|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
27th Meeting (AM)
Top Officials from United Nations War Crimes Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia,
Rwanda, Appeal to Assembly for Resources, Help with Staffing Woes
Pressed to conclude their work over the next two years, top officials from the United Nations 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, especially, incentives to help attract and hold onto qualified staff.
In their annual reports to the Assembly, Judge Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Judge Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia, said that while they were preparing their respective courts for closure, questions lingered about unfinished business that included trials, pursuit of fugitive indictees and processes to transfer cases to national jurisdictions.
Both officials warned that staffing woes were the main stumbling block in wrapping up their work in line with the Security Council-mandated completion strategy. The Tribunals were losing many of their best workers “at an alarming rate” — often to other United Nations offices or organizations in the same field where they could obtain longer-term contracts — and with them went much of the courts’ institutional memory. Such departures, which caused work delays and negatively impacted morale, could not be replaced easily, the judges agreed.
The Rwanda Tribunal had made significant progress towards the completion of its mandate, said Mr. Byron, adding that judgement delivery in all of the ongoing or commencing cases at trial level was expected before the end of 2011. Among the Tribunal’s recent successes was the arrest and transfer in July 2010 of one of the most-wanted accused, Jean Bosco Uwinkindi, with essential cooperation from Ugandan authorities.
The Tribunal was engaged in intensive work to establish a smooth transition to a residual mechanism in The Hague, and although the court was downsizing, Mr. Byron said, the Tribunal could not complete its mandate unless the 10 remaining fugitive indictees were arrested. “And we must not give the fatal signal to alleged perpetrators that their successful hiding for 16 years will ultimately be rewarded with impunity,” he said.
As for the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Mr. Robinson said the final case should finish at the end of 2013, but the commitment to completion dates remained a great challenge. For example, he said, the recent discovery of 18 military notebooks belonging to top fugitive Ratko Mladić would delay work on the ongoing trials for a minimum of three months. Delays in a court of law were inevitable, he added, and judges were entitled to work in an environment free from external pressures.
Mr. Robinson said that while the Tribunal wrapped up its work, a trust fund for victims from the former Yugoslavia should be established. Member States should also reflect on the Tribunal’s remarkable achievements, he said, as it was not long ago that international criminal justice had been “but a dream in the minds of those striving for a safer and more just world”. The Tribunal had demonstrated to the international community that humanitarian law is enforceable, he said.
Speaking after their presentations, the representative of the Russian Federation said the Tribunals had made enduring contributions to international criminal justice, but had done a disservice to the international community by exceeding their deadlines. Deadlines for both courts were longer than those that had been provided in 2009 and had since been increased. The Russian Federation’s position remained unchanged — extension beyond 2010 was an exceptional measure.
To help the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia complete its work, Serbia’s delegate said, his country had placed particular importance on locating and arresting former Serbian army chief Ratko Mladić. There should be no doubt of Serbian authorities’ resolve to fully cooperate with the Tribunal, he said, as it was essential to establish the whole truth about the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and an important step towards normalization of the societies in the region.
Rwanda’s representative said his country continued to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, but regretted the delay in the conclusion of its work. He also hailed the arrest of the three new fugitives and thanked the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda for their aid, but regretted that some countries had not cooperated, and appealed for them to do so. He expressed concern at the increasing trend in academia and among jurists to openly deny the genocide, an atrocity recognized by the Security Council with the establishment of the Rwanda Tribunal. Those jurists had a mistaken interpretation of the Tribunal’s findings, he said.
Kenya’s representative noted concern over persistent allegations by the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal that the fugitive Félicien Kabuga resided in his country, and called them “misleading, malicious and lacking in merit”. Joint investigations in Kenya with the Tribunal on alleged sightings of the suspect had yielded no concrete results thus far. The team of investigators continued to carry out their work with the full support of the Government, but he urged the Tribunal’s Prosecutor and international agencies to widen the search for Kabuga to other jurisdictions.
In other business today, the Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: requests under Article 19 of the Charter” (document A/65/492).
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 that those countries “shall be permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of its sixty-fifth session”.
In addition, Assembly Vice-President Anatolio Ndong Mba ( Equatorial Guinea) informed delegates that the meeting devoted to the follow-up to the International Year of Microcredit, originally slated for Monday, 11 October, had been rescheduled to Wednesday, 13 October.
