Delivering Judgments on Three Cases, Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Closer to Fulfilling Its Work, President Tells Security Council
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals — the judicial body that took over the remaining work of the two dedicated tribunals for war crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia — has delivered judgments on three cases on schedule, diminishing its active caseload and demonstrating its intention to complete its functions efficiently and effectively, its President told the Security Council today.
Carmel Agius updated the 15-member organ about the Mechanism’s work during the reporting period, which included delivering the appeal judgment on the Mladić case, as well as trial judgments in the Stanišić and Simatović case and the Nzabonimpa et al. contempt case. On its docket at present are appeal proceedings on the latter two cases — one of which, Nzabonimpa et al., is now called Fatuma et al. — as well as the trial against Felicien Kabuga, which is in the pretrial phase due to his health.
The Mechanism has largely implemented various provisions of Security Council resolution 2529 (2020) to strengthen its efficient and transparent management, he continued, adding that it will continue to actively engage in the evaluation of its methods, ahead of the Council’s next review in 2022.
He went on to highlight a “major breakthrough” in the situation relating to the nine acquitted or released persons living in a safe house in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, thanks to the “exemplary cooperation” of Niamey, which culminated in the signing of a milestone agreement through which Niger has accepted for relocation in its territory all nine persons acquitted or released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or the Mechanism. He reiterated his call on Belgrade to fulfil its international obligations by arresting and transferring Petar Jojić and Vjerica Radeta to the Mechanism.
Serge Brammertz, the Mechanism’s Prosecutor, described work undertaken by his office, including in connection with the Kabuga case, for which the trial team filed its pretrial brief and responded to additional litigation pertaining to seized assets. His office also completed two more trials during the reporting period: Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović were convicted for aiding and abetting murder, deportation, and persecution as crimes against humanity and murder as a war crime. In the Nzabonimpa et al. case, the four accused were convicted of contempt of court for efforts to interfere with the administration of justice by influencing witnesses in a failed effort to overturn the genocide conviction of Augustin Ngirabatware.
On the search for the remaining six fugitives indicted by ICTR, the most wanted of whom is Protais Mpiranya, he said the Mechanism is implementing analysis-driven investigations using advanced tools under the new leadership of its tracking team. However, the success of those efforts will depend on cooperation from Zimbabwe and South Africa. While his office expects full and effective cooperation from Harare, to which it undertook a successful official visit in November, it has faced immense challenges over the past three years in obtaining cooperation from South Africa, he said, citing the country’s failure to arrest Fulgence Kayishema.
Turning to the continued denial of crimes and glorification of war criminals, he noted that murals of Ratko Mladić in Belgrade and the publication of extremist Rwandan diaspora groups demonstrate that there are still those who deny and minimize the judicially established facts of genocide and war crimes, which prevents reconciliation, provokes hatred and destabilize peace and security, and condemns present and future generations to bear the burdens of the past.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members reiterated their support for the Mechanism, with many praising its achievements over the past year, despite myriad challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the death of a judge. Many speakers emphasized the need for Member States to fully cooperate with the Mechanism, with several raising concern about Serbia’s lack of cooperation.
The representative of the United States was among several speakers expressing concern over Serbia’s non-compliance regarding certain arrest warrants, calling on Belgrade to execute them without delay. On the apprehension of the remaining six Rwandan fugitives, he called on States that may be harbouring these individuals to turn them over, noting that the United States is offering a reward for information that leads to such individuals’ arrest or conviction.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Russian Federation described the work of the Mechanism as “a unique combination of bias and tardiness”, stating that it is systematically drawing out all trials and artificially extending its existence, although it was created as a temporary structure. Noting the Mechanism’s “financial appetite”, with more than $90 million spent on it in 2021 despite only one case is being heard at trial at present, he pointed out that national courts are cheaper and work better.
Niger’s delegate, President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the 15 November agreement between Niamey and the United Nations on the transfer of persons released or acquitted by ICTR or the Mechanism, and called on the Security Council, in coordination with the General Assembly, to allocate sufficient resources to enable the Mechanism to fulfil its mission.
