. The work of justice was the work of the entire international community, he stressed, adding that the trial of Pascal Simbikangwa in France was being closely followed by French authorities. He called for the remaining fugitives to be brought before the Mechanism, which must be given the appropriate resources to fulfil its tasks. The Tribunals had anchored the United Nations in the era of accountability, and he deeply regretted that two States “sitting at this table” had vetoed referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court.
LI YONGSHENG ( China), commending progress made in completion of the Tribunals’ mandates, nevertheless expressed concern at their extended timetables. Although some elements had been beyond the scope of the Tribunals, the Security Council should conduct consultations to find appropriate solutions to those challenges. The smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism was commendable, he said, stressing that the relevant countries’ cooperation was crucial for the success of the Tribunals and the Mechanism. Acquitted individuals and those finished serving their sentences should be assisted in relocating. Before the final “wrapping up” of the Tribunals, a final summary would be beneficial, offering many lessons learned and an accounting of achievements in judicial justice and international peace and security.
PAUL MCKELL ( United Kingdom) underscored the importance of regional cooperation for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, in order that justice was served. Although the Tribunal’s efforts to minimize delays were commendable, the slow progress, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was troubling, and he thus urged that the matter be given top priority. Additional staff had been recruited to that end and the European Union had given €15.5 million to build capacity. He said the progress made by Rwanda since the genocide was “truly astonishing”, while urging that those most responsible be held accountable. Bringing the nine fugitives to justice required the cooperation of all States. The work of both Tribunals on sexual violence was crucial, he said, and in that regard, the United Kingdom would be hosting the biggest conference on the issue in June in an attempt “to shatter the culture of impunity once and for all”.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) noted that, as recent events had demonstrated, mass atrocities still posed a challenge to the international community. The Tribunals’ closure dates would depend on ongoing trials and appeals, and they required some flexibility in that regard. The completion of trials before the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal would help close the book on the worst crimes on European soil in decades. Acknowledging the Arusha Branch’s assumption of most of the prosecution and judicial responsibility, he urged all Member States to cooperate in bringing the nine fugitives to justice and added that the United States was still offering monetary awards towards that goal. He underscored that the Tribunals’ contribution to international justice and historical records would protect the truth from those in the future who might deny events. “They demonstrated that the world does not forget,” he emphasized.
SUSANA MYRTA RUIZ CERUTTI ( Argentina) hailed the manner in which work was being carried out in the transfer of cases, files and archives between the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism. However, she noted the challenges of retaining qualified staff, as well as obstacles that arose in judicial operations themselves. She called for the Council’s continued support of the Tribunals, as well as that of the General Assembly and Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). The international community should also continue to support the victims. She welcomed the memorandum of understanding concerning reparation for victims of the Rwanda genocide. It was “high time” the international community recognized progress made by the Tribunals through their doctrinal contribution to international and humanitarian law, and to the role of the international criminal justice system. There could be no lasting peace without justice. As the centrepiece of that system, the International Criminal Court required the commitment of all States and the United Nations.
OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) noted that 161 cases had been handled by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and 93 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, with some cases taking longer time to complete. Stressing the importance of a speedy completion of the Tribunals’ mandates, he called for the cooperation of all States, including in apprehending fugitives. The rich legacy of those justice bodies must be preserved for posterity to mark the fight against impunity and their contributions to it.
PHILIPPA KING ( Australia) said the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism were products of the Council’s firm conviction that perpetrators of massive crimes must be held accountable. The courts’ groundbreaking jurisprudence had included the recognition of sexual violence in armed conflicts. Welcoming the progress report on the completion of mandates, she supported their efforts and the increasing support of States in that regard. It was essential for the Tribunals to achieve the goals set by the Security Council in the effort to end impunity, she said, adding that lessons learned must be applied to other situations, such as the events under way in Syria, and the Council must live up to its responsibilities.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL HUSSEIN (Jordan) said it was a pity that the Security Council had barely spent any time to evaluate the jurisprudence emerging from the Tribunals to help identify a formula for sustainable peace. Instead, the Council focused on the bodies’ administrative affairs. Going forward, it should concentrate on how the courts’ work shaped the conscience of concerned communities. The jurisprudence and the establishment of fact and truth must be integrated into the communities in the relevant countries. In the case of the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, trials remained to be completed, and nine fugitives sought by the Rwanda Tribunal were yet to be apprehended. He called for the establishment of a robust archive to capture history and assist concerned countries, and said the United Nations’ leadership should think creatively about ways to address the staff retention issues raised by both tribunals.