Also speaking today were the representatives of United Republic of Tanzania, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Republic of Korea, Ghana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Croatia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 October to elect five non-permanent members of the Security Council.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the annual reports on the work of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. On 16 December 2009, the Security Council extended the completion strategy for both courts, giving them until 2012 to finish all cases.
The Assembly had before it the annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/65/188), covering the 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 period, which says that progress had been made towards achieving the Tribunal’s completion strategy. Seven judgements in single-accused cases were delivered and 10 new trials begun. In eight of them, evidence was completed, and in five, judgement delivered. At the trial level, judgement delivery in the 12 cases involving 24 accused was expected before the end of 2011.
With close cooperation among Member States, three fugitives had been arrested in the region, the report says; however, more must be done to ensure the arrest of the 10 remaining fugitives, notably the three high-ranking accused who were earmarked for trial in Arusha but had escaped justice for 16 years: Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana. “Their ongoing impunity is not a situation which can be accepted by the international community,” Tribunal President Dennis Byron (Saint Kitts and Nevis) stresses in the report. States also must cooperate in the relocation of three acquitted persons who remained under the Tribunal’s protection.
Overall, the report says that the organs of the Tribunal were undertaking their best efforts to complete the court’s work expeditiously and to prepare for a smooth transition to the residual mechanism. Maintaining experienced staff was a key challenge, and Judge Byron requested the necessary resources to deliver justice to the victims of heinous crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994. Indeed, during the reporting period, a total of 167 staff members left the Tribunal for more stable jobs within the United Nations and other organizations. The replacement of departing staff is a lengthy process, which, even in the best case scenario, would result in delays and cannot compensate for the continuous loss of institutional memory.
In the seventeenth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/65/205), covering the 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010 period, Tribunal President Patrick Robinson ( Jamaica) says work focused on the completion of all trials and appeals. The Appeals Chamber delivered three judgements, while the Trial Chambers delivered judgement in the Prosecutor v. Popović et al case. At the close of the reporting period, 14 persons were in appeal proceedings, 18 were on trial, and three accused were at the pretrial stage.
Two accused -– Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić -– remained at large. On 15 October 2009, the Prosecutor severed the Mladić indictment from the Radovan Karadžić indictment and streamlined it, the report says. The updated indictment, presented to the confirming judge on 10 May 2010, would allow the case against Mladić to proceed more efficiently when he is arrested and tried.
Generally, the Tribunal’s organs faced significant challenges in meeting the goals of the completion strategy due to the “devastating” impact of staff attrition. On 29 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 1931 (2010), calling on the United Nations Secretariat, among others, to work with the Registrar to find solutions. To date, the Tribunal had concluded proceedings against 126 of the 161 persons indicted. .
Action on Draft
The General Assembly began the day by adopting, without a vote, a resolution recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: requests under Article 19 of the Charter” (document A/65/492).
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 that those countries “shall be permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of its sixty-fifth session”.
[Under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.]
DENNIS BYRON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said he was pleased to report significant progress in the completion of the court’s mandate. The Chambers had rendered several trial and four appeals judgements between the reporting period of July 2009 and June 2010, and an additional trial judgement had been delivered in August. Three more trial and up to four more appeals judgements were expected before the end of the year, he said, and judgement delivery in all of the ongoing or commencing cases at trial level was expected before the end of 2011.
The workload of all judges remained high and was equally shared among the 5 permanent and 11 ad litem (ad hoc) judges, but it was a major concern that terms and conditions for the two categories of judges remained unequal. Work of the ad hoc judges was indispensable for the successful and timely completion of the court’s work. He welcomed that the matter of different pension rights between the two categories of judges would soon go before the Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), and asked delegates and their countries for support for equity.
The Tribunal faced one main stumbling block in the staffing situation: it was losing many of its best workers — often to other institutions in the same field where they could obtain longer-term contracts. Over the reporting period, 167 staff members had left the Tribunal, he said, including coordinators for three of the four multi-accused cases in the last few months, just a couple of months ahead of the expected judgement delivery. Those departures, which had resulted in delays in the judgement drafting process, could not be replaced easily. Since the Tribunal could only offer temporary contracts, it faced difficulty attracting good candidates, and remaining staff faced uncertain professional futures, which affected morale and productivity.