The representative of Serbia called for a timely response to requests for early release submitted to the Mechanism by various citizens of his country and reiterated that his Government is ready to assume responsibility “for sentence serving of its citizens who were convicted by the Tribunal”. Turning to the unresolved issue concerning the archives of the Tribunal, he stated that documents which have been submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor, but not used as evidence during the ICTY and Mechanism proceedings, should be returned to source institutions. Moreover, the Security Council must not allow the harassment of incarcerated Serbian citizens, he stressed, also pointing to threats and intimidation of witnesses in the Jojić and Radeta case.
Rwanda’s representative called for the commencement of the trial of Mr. Kabuga, the only genocide fugitive apprehended by the Mechanism since its inception in 2010. Noting with concern that several Member States refuse to extend cooperation to the Prosecutor’s office, she recalled that more than 1.4 million Rwandans were murdered in an atrocious manner within only three months in 1994 and questioned the geostrategic interests of any Member State choosing to side with the perpetrators by helping them evade justice.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s representative described his country’s cooperation with the Mechanism as stable and complete, noting that in the period between the two Council sessions, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has forwarded more than 170 different cases for further investigation and prosecution. A regional conference with representatives of the Prosecutor’s office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and representatives of Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro was held in Belgrade, on 20 and 21 September, he continued, adding that the objective of the meeting was to discuss resolving all unresolved war crime cases, including through improving cooperation between countries and mutual legal assistance.
Croatia’s delegate said his country is still waiting for Serbia’s response to finalize the draft of a bilateral agreement on processing war crimes. Noting that Zagreb decided to reject the request initiated by Republika Srpska and forwarded to Croatia through institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take over the prosecution of 14 high-ranking Croatian officers, suspected of war crimes allegedly committed in 1995 during Operation Flash, he expressed regret that the Prosecutor negatively reflected this decision in his report. On the search for 1,853 missing Croatian citizens, which is his country’s long-standing priority, he noted that the discovery of a mass grave with the remains of at least 10 people near the town of Vukovar in November was solely the result of Croatian authorities’ efforts, which clearly demonstrates that crucial information is still not shared.
Also speaking were the representatives of Viet Nam, China, Estonia, Kenya, United Kingdom, India, Ireland, France, Tunisia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Norway and Mexico.
The meeting began at 11:29 a.m. and ended at 1:39 p.m.
CARMEL AGIUS, President, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, briefing the Security Council on its annual report (document S/2021/694), said that during the reporting period it has largely implemented Security Council resolution 2529 (2020), adopted following the third review of the progress of its work. The Mechanism will continue to actively engage in the evaluation of its methods, ahead of the next review by the Council in 2022. Recalling paragraph 6 of the resolution, which emblematizes the Council’s intention for the Mechanism to operate as a residual institution, he stated that the strong progress set out in the report attests to the international court’s intention to complete its functions efficiently and effectively.
Against this backdrop, he highlighted that during the reporting period, the Mechanism was able to deliver on time all three judgments slated for June: the appeal judgment in the Mladić case, as well as trial judgments in the Stanišić and Simatović case and the Nzabonimpa et al. contempt case. On the docket at present, he said, are the appeal proceedings on the latter two cases — one of which, Nzabonimpa et al., is now called Fatuma et al. — as well as the trial against Félicien Kabuga, which is in the pre-trial phase due to his health situation. The diminishing of the Mechanism’s active caseload is significant, owing to its nature as a downsizing and temporary institution, he added.
Turning to the Mechanism’s implementation of various provisions of the resolution 2529 (2020), intended to enhance efficiency and transparent management, he noted that it has worked hard to carry out the outstanding recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Moreover, it carries out its reporting requirements “with painstaking attention” to ensure transparency and accountability. The Mechanism also makes sure to safeguard the rights of all persons detained on its authority in accordance with applicable international standards, including those related to health care, as exemplified by the COVID‑19 measures in place at the international court’s detention unit in The Hague, where all five of its current detainees — Brđanin, Kabuga, Mladić, Simatović and Stanišić — are carefully monitored. On the pardon, commutation of sentence or early release of persons convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), he said he disposed of three such matters during the reporting period.
