|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6977th Meeting (AM)
Hague Branch of Global Mechanism to Assume Former Yugoslavia
Tribunal Functions, Security Council Told
States Urge Full International Cooperation
To Apprehend Fugitives, Ensure Accountability for Atrocities
The Hague branch of the new global residual mechanism for criminal tribunals tasked with prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1990s Balkans wars and the 1994 Rwanda genocide was set to assume the functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 1 July, as scheduled, the President of both of those bodies assured the Security Council this afternoon.
Theodor Meron, President of both the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, told the meeting that all arrangements were in place for a seamless transfer, in line with Council resolution 1966 (2010). Once open, the Mechanism would, among other things, assume responsibility for enforcing sentences, aiding national jurisdictions and protecting victims and witnesses in the Tribunal’s completed trials.
Despite administrative challenges, language barriers between the accused and witnesses, and difficulty in retaining judicial staff, he said that the Tribunal was making progress to complete pending judicial work. To that end, a consolidated, comprehensive plan of processes and procedures for the Tribunal’s eventual closure had been devised. Further, only four trials on the core statutory crimes remained to be completed. Three of them involved former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, former Croatian Serb President Goran Hadžić and former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić — who had been arrested late. The Karadžićcase should be completed by July 2015.
Mr. Meron was joined by the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, along with both tribunals’ prosecutors to brief the Council on the status of their respective courts’ completion strategies as of mid-May.
Serge Brammetz, Prosecutor of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, said that, despite the “rising crescendo of debate” about that court, the Tribunal remained focused on successfully completing its last cases. Efficiency techniques had minimized the amount of court time used, and good cooperation from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on access to documents and witnesses had helped the prosecution along.
However, he said he was disturbed by obstacles to implement national war crimes strategies in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conclusion of regional cooperation protocols for war crimes prosecutions — one between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the other between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina — was a “step in the right direction”, but political leaders must take more correction action.
Serbia’s efforts to establish accountability for those who aided fugitives to evade justice should be finalized promptly, he stressed, and authorities in the region must urgently refocus on locating missing persons, regardless of their ethnicity. “As we enter the ICTY’s twenty-first year of operation, the thousands who survived crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia should be foremost in our minds,” he said.
Vagn Joensen, Judge and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, reported that his institution had completed all its trial work and met all deadlines projected in December 2012 for appeals. Five of the six remaining appeal cases were on track for completion before the end of 2014, and the full transfer to the Mechanism of judicial records not in active use was expected by year’s end. Still, the relocation of acquitted persons and those released after completing their sentences remained a pressing concern, he said, imploring Member States to assist with relocation.
Hassan Jallow, Prosecutor of both the Rwanda Tribunal and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said the Arusha branch of the Mechanism was taking steps to shore up public interest and participation to help his office track the three top fugitives that remained at large — Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana. He called on all States to cooperate towards that end, and said ongoing contact would continue with Kenya, Zimbabwe and other States of the Great Lakes region.
In the past six months, he said, the Arusha branch had addressed 26 requests from seven Member States for help with ongoing national investigations or prosecutions, including of people accused of participating in the Rwanda genocide. That would help significantly close the gaps in the struggle against impunity. The cooperation of all Member States was vital in that struggle, he said, praising the United States’ War Crimes Rewards Programme and its promise, made yesterday, to continue to track the remaining fugitives.
Following those presentations, Council members and concerned States voiced praise for the tribunals’ work and efforts to fulfil their completion strategies. Delegates welcomed the upcoming commencement of the Residual Mechanism’s Hague branch. They also stressed the need for all States to cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal to bring the remaining nine fugitives at large to justice and to offer a home to those persons who had been acquitted or had already served their sentences.
The representative of Rwanda echoed delegates’ concern over the nine fugitives at large, and faulted that Tribunal for not fully living up to the trust Rwandans had invested in it. Despite its multi-billion-dollar budget, the Tribunal had only processed cases of 17 suspects, and in the past month, its Appeals Chamber had acquitted members of the Government, some of whom had been heavily sentenced in the first instance. As well, the Tribunal’s archives and records must be transferred to Rwanda upon completion of the Residual Mechanism’s work, so Rwandans could easily access them. Such transparency was important to guard against genocide denying and revisionism.
Nikola Selaković, Serbia’s Minister for Justice and Public Administration, pointed to his country’s “continued and undivided” cooperation with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. By July 2011, it had finalized all cooperation activities related to indictees transferred to that body. Also in 2011, Serbia had signed an agreement with the Tribunal by which those sentenced by that court of the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide might serve their sentences in Serbia. His country fully accepted international supervision of those serving out such sentences, he stated, stressing that those convicted would not be paroled without a requisite decision by the Tribunal or other relevant legal body.