Despite such obstacles, he said, Chief Prosecutor Hassan Jallow and his Office had successfully handled a high workload. One fugitive, Jean Bosco Uwinkindi, had been arrested in Uganda on 1 July 2010 and transferred to the Tribunal two days later. That was once again an example of successful cooperation with Uganda. Uwinkindi’s case had been earmarked for referral to national jurisdiction, he said, and the Prosecutor and Registrar continued to provide grounds for such referrals in the future. Support activities by the Tribunal continued to further strengthen the Rwandan judiciary, with particular respect to witness protection.
There were currently 10 remaining fugitives, but that number included three of the most highly ranked accused to be tried before the Tribunal: Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana. All States, especially those in the Great Lakes region — in particular Kenya — should intensify cooperation with the Tribunal so the arrest of those suspects could be ensured as soon as possible. Over 16 years had passed since the horrendous crimes had been committed. “We cannot wait any longer for justice to be done,” he declared, adding that the court could not complete its mandate unless those indictees were arrested. “And we must not give the fatal signal to alleged perpetrators that their successful hiding for 16 years will ultimately be rewarded with impunity.”
State cooperation remained indispensable to the Tribunal’s work, he continued. The Registrar had worked with 40 different States on a variety of matters, including enforcement of sentences, while the Office of the Prosecutor had responded to 114 requests for mutual legal assistance from 13 different national prosecuting authorities regarding 58 persons. Requests for the Prosecutor’s Office to research evidence or assist in locating potential witnesses continued to increase, and would bear the burden of continuing the fight against impunity after the Tribunal closed down. The Tribunal had to ensure that essential support mechanism would continue.
Although the Tribunal faced some delays that required a certain adjustment to the budget, mostly due to the staffing situation and additional workload through new arrests, there was significant progress, and the downsizing process was ongoing. He was convinced, therefore, that the Tribunal had earned the trust to be provided necessary resources to complete its mandate. While the Security Council discussed the structure and functioning of a residual mechanism in The Hague, the Tribunal would continue to work intensely. A resolution on that matter in the near future would help the court’s officials prepare for a smooth transition to such a mechanism.
Meanwhile, he said, the Tribunal would work to see that it would be equipped to take over the remaining tasks without difficulty. Such preparatory work was time and resource intensive, especially with respect to the Tribunal’s archives. Those papers would document the Tribunal’s legacy and would form part of the historical memory for Rwanda, the wider Great Lakes region and the entire international community. “You have walked this path with us for over 15 years, and we need your support in the last laps of this journey, in the interest of the victims and of international justice,” he said.
PATRICK ROBINSON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia, said that, despite having faced unprecedented challenges, the Tribunal had achieved extraordinary progress in implementation of its completion strategy. During the reporting period, 10 trials had been conducted simultaneously in the Tribunal’s three courtrooms, and the second of the Tribunal’s three multi-accused trials, Prosecutor v. Popovic et al., had been brought to a close. The court had conducted proceedings in the 10 trials concurrently by “doubling-up” judges and staff, and also handled three contempt cases, disposing of two.
Currently, nine trials were ongoing and one case that had been returned to pretrial stage was expected to begin in 2011, he continued. Judgements were expected in two trials in the next two months, and two cases would conclude in 2010. The final case should be completed at the end of 2013. In total, the Tribunal had completed proceedings in relation to 126 persons, with 13 cases remaining.
He said upholding the Tribunal’s commitment to completion dates remained a great challenge. While the court continued to take all measures to expedite its trials without sacrificing due process, he underscored that the trial schedule was a “forecast only”, and that many things that might influence the time frame, including witness intimidation and staff attrition, among other factors, were not in its control.
For example, he said, the recent discovery of 18 military notebooks belonging to Ratko Mladić would delay the ongoing trials for a minimum of three months. In addition, assessments made before a trial were often “guesstimates”, which made estimating the length of a proceeding more an “art than a science”. Delays in a court of law were inevitable, he added, and judges were entitled to work in an environment free from external pressures. To that end, motions were filed by the parties accusing the judges of taking decisions for the sole purpose of expediting the proceedings.