He went on to describe a “major breakthrough” on the situation relating to the nine acquitted or released persons living in a safe house in Arusha, Tanzania, which, he pointed out, was “a situation that has seemed, at times, almost impossible to resolve and is referenced in no less than 10 Council decisions, as well as numerous reports”. He thanked the “truly exceptional efforts” of the Mechanism’s Registrar, Abubacarr Tambadou, as well as the “exemplary cooperation” of the President of his country, Niger, which led to the signing of a milestone agreement between Niamey and the United Nations, by which Niger has accepted for relocation in its territory all nine persons acquitted or released by ICTR or the Mechanism. He applauded Niger for its willingness to take action and cooperate with the Mechanism, and reiterated his call on Belgrade to fulfil its international obligations by arresting and transferring to the Mechanism Petar Jojić and Vjerica Radeta.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, highlighted several key issues for the Mechanism, reporting that in the Kabuga case, the trial team filed its Pre-Trial Brief and responded to additional litigation initiated by Mr. Kabuga’s family members and third parties concerning seized assets. In addition, his office completed two more trials during the reporting period: Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović were convicted for aiding and abetting murder, deportation, and persecution as crimes against humanity and murder as a war crime. In the Nzabonimpa et al. case, four accused were convicted of contempt of court for efforts to interfere with the administration of justice by influencing witnesses in a failed effort to overturn the genocide conviction of Augustin Ngirabatware.
His office continues to actively search for the remaining six fugitives indicated by ICTR, he went on, adding that the most wanted of group is Protais Mpiranya. Under the new leadership of its tracking team, the Mechanism is implementing analysis-driven investigations using advanced tools. However, the success of those efforts will depend on cooperation from Member States, namely Zimbabwe and South Africa. As for Zimbabwe, he reported on a successful official mission to Harare in November and said he expects full and effective cooperation. However, regarding South Africa, his office faced immense challenges over the last three years in obtaining cooperation, he said, citing the country’s failure to arrest Fulgence Kayishema.
Turning to the Mechanism’s provision of assistance to domestic investigators and prosecutors around the world, he reported that his office’s third strategic priority is to assist national jurisdictions prosecuting international crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The workload associated with that function has been much greater than anticipated, he said. Bringing attention to the continued denial of crimes and glorification of war criminals, he noted that murals of Ratko Mladić in Belgrade and the publication of extremist Rwandan diaspora groups demonstrate that there are still those who deny, relativize and minimize the judicially established facts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Such phenomena “prevent reconciliation, provoke hatred and destabilize peace and security. They also condemn present and future generations to bear the burdens of the past.”
HAI ANH PHAM (Viet Nam) observed that despite challenges caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, the principals and staff of the Mechanism made meaningful progress in judicial activities, with judgments rendered in three important cases. Securing the assistance of States in the enforcement of sentences is of paramount importance in alleviating the residual burden on the Mechanism and should continue to be prioritized, he emphasized. As several fugitives remain at large, despite efforts by the Office of the Prosecutor to locate and arrest them, States’ cooperation with the Mechanism remains crucial in fulfilling its mandates. In that context, he said it is States’ responsibility, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, to cooperate with and assist the Mechanism where needed.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation), stressing that justice is being served selectively, said there is no evidence that the Mechanism is being brought to a close. “There are increasingly new pretexts to continue its existence,” he said, underscoring that it is wrong to consider it a full-fledged international tribunal when it was created as a temporary structure. The Mechanism is systematically drawing out all trials and artificially extending its existence, he said, also noting the “financial appetite of the Mechanism” with over $90 million spent on it in 2021, though there’s only one case being heard at trial at the moment. “Why are we spending this money on maintaining this court,” he asked, adding that national courts are cheaper and work well. Describing the work of the Mechanism as “a unique combination of bias and tardiness”, he also expressed concern about the increasing number of cases of contempt of court.
