|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
16th Meeting (AM)
Presidents of Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia, Nearing Completion Dates,
Appeal for Cooperation on Arrest of Fugitives, Compensation for Dedicated Staff
Speakers in General Assembly Praise Tribunals’ Contribution to International
Law, Say Transferring Cases to Domestic Courts Vital for National Reconciliation
Pressed to conclude their work by 2010, top officials from the war crimes Tribunals investigating atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Balkan wars of the 1990s, today appealed to the General Assembly for more time, resources and compensation for staff who were throwing their full weight behind the pursuit of justice for victims.
Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, presenting their annual reports, said that, while they were preparing their respective courts for closure, questions lingered about unfinished business that could include trials, supervision of witness protection orders and determining the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions.
For its part, the Rwandan Tribunal’s unique mandate included a duty to “contribute to the process of national reconciliation” -- an ambitious goal, Mr. Byron said. Among the Tribunal’s biggest coups was the arrest and transfer -- in recent weeks -- of two accused from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda to Arusha. Grégoire Ndahimana had appeared before a Tribunal judge last week and pled not guilty on all charges. Idelphonse Nizeyimana -- one of four most wanted and high-ranking fugitives of Rwanda’s genocide -- was arrested on Monday and would appear before a judge tomorrow.
As the Tribunal prepared for closure, Mr. Byron asked: “What legacy will the Tribunal leave to the victims, to the Great Lakes Region and to the international community?” The answer must be a continuous and comprehensive fight against impunity for those who committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in 1994. The Tribunal’s closure must not send the wrong signal that suspects on the run could now breathe easily. The judicial body would continue to work on capacity-building, notably through training of judicial officials.
For the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Robinson said all but four trials at the Tribunal would likely conclude in 2010, with three finishing in 2011 and the final trial -- that of Radovan Karadžić -- wrapping up in 2012. However, two high-profile fugitives -- Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić -- remained at large, and if they were not brought to justice, it would leave a “stain” on the United Nations’ historic contribution to peacebuilding.
When wrapping up its work, the morale of an institution had to be upheld during its final stages, he explained, a point made all the more crucial by the fact that compensation for the victims of atrocities still had to be addressed. He believed the international community had forgotten the victims and feared that failure to address their needs would undermine the Tribunal’s efforts to contribute long-term regional stability. He implored the Assembly to create a claims commission to complement the Tribunal’s work and ensure that it was not unnecessarily tarnished by the sustained flight from justice of the remaining two fugitives.
Speaking after their presentations, the representative of the Russian Federation pointed out that, at the time of their creation, the Tribunals’ function was considered by the Security Council in the broader context of post-conflict settlement. As such, they should not take the place of existing national tribunals and should keep within their limited time frames to conclude their work by the end of 2010.
To help move that process along, Serbia’s delegate underscored that all efforts were being made to track down Mr. Mladić and Mr. Hadžić, a sign that his country accepted international standards pertaining to individual responsibility for war crimes and other international humanitarian law violations. At the same time, he urged the United Nations to revise its position on the serving of prison sentences by convicted persons in their home countries, and expressed hope that the Tribunal would support country intentions in that regard.
Rwanda’s representative said the strongest impetus for reconciliation in his country would be for justice to take place where the crimes had been committed. He insisted that no residual mechanism of the Rwanda Tribunal should have a trial capacity after 2010, and all cases in which trials had not started by the end of 2010 should be transferred to the national courts of a State in whose territory the crime was committed; or in which the accused was arrested; or any other State that was willing to accept the case.
“This is the only way the international community will ensure that the global fight against impunity for the remaining fugitives would be realized while achieving the stated objective of ending the work of the Tribunal,” he declared.
In other business, the Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), adopted a resolution on the “scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: requests under Article 19 of the Charter” (document A/64/482) without a vote.
By that text, the Assembly agreed that the failure of the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia to pay the full minimum amount necessary to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control; and decided that those six countries would be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of its sixty‑fourth session.
[According to Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization will have no vote in the Assembly, if the amount of those arrears exceeds the amount of the contributions due from the preceding two years.]
Also speaking today were the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Croatia, Norway, Kenya, Albania and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 12 October, to debate the promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development in accordance with Assembly resolutions and recent United Nations conferences.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the annual reports of the work of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
In the annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/64/206), the President of the Tribunal said the body had faced an unprecedented workload in the reporting period and that situation would continue in the coming year. Six trial judgements concerning nine accused were delivered, bringing to 45 the total number of persons whose judgements were completed at the first instance. The evidence phases in trials against 15 persons were completed by the reporting period’s end, and judgements were being drafted in seven cases involving 18 accused. The report covers the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.