Another important matter was the ability of the Tribunal to retain its staff. Experienced employees continued to depart at an alarming rate, he said, noting a 21 per cent attrition rate in the chambers alone. While the Assembly’s adoption of resolution 63/256, which authorized the Tribunal to offer contracts to staff in line with planned post reductions and ongoing trials, had offered a ray of hope, it had not been implemented by the Secretariat. In that regard, he was grateful for the Security Council’s response to his desperate plea for assistance with its adoption of resolution 1931 (2010), which noted the importance of adequate staffing and called upon the Secretariat and other relevant bodies to continue to help find solutions as the Tribunal approached the completion of its work.
He called for the establishment of a trust fund for victims from the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, the example set by the International Criminal Court and the acceptance of 113 States parties to the Rome Statute of the establishment of such a victims’ fund had proved that justice must not be merely retributive but also restorative in order for peace to last. He called the absence of such a mechanism in the case of victims from the former Yugoslavia “a travesty” that must end.
Finally, he reaffirmed the Tribunal’s steadfast commitment to the completion strategy and called on Member States to reflect on the Tribunal’s remarkable achievements. It was not long ago that international criminal justice had been “but a dream in the minds of those striving for a safer and more just world”, he recalled. The Tribunal had demonstrated to the international community that humanitarian law was enforceable, that it bound the conduct of the most senior State officials, and that the rule of law was a living, breathing reality that formed part of the fabric of our civilization.
SEIF IDDI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that, as host country for the Rwanda Tribunal, his country would continue to facilitate its smooth operation as it headed towards conclusion of its mandate. He noted with concern, however, the Tribunals’ difficult staffing situation, and he urged the Assembly to pronounce itself on the matter. In regard to the shortage of countries that had volunteered to take convicted prisoners, he appealed to Member States to consider accepting what he called a “noble responsibility”.
He also called on Member States to continue to cooperate in the search for all fugitives from both Tribunals so they could face justice, and in doing so, help prevent impunity and send a strong message to perpetrators of heinous crimes. Affirming that State cooperation was the cornerstone of the Tribunals’ ability to complete their mandates, he urged Member States to also cooperate on matters of acquitted persons and to continue to provide the resources necessary to complete the Tribunals’ work in the intended time frame.
Sensitive records of the Rwanda Tribunal, he said, should continue to be kept in a safe and stable environment accessible to authorized persons without undue complications. His country was ready and willing to continue to host the residual mechanism and the archives with the same dedication and commitment as it had done throughout the operation of the Tribunal, he pledged, adding that the infrastructure already in place was suitable to maintain the records of the Tribunal as an important learning institution for the benefit of future generations. In regard to that issue and other challenges, the United Republic of Tanzania hoped to be able to offer a helping hand as it had always done.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed “unwavering” support for the Tribunals, saying they had played key roles in strengthening the rule of law and promoting long-term stability and reconciliation in the Balkans and Rwanda. Since their establishment, both had embodied the need to fight impunity and refusal to allow perpetrators of the most serious crimes to escape justice — true forerunners in the creation of jurisprudence that had inspired national and international jurisdictions alike. States’ cooperation was the cornerstone of the Tribunals’ ability to complete their mandates, and he commended cooperation by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda in the arrest and transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of Gregoire Ndahimana, Idelphonse Nizeyimana and Jean-Bosco Uwinkindi.
Twelve accused individuals remained at large, he said, two of whom had been indicted by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and ten by the Rwanda Tribunal. “The failure to arrest [them] remains a matter of grave concern to the European Union,” he stressed, calling on relevant States to intensify efforts to ensure the surrender of Ratko Mladić, Goran Hadžić and Félicien Kabuga. Cooperation by Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had generally been adequate. He urged all States to cooperate immediately and unconditionally with both Tribunals, in line with their obligations under Security Council resolutions regarding the arrest and surrender of remaining fugitives and the transfer of documents requested by the Prosecutor. Such cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was crucial in relation to the European Union stabilization and association process.