GENG SHUANG (China) said that, in accordance with relevant Council resolutions, the Mechanism should be a small, efficient and temporary institution whose size should be reduced over time. He expressed hope that the Mechanism will conduct its activities pursuant to its mandate, particularly by completing judicial proceedings in a timely, efficient manner. It should allocate resources rationally — focusing on judicial activities — and, as its caseload decreases, should reduce spending accordingly. Noting the importance of coordination between the Mechanism and concerned countries, he expressed hope that such cooperation will continue to collectively combat impunity. He went on to say that the Mechanism should further implement the efforts of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals to facilitate judicial proceedings, including the reasonable resolution of issues relating to resettlement of persons acquitted or released.
ANDRE LIPAND (Estonia) welcomed the progress made by the Mechanism’s in carrying out its judicial activities during the reporting period, including the delivery of three judgments during the month of June. He noted the two cases entering stages of appeal and the ongoing judicial activity in the Kabuga case. He underscored that the Mechanism relies on cooperation from States in conducting its work. Turning to the acquitted and released persons in Arusha, he called on all stakeholders to ensure a safe and speedy solution. He strongly urged States, especially the African States where fugitives are suspected of being at large, to intensify their cooperation with the Mechanism to arrest and surrender all remaining fugitives. Moreover, he expressed deep regret that Serbia has continued to disregard its obligations under international law to comply with the Mechanism’s orders, calling on Serbia to execute the arrest warrants for Petar Jojić and Vjerica Radeta. The international community and this Council must work together to ensure justice for the countless victims and survivors; at the same time, domestic jurisdictions also need to assume their role. He expressed deep concern about the ongoing denial of the genocides and the glorification of convicted war criminals, stressing: “This is unacceptable and must stop.”
CATHERINE NYABOKE NYAKOE (Kenya) acknowledged the progress achieved by the Mechanism in its judicial functions during the reporting period. Noting that the judicial workload of the Mechanism has been significantly reduced by the work undertaken since the last briefing, she urged a speedy completion of the remaining cases to help survivors and families of victims find closure, and to create a conducive environment for reconciliation. She said that it is important that States do their utmost to strengthen their judiciaries as a critical pillar in nation building, development and preventing conflict. She called on the Secretary-General to seek every avenue to assist States that need capacity-building and urged them to build tools into their national laws, electoral processes and legal mechanisms to inclusively manage their diversity. States also need to cooperate with the Mechanism to apprehend the remaining fugitives in response to its improved tracking capability.
CHANAKA LIAM WICKREMASINGHE (United Kingdom), noting that the Mechanism continues to play a crucial role in ending impunity, pointed to the significant progress the court achieved by rendering three notable judgments. The timely delivery of these judgments shows that the Mechanism has a clear plan for winding down its activities, he said, adding that his country will continue to follow the current cases closely and asking for timely updates regarding them. Calling on the Government of Zimbabwe to work with the Mechanism, he added that judicial cooperation in some parts of the Western world is also inadequate which directly impacts justice. Highlighting the referral of Serbia to the Council for its failure to assist the Mechanism, he expressed concern about such continued compliance. “Reconciliation is difficult,” he said, adding that glorifying the perpetrators of heinous attacks only takes people further away from reconciliation.