In addition to many interlocutory decisions and pretrial orders, the Appeals Chamber rendered two judgements in single-accused cases, bringing to 27 the total number of persons whose judgements had been completed at the appellate level. Judge Dennis Byron ( Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Judge Khalida Rachid Khan ( Pakistan) were re-elected for a second term as President and Vice‑President in May 2009.
The support of Member States was essential as the Prosecutor’s Office accelerated its efforts to ensure the arrest of the remaining 13 fugitives, who continued to elude justice, which should not be accepted by the international community, the report concludes. Cooperation on the relocation of acquitted persons and accused who had served their sentence was also essential. It also helped Rwandan authorities in their efforts to meet the conditions for the transfer of cases as established by the Trial and Appeals Chambers, which could enable renewed requests for referrals.
The Court is formally known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994.
In the sixteenth annual report of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/64/205), the President of the Tribunal said the Appeals Chamber delivered three judgments involving four accused, bringing to 86 the number of cases fully completed. The Trial Chambers delivered three judgements involving nine accused and at their peak ran eight trials simultaneously in its three courtrooms.
As of the close of the one-year reporting period on 31 July 2009, appeal proceedings were ongoing for 12 persons, and 21 accused were currently on trial. Four accused remained at the pretrial stage. The failure to arrest two more accused, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, gravely concerned the Tribunal.
Patrick Robinson ( Jamaica) was elected President of the Tribunal and O-gon Kwon ( Republic of Korea) was elected Vice-President. A new Registrar, John Hocking, was sworn in on 19 May 2009 and the Registry continued to hand the Tribunal administrative and judicial support. Serge Brammertz continued as Prosecutor, taking up office on 1 January 2008 after his November 2007 appointment.
The Prosecutor’s Office backed the use of capacity-building activities in the region and partnerships with national prosecutors to support the rule of law, the report states. Cooperation with regional authorities in judicial matters was crucial for successful prosecution of war crime cases at the national level.
The report also stresses the importance of cooperation of the States of the former Yugoslavia and other States to fulfilling the Tribunal’s mandate, as required under article 29 of the body’s statute. Cooperation with the States of the former Yugoslavia was particularly vital in the areas of access to archives, documents and witnesses; the prosecution of witnesses; and efforts to locate, arrest and transfer the two remaining fugitives and take measures against those whom supported them.
To date, the Tribunal had concluded proceedings against 120 accused out of 161 indicted. The report shows the Tribunals’ focus on completing its proceedings as soon as possible without sacrificing due process.
The full name of the Tribunal is the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.
Action on Draft Resolution
Acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the General Assembly adopted the resolution on the “scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: requests under Article 19 of the Charter” (document A/64/482) without a vote.
By that text, the Assembly agrees that the failure of the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia to pay the full minimum amount necessary to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter was due to conditions beyond their control; and decided that those six countries would be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of its sixty-fourth session.
[According to Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization will have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of those arrears exceeds the amount of the contributions due from the preceding two years.]
Statement by President of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
DENNIS BYRON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said 2009 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people or more were killed, and still more had been mutilated, raped and tortured. Today, efforts on all levels continued, in Rwanda and elsewhere, to cope with the past and prevent similar atrocities from happening.
The Tribunal, established by Security Council resolution 955 (1994), had a unique mandate to conduct trials and “contribute to the process of national reconciliation” -- an ambitious goal. Looking back, he called the Tribunal’s achievements a “milestone” for international law and, more broadly, the international pursuit for justice.
[According to the Tribunals’ Completion Strategy, set out in Security Council resolution 1503 (2003), all first instance cases were to have completed trial by the end of 2008. That date was later extended to the end of 2009, and all work was to have been completed by 2010.]
Presenting the Tribunal’s fourteenth annual report, which covered the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009, he said all efforts were being put into completing the first instance to the maximum extent possible in 2010, without compromising strict standards of fair trial rights for the accused.