He regretted that Kenya’s cooperation with the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal was a major challenge and called on Kenyan authorities to engage in further discussions with the Prosecutor — as had been offered by the Kenyan delegate in the 18 June Security Council debate — on the whereabouts of Félicien Kabuga. He welcomed Rwanda’s efforts to strengthen its legal system, expressing hope that such reforms would allow the Tribunal to transfer cases of lower-level accused to the Rwandan courts for trial. He confirmed the Union’s commitment to support the strengthening of the Rwandan judiciary’s capacity.
He further regretted there had been “slippage” in the completion timelines of the Tribunals, due, in part, to the late capture and transfer of fugitives. The completion of work should be done in an orderly manner and not affect the quality of their adjudication and due process. While acknowledging the importance of adequate resources and staff, it also was important to use resources as efficiently as possible. The European Union stood ready to work with the Security Council to find the most appropriate solutions to the issues of legacy and residual functions.
SUE ROBERTSON ( Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the Tribunals had made an unprecedented contribution to the goal of ending impunity for serious international crimes. “Their jurisprudence has enriched our understanding of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the practice and procedures of international criminal law,” she said. Through their outreach, they had fostered reconciliation and shown that peace and justice could be pursued in tandem. Noting concern at the fugitive status of 12 respective indictees, she said it was imperative that all of them be surrendered and that States make special efforts to ensure that high-level indictees Ratko Mladić, Goran Hadžić, Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana faced trial. Decisive and intensified action by the relevant authorities was critical.
It was equally important that the global community respond to the Tribunals’ calls for assistance in developing creative approaches to retain staff. Both Tribunals were being asked to undertake an “ever more onerous” workload while losing experienced personnel at an “alarming rate”, as staff sought out positions with greater job security, and she expressed hope that the United Nations would continue to work with the Registrars to find practical solutions. It had long been understood that some activities — such as the trial of subsequently captured fugitives, sentence enforcement, witness protection and provision of assistance to national authorities — must continue after the completion of the Tribunals’ mandates.
She welcomed the Tribunals’ efforts in that regard, as well as those undertaken by Rwanda in addressing impediments to the referral of cases to that country by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Noting recommendations by the Security Council’s informal working group on international tribunals related to the creation of a mechanism for carrying out the residual functions of both courts, she encouraged ongoing discussion of that issue, as the eventual outcome would greatly assist planning related to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The successful completion of the Tribunals’ work would require cooperation from all States, and she called for giving practical effect to the commitment to an effective international justice system.
SHIN BOONAM ( Republic of Korea) said the Tribunals were a part of a larger, ongoing movement to align international law with humankind’s moral sense to ensure that justice reached every corner of the world. Their legacy should continue to resonate long after their offices had closed. That legacy was threefold. Firstly, on a technical level, the Tribunals had built the foundations for the development of international criminal law; they had both left such valuable legal assets as rules of procedure, practices and judgements. Secondly, they had sown the seeds for the creation of other international and hybrid criminal courts around the world, setting the standard for the principle of complementarity. Thirdly, they had done much to provide a sense of justice and reconciliation to victims and to society at large, he said, adding that “only when we make all men answerable to the law can we cast away tyranny and violence”.
He asked how that legacy could be secured, and said the completion strategy of the two Tribunals and the subsequent residual mechanisms would be the “mortar” for that effort. While the Security Council’s Internal Working Group on Tribunals determined the form and structure of residual functions, it was imperative to relate that initiative to a greater context, he added. The courts should intensify their efforts to refer cases to national jurisdictions, thus strengthening domestic courts and spurring legal reform. Experienced staff from the Tribunals could meanwhile provide institutional knowledge and experience. A good place to start could be the creation of a separate regime to govern the management of archives, including confidential information, to which national judges, prosecutors and lawyers would have easy access.
Several high-level fugitives remain at large, he said. That was a difficult issue. As individuals, their fate might seem inconsequential to the world, but for the communities affected, they were living symbols of atrocity, oppression and cruelty — “the darkest forces that demoralized a society”. All States must intensify cooperation with the Tribunals so as to achieve the arrests of those fugitives; a culture of impunity could not be allowed to give strength to sinister forces. The work of the Tribunals had been pivotal, and the Republic of Korea, which would always be a vocal supporter of the movement for international justice, looked forward to their smooth and efficient drawing down.