KAJAL BHAT (India) reiterated her support for the Mechanism and commended its contribution to the fight against impunity and to the preservation of the legacy of ICTY and ICTR. She took note of the commencement of appeal proceedings in both the Stanišić and Simatović case and the Nzabonimpa et al. case and pretrial proceedings in the Kabuga case and the Jojić and Radeta case. She reiterated the importance of implementation of the mandate by the mechanism strictly in accordance with the principles of justice, impartiality and fairness. She said that India looks forward to early progress on the relocation of the nine acquitted persons, who are still in the safe house in Arusha. This is a humanitarian issue which needs to be addressed with urgency and sensitivity.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that States have an obligation to cooperate with the Mechanism in its investigations and prosecutions. Her country remains deeply concerned that following the referral of Serbia to the Council due to non-cooperation in the surrender and arrest of Mr. Jojić and Ms. Radeta, no action has been taken by Belgrade. She called on Serbia and all States to fulfil their obligations under international law, cooperate fully with the Mechanism, and assist in its efforts to arrest and surrender the remaining fugitives. Those who commit atrocity crimes must be brought to justice and ending impunity is imperative to sustaining peace and stability in the region. She strongly supported the Mechanism’s role as a preventative tool against future acts of violence. Denials of genocide and the glorification of convicted war criminals must be consistently challenged and must be condemned, she said.
DIARRA DIME LABILLE (France) said the Mechanism made significant progress in 2021 and called on the Security Council to continue to support its work. Noting that the three judgments of June 2021 were long awaited and even more so would be those rendered in 2022, she added that the Kabuga case represents an important moment for national reconciliation in Rwanda. The Mechanism should have proper financing and qualified personnel to complete these processes in the best possible time frame, she stressed, encouraging all States to work fully with it in line with their international obligations. Thanking Niger for its decision to fully cooperate with the Mechanism and take in nine people, she voiced regret that some partners still refuse to cooperate despite the many calls from the Mechanism as well as the Council. Stressing the need to bring to justice the last fugitives indicted by ICTR, she said the deaths of the alleged perpetrators of these crimes would not mean justice for the victims.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) welcomed the Mechanism’s ongoing efforts to expeditiously complete trials and appeals, along with those to assist national jurisdictions in prosecuting crimes that took place in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The Mechanism’s work has manifested in several achievements, including its decision affirming the conviction of Ratko Mladić and four convictions relating to witness interference. These judicial actions constitute a step towards securing justice for victims, their families and their countries. He stressed, however, that more must be done to prevent atrocities, including the swift apprehension of the remaining six Rwandan fugitives. He called on those States that may be harbouring these individuals to turn them over, noting that the United States is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to such individuals’ arrest or conviction. Also expressing concern over Serbia’s non-compliance regarding certain arrest warrants, he called on Belgrade to execute such warrants without delay. He added that a critical part of efforts to ensure non-recurrence is the full recognition of international convictions within domestic systems.
RABII ZENATI (Tunisia) observed that the revitalization of international criminal justice has ended a grim era of atrocities and worked to extend peace in the Balkans and Africa. Expressing concern over the promotion of revisionist ideologies, he stressed the importance of keeping memories alive and providing guarantees of future non-violations. In that context, it is essential to enhance early warning systems, accountability, and awareness for decisive and preventative action against revisionist ideologies, he said. Welcoming the Mechanism’s pronouncement of three judgments during the reporting period, he commended Niger’s initiative to facilitate the relocation of eight people and pointed out that the international court must rely on full cooperation of Member States so the remaining six fugitives do not escape justice. He went on to urge the Mechanism to continue planning and streamlining its work to conduct business on reasonable timelines.
DIANI JIMESHA ARIANNE PRINCE (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said the Mechanism’s work in practical areas such as witness support and protection, monitoring cases referred to national jurisdictions, preservation of archives and the provision of multifaceted assistance to Member States cannot be overstated. As for gender parity among staff, she expressed dismay that the number of women judges now stands at 7 out of 25. In that context, she expressed hope that Member States will keep the current composition of the roster in mind when nominating future candidates. In the absence of international cooperation and timely assistance from Member States, the search for missing persons and the tracking and apprehension of fugitives will be severely impeded, she said. Furthermore, the enforcement of judgments will not be guaranteed, and victims will be denied justice. As such, political will is much needed as non-cooperation undermines the administration of justice and the rule of law.