Describing the Tribunal’s overall efforts, he said seven trials involving 10 accused were in the evidence phase, four of which would be completed this year. Two more trials would begin shortly. Such intense trial activity involved rendering 800 written and oral decisions and orders. In parallel, the Chambers focused on delivery of judgements and, since 1 July 2008, the Trial Chambers had rendered judgements in eight cases involving 11 accused. Four more judgements would be delivered by year’s end. For 2010, he expected judgements in nearly all pending first instance trials -- 14 trials against 24 accused.
Amid the Tribunal’s enormous workload, he said three of its judges, from Fiji, Argentina and the Czech Republic, had left at the end of last year, while three new ad litem judges from the United Republic of Tanzania, Madagascar and Turkey, and a new permanent judge from the Russian Federation, had since joined. Their mandates had been extended until the end of 2010.
For the Tribunal to complete its work, it was essential to ensure that all judges completed their current assignments, he stressed. The 11 ad hoc judges, and seven permanent judges at the trial level, handled a comparable workload, and the inequity in their terms and conditions of service -- particularly concerning their entitlement to a pension -- were of serious concern. He asked the Assembly to address that matter in a resolution as soon as possible.
Turning to the Appeals Chamber, which was shared with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he said it had delivered two judgements and more than 30 interlocutory and other decisions, including three which confirmed the denial of requests for the referral of cases to national jurisdictions. Eight appeals were pending. However, for it to handle its work, Security Council resolution 1878 (2008) was critical, as it authorized an expansion of the Chamber by up to eight judges.
As for the Office of the Prosecutor, he was pleased to report the arrest and transfer of two accused from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda to Arusha in the past few weeks. Grégoire Ndahimana appeared before a Tribunal judge last week, pleading not guilty on all charges. Idelphonse Nizeyimana, arrested on Monday, would appear tomorrow. He was one of four most wanted and high-ranking fugitives in Rwanda’s genocide who were to be brought to trial. For the other eight, Prosecutor Hassan Jallow and Registrar Adama Dieng were working with national authorities to ensure that conditions for a referral of their cases to the national jurisdictions were met.
Discussing the Office of the Registrar, which coordinated matters of judicial and other cooperation with Member States, he said indictees had been arrested and transferred to the Tribunal from 26 countries in Africa, Europe and North America. In the reporting period, he had rendered decisions for the transfer of 18 convicts to Mali and Benin for the enforcement of their sentence. Two acquitted persons remained in Arusha, while the Registrar worked to find a country of relocation. In that context, he called on Member States to find, as in previous cases, sustainable solutions in that matter.
In the pre-closure phase, the downsizing process had begun and contracts of over 50 staff had not been extended in sections where services were no longer considered essential, he continued. However, it was critical to ensure an adequate level of experienced staff for core activities -- the conduct of trials and preparation of judgements -- and the importance of the 2009 resolution that encouraged contract extension could not be overestimated.
The Tribunal was also preparing for its closure, he explained, which meant “navigating in uncharted waters”. In those efforts, the Court had been working with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and the Security Council to determine the tasks that would remain after closure, which could include trials, supervision of witness protection orders and, importantly, management of the Tribunal’s vast archives.
He asked: “What legacy will the Tribunal leave to the victims, to the Great Lakes Region and to the international community?” The answer must be a continuous and comprehensive fight against impunity for those who committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in 1994. The Tribunal’s closure must not send the wrong signal to the many suspects still on the run that they could now breathe easily. As such, the Tribunal continued to work on capacity-building, notably through training activities and awareness raising, and also through conferences with national prosecuting authorities.
As the Tribunal had submitted its budget request for the 2010-2011 biennium, he called on the Assembly to continue its support by providing required funds. The Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were at the starting point of an amazing development of international criminal justice. He urged continued work together, nationally and internationally, to end impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Statement by President of Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia
PATRICK ROBINSON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, said the Tribunal’s commitment to its completion strategy was steadfast, and it aimed to finish its work as quickly as possible in accordance with its mandate. During the reporting period, three appeal judgements were rendered, bringing to 86 the number of appeal cases fully completed and three trial judgements were rendered, bringing to 50 the number of trials that had been heard.
At its peak, the Tribunal ran eight trials simultaneously in three courtrooms. The two cases that remained at the pretrial stage would begin this year and he estimated that all but four of the trials would conclude in 2010, with three finishing in 2011 and the final trial, that of Radovan Karadžić, wrapping up in early 2012. Unfortunately, two high-profile fugitives remained at large, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. If they were not brought to justice, it would leave a stain on the historic contribution of the United Nations to peacebuilding in the former Yugoslavia. He urged Member States to do everything in their power to ensure the fugitives’ apprehension.