EBENEZER APPREKU ( Ghana) said the jurisprudence put forward by both Tribunals had contributed to the strengthening of the international legal criminal justice regime. Dialogue with other courts, including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, would help address concerns about the fragmentation of international criminal law. Welcoming initiatives to build the Tribunals’ archival records to guide future behaviour of States, he said a more durable legacy would be to draw lessons from the Tribunals’ cases to enhance State capacity to take preventive action, stressing that victims must continue to receive attention after the Tribunals completed their work. Addressing the various resource challenges also deserved careful consideration.
The need for prevention could not be overemphasized, he said, noting that following wars in Africa — notably West Africa — during the 1980s and 1990s, countries had resolved to take a more proactive stance towards prevention, and to take timely action when preventive measures failed. Also expressed was the need to intervene, at the request of any State, in situations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The African standing forces arrangement needed international support to ensure that those forces were rapidly deployable for decisive action on the continent, in line with the United Nations Charter. African countries had joined consensus in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, when world leaders agreed to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Recalling what had led to the Tribunals’ creation, he underscored the need to address ethnic and racial issues, with a view to ending mass atrocities. With that in mind, Ghana had hosted a side event in a cross-regional endeavour to explore ways to make operational the concept of “responsibility to protect”. Earlier this year, Ghana had invited the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Genocide to address the root causes of conflict. Commending the Tribunals’ outreach programmes aimed at educating young people, he said the United Nations had answered the call in the Kigali Declaration to declare annually 7 April as a day of remembrance of the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Should mass atrocities occur again, the global community must be ready to take appropriate action in a more timely and decisive manner than it had in the past.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the hasty closure of the Tribunals could irrevocably tarnish their legacy, one that represented a milestone on which the international criminal justice system was based. She strongly agreed with the Secretary-General’s 2008 remarks that the fight against impunity had begun in earnest with the Tribunals’ establishment. Indeed, the courts had pioneered the emergence of international criminal justice and enforcement of international humanitarian law. In that context, she urged that their groundbreaking contributions to international jurisprudence not succumb to the pressure of ending their mandates with only partial results.
Turning to the work of the Rwanda Tribunal, she said that while it was encouraging that three fugitives had been arrested during the reporting period, it was disappointing that Félicien Kabuga, as well as Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, indicted by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, had managed to evade justice and “mock the international community”. While States could appeal to the Tribunals to fulfil their completion strategies, all such efforts would be useless until serious measures were taken to bring those criminals to justice. “Only then can we say that every condition from their respective founding resolutions has been met and their given mandates fulfilled,” she stressed, urging the unconditional cooperation of relevant global and regional organizations and States.
Underscoring her country’s strong commitment to its obligations, she said a record of steady and positive cooperation with the Tribunal reflected that attitude, as the current and previous reports had noted. Bosnia and Herzegovina had effectively responded to all requests by the Prosecutor, providing documents, enabling unobstructed access to Government archives and facilitating the appearance of witnesses before the Tribunal. Such cooperation had been especially constructive vis-à-vis the so–called “11 bis cases”, or those transferred under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence by the Prosecutor to the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Reaffirming support for both Tribunals, she said her country — most affected by the crimes under the jurisdiction of one Tribunal — could not emphasize enough how important it was to bring justice to victims and hold accountable the perpetrators of those heinous crimes.
IGOR A. PANIN ( Russian Federation), outlining his Government’s commitment to the dispensation of justice to perpetrators of the most severe crimes, recognized the Tribunals’ contribution to international criminal justice, which held enduring significance. Those still at large “must stand up before justice”, and the Russian Federation supported the Tribunals’ efforts to deal with that challenge. Each year, his Government had reiterated that a negative aspect was at play in the work of the Tribunals that devalued other positive aspects; they had exceeded their deadlines, which conflicted with Security Council resolutions on their completion strategies. That did a disservice to the international community, and the Russian Federation would work to resolve that matter.
The prospects for completion “left little room for optimism”, he said, noting that the Rwanda Tribunal had planned to close cases in the trial phase by 2011 and appeals work by 2013. The Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had planned to close its trial phase in 2012. Those deadlines were longer than those that had been provided in 2009 and had since been increased. While the extended deadlines were not likely final, the Rwanda Tribunal had fared better with more accurate forecasting. The Russian Federation’s position remained unchanged — extension beyond 2010 was an exceptional measure.