TERJE AALIA (Norway) stressed that Security Council decisions must be adhered to, adding that non-cooperation undermines the Mechanism, Council and international law. Norway commends the Mechanism’s high level of activity during the reporting period, which includes significant judicial activities, and the delivery of judgments in the Stanišić and Simatović re-trial and contempt case of Nzabonimpa et al., both of which are now in the appeals phase. However, he expressed regret on the lack of progress in the Jojić and Radeta case, and strongly urged Serbia to cooperate fully with the Mechanism, adding: “Its silence — at the very least — sends the world community the wrong message more than two decades after the Balkan wars.” On the tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, he underlined the importance of the Mechanism carrying out and eventually completing the work related to both situations. He applauded the seemingly good solution for the long-lasting difficult situation of the persons who have been in a safe house in Arusha. Turning to Rwanda, and the remaining fugitives indicted by the Tribunal, he expressed concern about the reported lack of timely and effective cooperation from Member States, urging all States to fully cooperate with the Mechanism, and arrest and surrender all remaining fugitives. The Council should also assume its responsibility by examining every possible measure to facilitate the arrest and surrender of those wanted by the Mechanism.
JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico), noting the unforeseen circumstances of 2021, from the pandemic to the death of a judge, praised the commitment of all the judges and the Prosecutor’s office of the Mechanism. The delivery of a verdict in the Mladić case proves that despite the passage of time, when it comes to mass atrocities, there is no room for impunity. All the resources invested in these efforts are fully justified even though they fall short when compared to the suffering of the victims and their families, he stressed. Noting the contempt cases, he voiced concern about the lack of compliance with arrest and handover warrants, and stressed that cooperation with the Mechanism is mandatory. Reaffirming his country’s commitment to ensuring that the Mechanism’s budget will not be impacted, he said that the international community must not subject the administration of justice to criteria of efficiency motivated by narrow interests.
SAMADOU OUSMAN (Niger), President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed progress made by the Mechanism in the exercise of its judicial and administrative functions, including the various judicial decisions rendered, the search for remaining fugitives, assistance to national jurisdictions and the follow-up of cases referred to them and the management of the archives of ICTR and ICTY. He called on the Security Council, in coordination with the General Assembly, to allocate sufficient resources to enable the Mechanism to fulfil its mission. He welcomed the 15 November 2021 signing of an agreement between Niger and the United Nations on the transfer of persons released or acquitted by ICTR or the Mechanism. He encouraged all awareness and education activities, to make known to the affected communities and to the younger generations of the legacy of the Tribunals, to prevent the commission of new crimes of genocide.
SVEN ALKALAJ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), noting that the pandemic has had a serious impact on the Mechanism’s activities, as well as those of judicial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the judicial authorities are nonetheless taking all necessary measures to implement the revised strategy for processing war crimes cases, including working to resolve all open war crime cases at different levels. He stressed that all potential perpetrators of war crimes must be prosecuted for their personal or command responsibility. He went on to describe his country’s cooperation with the Mechanism as stable and complete, noting that in the period between the two Council sessions, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has forwarded more than 170 different cases for further investigation and prosecution. A regional conference with representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and representatives of Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro was held in Belgrade, on 20 and 21 September, he continued, adding that the objective of the meeting was to discuss resolving all unresolved war crime cases, improving cooperation between countries, mutual legal assistance and review of the obstacles in fulfilling these goals.
He emphasized his country’s commitment to investigating, prosecuting and punishing all persons responsible for war crimes. Moreover, witness protection is of the utmost importance in the conduct and operations of all judicial institutions, as is cooperation on exchange of information between its institutions and those of neighbouring countries, in the search for the more than 6,000 persons who remain missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Several bilateral agreements have been signed in this regard, he added. He called for improvements to be made in cooperation with the Croatian Government, through the removal of a 2015 decision to not comply with requests for mutual legal assistance in the cases treated as crimes against humanity. Further, he went on to note that no progress has been made in the cases of Novak Đukić and Milomir Savčić, who fled to Serbia while standing trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Further, he emphasized that the glorification of war crimes, their perpetrators and denial of war crimes are unacceptable, stressing that the cases involving murals with the portrait of Ratko Mladić in Belgrade are not contributing to reconciliation in the Western Balkans region.