A comprehensive assessment of all present and anticipated appellate work had been carried out, and mid-2013 had been set as the completion date. The Tribunal was continually looking for new and creative ways to increase its productivity and pinpoint potential obstacles to its work. The retention of the Tribunal’s highly qualified staff was of critical concern. Indeed, simultaneously downsizing the staff whose tasks were completed put the Tribunal in an extraordinarily difficult position.
Upholding the morale of an institution during its final stages was also a challenge, as many staff would be tempted to seek more permanent employment elsewhere, long before their posts in the tribunal had been closed down. That posed a great risk to the Tribunal’s work, and in fact, many staff had already left and the court was currently losing about one employee a day. In that regard, he said he was grateful to the Assembly for its adoption of resolution 63/256, which recognized the difficulty and had let the Tribunal offer contracts to staff in line with the dates of planned post reductions and accordance with trial schedules.
But that measure was not enough, and failure to act swiftly would impact the Tribunal’s efficiency and extend the amount of time needed to complete its mandate. Aware of the contractual regime changes that would be on the Assembly’s fall agenda; he said the continuing appointments would offer some crucial stability. The end-of-service grant was another initiative that could help slow the attrition rate. He urged the Assembly to help the Tribunal devise other measures to retain its highly qualified staff.
Another matter was the Tribunal’s work in fulfilling its mandate to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the former Yugoslavia and ensure that local jurisdictions had the capacity to continue with the prosecution of war crimes cases in accordance with Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004). For example, the Tribunal had published a manual describing its practices in unprecedented detail. It was also deepening it cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office of Democratic Institutionalism and was preparing an ambitious project to guarantee that the national justice systems in the region could deal with the growing war crimes case loads.
He said it was crucial that compensation to victims for the atrocities that they suffered during the conflicts in the region be addressed. He believed the international community had forgotten the victims and there was no effective mechanism for them to seek compensation for their injuries, even though this right was firmly rooted in international law. He feared that failure to address their needs would undermine the Tribunal’s efforts to contribute to the region’s long‑term peace and stability. He implored the Assembly to create a claims commission as a way to complement the Tribunal’s work.
The Tribunal’s creation in 1993 had ushered in a new era in international affairs that led to the creation of other international criminal justice institutions. He urged the Assembly to ensure its work was not unnecessarily tarnished by the sustained flight from justice of the remaining two fugitives. He called on Member States to help the Tribunal complete its work in a successful and rational manner and provide support to national institutions in the former Yugoslavia so they could carry on the Tribunal’s mission to fight impunity.
ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden) speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed his unwavering support for the work of the Tribunals. Since their establishment, the Tribunals served as an inspiration to the international community by refusing to let perpetrators of heinous crimes escape justice. “This sends a clear signal that war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity will not go unpunished, and [it] fosters a culture of accountability.” He added that the Tribunals had also strengthened the rule of law and promoted long-term stability and reconciliation in the Balkans and Rwanda.
The Tribunals were groundbreaking in their development of case law and jurisprudence, and made invaluable contributions to international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Their contributions spanned from making essential definitions regarding the reach of international humanitarian law to the important finding that rape and sexual violence with the intent to destroy a protected group could constitute genocide.
The work of the two Tribunals showed that international law was an enforceable body of law, he said, and noted that it contributed to the elaboration and adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998. In terms of strengthened domestic capacity, certain resolutions called for a transfer of all lower- and mid-level accused back to competent national jurisdictions in the region for trial by domestic courts.
Despite continued appeals of the international community, 13 accused remained at large, 2 indicted by the Yugoslav Tribunal and 11 indicted by the Rwanda Tribunal. He said that the failure to arrest these accused remained a grave concern to the European Union. Among those still at large were key indictees allegedly responsible for the most serious atrocities, such as Ratko Mladić and Félicien Kabuga, respectively.
The European Union commended the cooperation of the Ugandan authorities and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), which had led to the arrest and transfer to the Rwanda Tribunal of one of the top accused who was facing multiple charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. He urged immediate and unconditional cooperation of States with both Tribunals and reaffirmed the European Union’s commitment that all indictees faced justice.
He said the Tribunals were approaching the end of their work -- they were not intended to be permanent courts and would cease to exist when the Security Council deemed that the work for which they were set up had been accomplished. However, there were some delays due to late capture and transfer of fugitive indictees. He reaffirmed the preservation of legacy of the Tribunals, and said their contribution was not limited to the development of case law.