He agreed that the Tribunals could not close their business quickly. When the Security Council had set the completion strategies for 2010, his Government had understood why some trials had dragged on, notably the Šešelj case before the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, or the Haradinaj case, in which a decision had been made to start a partial retrial. There were differences between the ad hoc and full-time courts, but he was convinced that such factors did not mean deadlines could be significantly extended. The situation had been permitted through the fault of both the Tribunals and States. The problems of extension could be managed through efforts by the Tribunals, States, the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Turning to the Tribunals’ work, he welcomed efforts to speed litigation and make rational use of both court space and staff for simultaneous trials. It was unacceptable that the defendant in the Šešelj case had waited some six years — a situation that “exceeded elementary human concepts”. Examples of success included the Popović case, which supported workloads of both the prosecution and the defence. He agreed that a similar speed could be seen in other cases. He called on States to help in the search for individuals still at large. His Government also supported Rwanda taking on some of the Arusha-based Tribunal’s cases, which was a testament to its national establishment of the rule of law.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ ( Serbia) reiterated his country’s full commitment to cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and its successful completion. Its political will had been demonstrated by the fact that on 31 March, Serbia’s National Assembly had adopted a declaration condemning the crimes at Srebrenica, giving full support to Government agencies processing war crimes and placing particular importance on locating and arresting former Serbian army chief Ratko Mladić so he could face trial and the Tribunal. A very high level of cooperation between Serbian Government agencies and the Tribunal had been reached and maintained over the last several years, he said.
Serbia had responded in full to almost all Tribunal requests for documentation, access to Government archives, provision of waivers for testimony in proceedings and all other technical aspects of cooperation. He said it was exceptionally important that the report of the President of the Tribunal noted that the items seized during the Government’s February 2010 search of the apartment of Ratko Mladić’s family, including his handwritten wartime notes, had been delivered to the Tribunal by Serbia and that they contained highly valuable evidence. Serbia had transferred 43 persons indicted for war crimes to the Tribunal, and Mladić and Hadzić were the only remaining fugitives.
There should be no doubt of Serbian authorities’ resolve to arrest Mladić and Hadzić and transfer them to the Tribunal, he said. Serbia considered bringing those two fugitives to justice in its best interest and was well aware of the suggestions and concerns regarding the pair. Serbia’s security services were open to all recommendations and suggestions by officials of the Tribunal, and considered it very important that the Office of the Prosecutor was provided detailed information about all measures being taken to find the two men. Cooperation with the Tribunal and processing of war crimes in national courts was essential to establish the whole truth about the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and an important step towards normalization of the societies in the region.
MORTEN WETLAND (Norway), declaring his country a staunch supporter of the Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, said the two courts had made important contributions to international criminal law as they had developed a jurisprudence that set standards for national courts, as well as for other international tribunals. By effectively prosecuting the perpetrators of the most serious international crimes, the Tribunals had not only helped bring justice to victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, they had also made significant achievements in the fight against impunity for mass atrocities in general.
Noting that both Tribunals were working hard to fulfil their mandates, he commended them for their commitment to implementing their completion strategies, while ensuring that standards of due process and fundamental legal principles were fully respected. He urged them to continue to carry out their work expeditiously and called on Member States to provide their full support, without which the Tribunals would not succeed in fulfilling their mandates. In that regard, all States had to honour their obligations to provide full and effective assistance.
Highlighting the challenges of enforcing sentences and arresting the remaining fugitives, he said the failure to arrest remaining fugitives continued to be of grave concern to Norway. Also, the responsibility to enforce sentences needed to be shared by more States. It was not acceptable that perpetrators of serious international crimes were evading legal proceedings, he said, and called on Member States to fulfil their obligation to arrest and transfer them to the Tribunals without delay. Concluding, he noted the importance of the continuation of residual activities of the Tribunals as part of their long-term legacy, which was important for their legitimacy in international criminal law in general.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) said his Government continued to cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal, notably by facilitating access to witnesses for the defence and prosecution, supporting witness protection services and providing evidence needed for holding trials. While Rwanda continued to support the completion strategy, his Government regretted the delay in the Tribunal’s conclusion of its work, as outlined in Security Council resolution 1503 (2003), and took note of the 2011 date set for its trial work and the 2013 deadline for its appeals cases.