NEMANJA STEVANOVIĆ (Serbia), calling for a timely response to requests for early release submitted to the Mechanism by various citizens of his country, reiterated that his Government is ready to assume responsibility “for sentence serving of its citizens who were convicted by the Tribunal”. Also noting the unresolved issue concerning the archives of the Tribunal, he added that the documents which are submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor, but not used as evidence during the ICTY and Mechanism proceedings, should be returned to source institutions. The Security Council must not allow harassment of incarcerated Serbian citizens, he stressed, also pointing to threats and intimidation of the witnesses in the Jojić and Radeta case.
Emphasizing that his country has prosecuted many war criminals before its courts as well as in cooperation with ICTY and the Mechanism to ensure that all parties responsible for war crimes are brought to justice, he noted its new national strategy for war crimes proceedings. The initiative aims to strengthen all mechanisms for combating war crimes impunity, protect and support victims, establish the fate of missing persons and build a social environment for tolerance and reconciliation. Its implementation also contributes to resolving other remaining and painful issues from the time of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, he added. He further pointed out that it is essential to invest in additional efforts to nourish the culture of remembrance and dialogue, in order to continue the process of reconciliation, foster good-neighbourly relations and maintain lasting peace and stability in the region of the former Yugoslavia. He also noted that the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of Serbia has been intensely working on strengthening the cooperation with regional prosecutors.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) said Félicien Kabuga is one of the masterminds of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and the only genocide fugitive apprehended by the Mechanism since its inception in 2010. His trial should start, she asserted, calling for justice for the victims and survivors of the genocide crimes committed by Mr. Kabuga. She noted with concern that a number of Member States continue to obstruct international justice by refusing to extend cooperation to the Prosecutor’s office. Recalling that more than 1.4 million Rwandans were murdered in the most atrocious manner within only three months during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, she asked what the geostrategic interests of any Member State could be to side with the perpetrators by assisting them to escape justice. On the transfer of the nine Rwandans who were in Arusha to a third country, she said Rwanda expects the host country to exercise its responsibility to ensure that none of the nine persons use their territory for subversive activities that have contributed to the insecurity and instability of the Great Lakes region for the past few decades.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia) said that although the Trial Chamber established the existence of joint criminal enterprise of Serbian perpetrators in Croatia, Serbia and Republika Srpska, it did not list Stanišić and Simatović among them. This decision departs from findings in ICTY verdicts against Milan Babić and Milan Martić for crimes committed in Croatia. The Appeals Chamber must acknowledge the necessity of coherence of judgments rendered by ICTY and the Mechanism and convict Stanišić and Simatović for participation in a joint criminal enterprise, as well as for all crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rwandan fugitives have to be apprehended and tried, he said. The Mechanism’s referral of Serbia to the Security Council for a third time, for the failure to arrest and transfer Jojić and Radeta, must be efficiently dealt with. Croatia is still waiting for Serbia’s response to finalize the draft of a bilateral agreement on processing war crimes, he said. Zagreb decided to reject the request initiated by Republika Srpska and forwarded to Croatia through institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take over the prosecution of 14 high-ranking Croatian officers, suspected of war crimes allegedly committed in 1995 during Operation Flash. He regretted that the Prosecutor negatively reflected this decision in his report, raising unfounded allegations without understanding neither broader context, nor clear legal basis of the decision of Croatian authorities. He said that determining the fate of 1,853 missing Croatian citizens is his countries long-standing priority. In November, the remains of at least 10 people, their hands tied with a wire, were found in a mass grave near the town of Vukovar. Discovery of this mass grave was the result of the sole effort of the Croatian authorities, clearly demonstrating that crucial information is still not shared, he said.