AHMAT ALI ADOUM ( Chad) said the tribunals had established a new era of fighting impunity and injustice. Now, expectations for justice were higher in addressing mass atrocities. He stressed the need to address the current crises in Syria and elsewhere, including the atrocities currently being committed in Africa. He pointed to Sierra Leone as an example of a country that had overcome its challenges. With the Rwanda Tribunal set to conclude its work amid some outstanding cases, he questioned the role of the completion strategies. In closing, he said host countries must be found for convicted individuals and States must cooperate in apprehending the remaining fugitives.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV ( Russian Federation), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal had made a number of decisions that could call into question its legacy, including delays in proceedings. The Rwanda Tribunal had been unable to shorten the time frame of its cases, he said, while recognizing efforts by the East African States to address the location of host countries for indicted and acquitted individuals. The appropriate cases should be transferred to the Residual Mechanism, he said, stressing that any attempts made by the Tribunals at this stage to maintain pretexts for continuing their functions beyond 2014 would taint their legacy.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK ( Croatia) said lessons had already been learned about the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which had played an important part in establishing a judicial network for dealing with war crimes cases in the region and recognizing sexual violence as an act of war and torture. It was of utmost importance to end the culture of impunity and to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes, wherever they were committed.
“Because of our own difficult experience, we believe that accountability should be ensured for the most serious crimes under international law that are being committed in ongoing conflicts, especially in Syria,” he said, supporting the initiative to refer the situation in that country to the International Criminal Court. While the Tribunal had not prevented further war crimes, it had succeeded in bringing to justice some of the perpetrators. “Voices of victims are being heard and historical records established,” he said, adding that that was no small achievement.
DRAGANA ANĐELIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) emphasized the importance for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal to accomplish its completion strategy and transition to the Residual Mechanism. For its part, his country had continued to work with that body, and was strengthening the justice system at state and local levels. As of February 2014, the national Prosecutor’s office had 352 war crimes cases against 3,309 individuals, with conclusions on them expected by 2018.
Highlighting the achievements of both Tribunals, he said they had contributed to classifying sexual abuse as a crime against humanity, making it part of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. He also supported the bodies’ initiatives in support of the victims. Regarding the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s archives, his country had proposed that the information centre should be located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which held a symbolic meaning that would serve future generations, he said, expressing appreciation for States’ interest in the project. “The legacy of the ICTY does not belong only to the concerned countries,” he said, “but to all humanity as a reminder.”
MILAN MILANOVIĆ ( Serbia) said his country was determined to contribute to regional peace and reconciliation and regarded the quest and respect for justice as vitally important. Regional cooperation could be seen in sharing a total of 82 new pieces of information and evidence, and such cooperation was ongoing in 38 cases of war crimes and other criminal offences of international law. Trying war crimes within national jurisdictions was of paramount importance, he said, noting that a growing number of such cases were being tried in domestic courts in his country, which had benefited from support for strengthening national capacities.
He said his country also supported the initiative to allow those convicted in The Hague Tribunal to serve their sentence in the appropriate States in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Regrettably, no progress had been made on that initiative, with the question remaining in the hands of the Secretary-General and the Council on his recommendation, based on a 1993 text stating that enforcement of sentences should take place outside the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Turning to The Hague Branch of the Residual Mechanism, he said Serbia was satisfied with progress made to operationalize it over the past year. The international judicial system had a key role to play in prosecuting war crimes and it was duty-bound to make a contribution through full respect of international norms, human rights and the right to a fair hearing and defence.
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