His Government would continue to cooperate in removing any obstacles to transferring pending cases to Rwandan jurisdiction, he explained. Moreover, legal and penal reforms had been undertaken, and he thanked the Tribunal for transferring the files of 25 suspects. The request to transfer the files of those not yet tried by the Tribunal had stemmed from the fact that crimes had been committed by Rwandans, with evidence and witnesses from Rwanda.
Hailing the arrest of the three new fugitives, he thanked the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda for their cooperation, as well as the Rwanda Tribunal for seeking to arrest the remaining 10 fugitives, and Canada, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and France for their efforts to find genocide suspects in their territories. He regretted that some countries had not cooperated and appealed to them to do so. His Government had often reiterated its view on the transfer of Tribunal records to Rwanda. Those records were essential for preserving the memory of genocide and ensuring its prevention.
He expressed concern at the increasing trend in academia and among jurists to openly deny genocide, an atrocity recognized by the Security Council with the establishment of the Rwanda Tribunal. Those jurists had a mistaken interpretation of the Tribunal’s findings. That worrisome trend would not encourage peace and reconciliation, he said, calling again for those deniers of the Tutsi genocide to be brought before justice. With that, he renewed Rwanda’s full support to the Tribunal for the conclusion of its work.
S.K. MAINA ( Kenya) noted concern over persistent allegations by the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal that the fugitive Félicien Kabuga resided in Kenya. On numerous occasions, Kenya had stated its position on the matter before the Security Council and the General Assembly. Kenya had nothing to gain by harbouring the suspect, he said, especially when it had always enjoyed excellent and cordial relations with Rwanda. On the contrary, Kenya had always worked closely with the Tribunal to arrest genocide suspects so they could face justice. The Government had arrested 14 suspects and handed them over to the Tribunal for prosecution, the largest number of indictees to be apprehended and handed over to the court by a single jurisdiction, he added.
In September 2009, Rwanda and Kenya had concluded an extradition treaty which provided for the extradition of Rwandan genocide suspects. The Government had also played a key role in the relocation and protection of Tribunal witnesses, and in 2007, had formed a joint investigation team to apprehend Félicien Kabuga and trace his assets, as well as those of his associates. The team had found that his wife had been profiting from real estate investments and transferring funds to her bank account in Belgium, where she resided with their children and held Belgian passports. Kenya’s Attorney General had promptly obtained orders to freeze her bank accounts in Kenya.
Joint investigations with the Tribunal on alleged sightings of Félicien Kabuga in Kenya had yielded no concrete results thus far, but the Team continued to carry out its work with the full support of the Government. Kenya therefore found persistent allegations of complacency in arresting that fugitive as “misleading, malicious and lacking in merit”. In that regard, he urged the Tribunal’s Prosecutor and international agencies to widen the search of Félicien Kabuga to other jurisdictions.
RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia) said the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s determined performance at the steadfast prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide was a staunch reminder that severe crimes, regardless of who committed them, would not go unpunished. In that regard, Croatia welcomed the Tribunal’s commitment to complete its strategy without sacrificing due process, and supported endeavours to streamline the court’s core functions in order to expedite its proceedings.
International ad hoc tribunals, he said, were never meant to replace national judiciary. In that light, Croatia supported the call for the Tribunal to transfer all appropriate cases to competent national jurisdictions, noting that his country had clearly demonstrated its ability to conduct trials, even in the most sensitive cases. Further, Croatia remained committed to full and open cooperation with the Tribunal, and had taken concrete administrative, investigative and judicial measures in order to meet the Office of the Prosecutor’s requests.
On another matter, he remained deeply concerned that Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadzić had evaded justice “for too long”. Failure to prosecute them would “leave a stain” on the contribution of United Nations peacebuilding in the former Yugoslavia, he said. In that regard, Croatia welcomed further cooperation, including the “liaison prosecutors” project funded by the European Union, which would allow regional prosecutors to work within the Office of the Tribunal’s Chief Prosecutor, and also expressed satisfaction with Judge Robinson’s visit to Croatia. In closing, he said Croatia welcomed the work on residual issues by the Security Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, and would stand ready to lend its full support to those efforts.
* *** *For information media • not an official record