KEITH MORRILL (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said the groundbreaking work of the Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia had made a significant contribution towards promoting accountability for those responsible for committing the most serious international crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. By bringing to justice the perpetrators of such crimes, the tribunals had helped to strengthen the rule of law and promoted long-term stability and reconciliation in the Balkans and in Rwanda.
His delegation appreciated the efforts being made by both Tribunals towards achieving the goals outlined in their respective completion strategies, and he noted as well the recent Security Council resolutions extending the terms of office of the judges of both courts. His delegation continued to urge the Tribunals to identify measures that would enable them to complete their work as efficiently and promptly as possible, including the transfer of cases to national courts, where it was appropriate. It was his hope that further steps that Rwanda had taken over the last year to strengthen its judicial system would see the first cases transferred to Rwanda in the near future.
Continuing, he said that with both courts working towards the end of their mandates, it would be vital to address the associated “residual issues” of completion, including enforcement of sentences, the continuing protection of witnesses, detention issues, future applications by convicted persons, and the preservation and protection of archives.
He welcomed the steps already taken by both Tribunals to deal with residual issues, noting that, while every situation was different, CANZ believed that lessons learned and solutions found in the “ICTR/ICTY context” could also be applicable to other tribunals, such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Pledging his delegation’s continued support and cooperation, he called on States to give practical effect to their commitment to an effective system of international criminal justice, stressing that the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals continued to contribute significantly to the fight against impunity, and the successful completion of their work relied on cooperation and support from all States.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ ( Serbia) expressed his satisfaction with the comprehensive approach taken by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and said that a successful conclusion of that Court’s work remained the utmost priority. The level of cooperation, especially regarding the access to archives, provision of documents to the Tribunal, witness protection and the provision of waivers for testifying in the proceedings, provided ample proof of the Serbian Government’s commitment to full cooperation with the Yugoslav Tribunal.
He noted that all efforts were being invested in tracking down two of the last remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, calling it an “international obligation” and indicating Serbia’s acceptance of international standards with respect to individual responsibility for war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. He expressed a firm conviction that the fight against impunity was in the common interest of all the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, and said that greater regional cooperation on the issue contributed to the realization of universal principles of justice and fairness.
New realities had emerged in the region, including improved relations and cooperation among States. In addition, he urged the United Nations to reconsider and revise its position on the serving of prison sentences by convicted persons in their home countries, and he hoped the Tribunal would lend its support to the intentions of the countries of the regions in that regard.
He reminded the Assembly about media reporting on the destruction of documents, including those of the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which detailed the existence of clandestine clinics where abducted Serbs from Kosovo “were taken to suffer the worst fate of being subjected to the forced harvesting of organs till death”. The legal bodies of Serbia had issued an appeal for assistance, including by the Tribunal, into the conduct of its investigation on that grave matter.
The unequivocal support of Serbia to the Tribunal had been demonstrated by the adoption of an official position by Serbia regarding the completion strategy and residual mechanism of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. “We stand ready to support all initiatives that could expedite the remaining work of the Tribunal,” he said.
MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) praised both Tribunals, saying their work had been crucial in advancing justice and the rule of law in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunals would leave a legacy of international jurisprudence that could guide other courts and deter the future commission of grave crimes, as well as prevent impunity. He similarly commended the Tribunals’ commitment to meeting their respective completion strategies, while ensuring due process standards and fundamental legal principles were fully respected, and he urged them to continue those efforts in that regard.
The Tribunals could not successfully complete their mandates without the full cooperation of States. With that in mind, he said he believed it was crucial at this point that States gave both courts their unreserved supported. To that end, he called on all States to honour their obligations with regard to requests for full and effective assistance to the Tribunals. Additionally, the important responsibility for enforcing sentences needed to be shared by more States.
He went on to express concern at the failure to arrest remaining fugitives, stating that it was unacceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes were evading legal proceedings. To that end, he welcomed the arrest this week of Idelphonse Nizeyimana, one of the remaining accused by the Rwanda Tribunal, and his prompt transfer to Arusha from Uganda, calling that an important step forward. All Member States should cooperate and continue their support in order to fulfil their obligations to arrest and transfer fugitives to the Tribunals without delay.
Finally, he urged the Security Council to conclude, as soon as possible, the work pending before it on how the residual issues would be dealt with after the Tribunals wrapped up their work. “This would help ensure a proper transition from two Tribunals to one or possibly two mechanisms that can perform the necessary task after the closure of the Tribunals,” he said.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) supported the Tribunals’ efforts to complete their work. Indeed, they had entered a critical period, as they downsized while they continued to work on remaining cases. It was imperative that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s transition to closure did not leave any impunity gaps. In that context, he said Goran Hadžić bore responsibility for some of the gravest crimes, committed in Srebrenica and elsewhere, and that case must be a priority, not just for the Tribunal, but for the wider international community. He welcomed the arrest of fugitives and hoped to see an early start to their trials.
On Radovan Karadžić, he regretted that that case was still in the pretrial phase, despite that more than a dozen years had passed since his indictment. While he shared concerns at holding lengthy trials, one had to be realistic. He welcomed that both Tribunals were redeploying resources and personnel to better respond to circumstances after 2010. Croatia was aware of the attrition of personnel and believed the Tribunals must have sufficient capacity and resources.
For its part, Croatia was aware that international justice was costly and sometimes slow, he continued. The trials before national courts would continue the work started by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Croatia had conducted trials of the most sensitive cases, including the one case transferred to it by the Tribunal. Croatia had an interest in finding just and sustainable solutions to the Tribunal’s discharge of functions, notably regarding its archives and the serving of sentences. It was most important to provide victims justice. He was pleased that the report confirmed Croatia’s good cooperation with the Tribunal. Indeed, that cooperation was unwavering.
The crimes committed in both former Yugoslavia and Rwanda continued to haunt the collective conscience, he said, and the Tribunals had made a profound impact through “individualizing” guilt for those crimes. The Tribunals’ success would be judged by their credibility. They should not close without a credible completion strategy in place and ensuring that impunity would not outlast justice.
ZACHARY D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) was encouraged that, due to exceptional leadership, progress had been made towards achievement of the Tribunals’ respective completion strategies. He welcomed measures, by both courts, to amend their rules of procedure with a view to expediting the delivery of justice. On the Tribunal for Rwanda, sentence enforcement was a matter of concern, and he was pleased that some countries had agreed to host persons convicted by that Tribunal to serve out their sentences.
Such support eased congestion in detention facilities. Urging enhanced cooperation from Member States, he welcomed that the Rwanda Tribunal continued to receive requests for mutual legal assistance from national jurisdictions conducting investigations, with a view to prosecution and extradition of Rwandan fugitives on the INTERPOL wanted list.
For its part, Kenya would continue to support the international criminal justice system, he said, adding that on 20 September, Kenya signed an extradition treaty with Rwanda, which would facilitate cooperation between those countries during the Tribunal’s post-closure period. With that, he encouraged disseminating information on the Tribunals’ activities and urged that the issue of providing safe custody of their records be resolved. Kenya was looking into that question.
Also, visits of high-level officials to the Tribunals were important in enhancing the image of both institutions and he encouraged them as part of awareness-raising programmes. In closing, he said Kenya appreciated the training provided by the European Union to both Tribunals, and asked the Union to consider extending such programmes to the wider East African community.
EUGČNE GASANA ( Rwanda) said the strongest impetus for reconciliation in his country would be for justice to take place where the crimes had been committed. The Rwandan Government insisted that no residual mechanism of the Rwanda Tribunal should have a trial capacity after 2010, and all cases in which trials had not started by the end of 2010 should be transferred to the national courts of a State in whose territory the crime was committed; or in which the accused was arrested; or any other State that was willing to accept the case.
“This is the only way the international community will ensure that the global fight against impunity for the remaining fugitives would be realized while achieving the stated objective of ending the work of the ICTR,” he declared. Rwanda had long called for the transfer of the accused in the Tribunal’s custody for trial before Rwandan domestic courts. Public administration of justice in Rwanda was clearly preferable to any form of justice outside the country, he said, adding that recent suggestions by the Tribunal that domestic justice in Rwanda was somewhat “below standards” were unacceptable. The Government had undertaken wide‑ranging reforms of its legal instruments to accommodate and clarify aspects of the law that had hindered the transfer of cases in the past.
Rwanda looked forward to the Tribunal’s review of its ruling that resulted in preventing domestic courts in other countries from extraditing fugitives to Rwanda for trial, he said. It was noticeable that international prosecution’s usefulness was limited, as those countries that had the appropriate laws lacked the resources or political will to prosecute. Over the years, Rwanda had modernized its domestic justice system according to international standards, including prison conditions, training of judicial personnel and promoting judicial independence and impartiality. Because the Tribunal was never meant to provide justice for the masses, genocide justice was essentially a domestic process.
Rwanda believed that the Tribunal’s residual mechanism had to be entrusted with unfinished or ongoing business, but that no new trials should start after the first quarter of 2010. All other matters must be transferred to national systems. The Government also had stated its preference that persons convicted by the Tribunal serve their sentences in Rwanda, he said. That call had not been heeded. Rwanda maintained that, if the Tribunal’s work was to have any significance for Rwandans, at least some convicts ought to serve their sentences in the country where the crimes were committed. That would help demonstrate the importance of international accountability in a manner that most Rwandans could understand.
FERIT HOXHA ( Albania) said Albania strongly supported all efforts to strengthen international criminal justice, and the international community must, therefore, ensure that those responsible for serious crimes were held accountable and brought to justice. Albania commended both war crimes Tribunals for their irreplaceable roles in combating impunity and setting standards for a global justice that led to peace and security.
He said Albania supported the efforts of the Tribunals to complete their work at the earliest date towards accomplishing their completion strategy, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004), by adopting concrete measures to enhance the efficiency of their proceedings. The courts needed the full support of the Council and the wider international community to successfully prosecute the remaining fugitives.
Albania also considered the referral of other cases to competent national jurisdictions as an essential part of the completion strategy. He welcomed improvements under way so domestic judicial institutions could run fair trials for all lower- and mid-level accused in the respective regions, and noted Rwanda’s efforts to meet the benchmarks for fair trials.
Albania considered that the arrests of the remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić, Goran Hadžić and Félicien Kabuga, should remain a top priority. He called on all States in the respective regions to fully cooperate with the Tribunals. The arrest of those fugitives would mark the ending of tragic periods in the history of both the Balkan region and in Africa, and would pave the way for a long-term reconciliation, he said.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN ( Russian Federation) said both Tribunals had done considerable work to bring to justice the suspects. At the time of their creation, the Security Council considered their function in the broader context of post-conflict settlement in their regions. As such, they should not take the place of existing national tribunals and should keep within their limited time frames for completion -- guided by the strategies laid out by the Security Council -- and conclude their work by the end of 2010.
Unfortunately, he continued, both reports under consideration today suggested “discouraging prospects” for observing those time frames. Security Council resolutions 1877 (2009) and 1878 (2009) had extended the functions of both Tribunals to 2010, and he stressed the exceptional nature of those measures.
He welcomed the Tribunals’ efforts to locate fugitives from justice, saying that the Rwandan Tribunal, with the help of INTERPOL and others, had arrested two suspects. While he shared concern that two suspects in the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s dossier were still at large, the real difficulties in arresting fugitives should not be used as a reason to drag out the work of the Tribunals indefinitely. He called on the Tribunals to activate mechanisms that would bring national courts into the picture to take over outstanding cases.
In that context, he noted the potential of local courts to transfer their experience, making it possible to translate international precedents that had been set. He also requested the Tribunals to rationalize the work of parallel courts. The General Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) would need to adopt resolutions on the Tribunals’ budgets. Attention should be drawn to the need to stay within the limits of budgetary economy.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) began saying that the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda had played a significant role in fighting impunity and promoting the rule of law. They had also shown that genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious crimes could not be tolerated and that perpetrators of such atrocities must face retribution.
As host State of the Rwanda Tribunal, the United Republic of Tanzania had performed its inherent obligation in ensuring the smooth running of the court’s activities, which included issuing visas and permits, processing tax exemptions, ensuring the security of the court and its staff. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to continue discharging its duties as the host State of the Tribunal to its completion.
He expressed concern about the challenges the Rwanda Tribunal faced regarding relocation to third States of acquitted persons, as well as convicted persons, to serve their sentences. He called for Member States to cooperate with the court by assisting in the arrest and transfer of fugitives that were on their territory so that justice could take its course.
He said the tribunal was implementing its completion strategy and thus the issue of maintaining archives was an important residual function. The United Republic of Tanzania was ready to continue hosting the archives. He believed the infrastructure already in place in Arusha was an ideal location to keep the records “as an important historical learning institution for the benefit of our future generations”.
* *** *For information media • not an official record