Similarly, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s representative defended her nation’s capacity to process war crimes fairly and in line with national and global standards. Still, she acknowledged that more efforts were needed to speed up the pace of processing cases. As the tribunals were headed for closure, States in the region must continue to work towards a common goal of investigating, prosecuting and punishing perpetrators. The Protocol on the exchange of evidence and information on war crime, recently signed between her country and Croatia, would strengthen communication and coordination towards that end.
The representatives of Guatemala, Republic of Korea, United States, Pakistan, Luxembourg, France, Australia, Morocco, Russian Federation, China, Togo, Argentina, United Kingdom, Croatia, Liechtenstein and the Netherlands also spoke.
A representative of the European Union delegation also made a statement.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hold its semi-annual debate on the ad hoc international tribunals and to consider several letters. Those included: a letter dated 23 May from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991, addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2013/308); a letter dated 23 May from the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2013/309); and a letter dated 23 May from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2013/310).
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, discussed the Tribunal’s progress in relation to the Completion Strategy, the ongoing work of the Mechanism, and the preparations for the launch of The Hague branch of the Mechanism in the next few weeks. Written reports on both institutions had been presented to the Council last month, and a confidential report on the Tribunal had been submitted in April in line with Council resolution 2081 (2012).
He said that, since the fall of 2012, the Tribunal had completed the trials in three cases and, since May of this year, had completed two more trials. At the end of May, trial judgements had been issued in the cases of Prlić et al. and Stanišić and Simatovic. The appeals process in two cases had been completed. Other cases on appeal were moving ahead. Only four trials on the core statutory crimes remained to be completed. Three of those trials involved the late-arrested accused Messrs. Karadžić, Hadžić and Mladić.
He estimated the Karadzic case would be completed by July 2015 due to the greater-than-expected time spent on administrative and non-testimony-related matters. The only other remaining case at trial was the Šešelj case, for which judgement was expected to be delivered on 30 October 2013. The delay was due to the departure of senior staff members, as well as the simultaneous involvement of all judges on the bench in other ongoing cases. A judgement in the Rule 98 bis appeal in the Karadzic case was anticipated by July of this year. He then cited expected completion dates for other appeals judgements.
He said he deeply regretted those delays, explaining that many of the factors leading to them were not uncommon to judicial and criminal proceedings worldwide. Compounding those difficulties was the far distance between the Tribunal and the site of the alleged crimes, as well as the fact that the language of the Tribunal differed from those of the accused and most witnesses, thus requiring constant translation. In addition, the Tribunal had the challenge of retaining highly qualified, experienced staff needed for an expeditious, orderly closure.
The Tribunal, he continued, was making all efforts to complete its pending judicial work as soon as possible. It had developed a consolidated, comprehensive plan of processes and procedures for its eventual closure. All arrangements were in place to ensure a seamless transfer of functions from the Tribunal to The Hague branch of the Mechanism on 1 July of this year, in full compliance with Council resolution 1966 (2010). Once open, the Mechanism would assume responsibility for functions inherited from the Tribunal, including the enforcement of sentences, assistance to national jurisdiction, and the protection of victims and witnesses in completed trials of the Tribunal. The Mechanism would also assume authority to hear appeals against judgements or sentences handed down by the Tribunal where the notice of appeal was filed after 1 July 2013, to try contempt cases, and to decide on requests for pardon or commutation of sentences.
From an administrative perspective, all was going well, he said. The Mechanism had issued a number of practice directions and promulgated other policies, further developing its legal and regulatory framework. Work on the Mechanism’s permanent premises in Arusha was on track and funding was in place. Regarding judicial work, since his previous report to the Council, the Mechanism had received it first appeal from judgement, in the Ngirabatware case. The Mechanism had been seized of several motions and requests related to certain contempt allegations.
In his role as President, Mr. Meron said he had issued decisions related to the enforcement of sentences and concerning a request for review of an administrative decision. Meanwhile, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda President Vagn Joensen, in his capacity as the Mechanism’s Duty Judge in Arusha, had ruled on a variety of matters. The Mechanism was also responsible for assisting global and regional organizations and bodies, and for monitoring cases referred by the tribunals to national courts for trial. Two cases had been referred by the Rwanda Tribunal to France for trial there. Pending finalization of arrangements with a global organization to help monitor those two cases, the Mechanism had made interim monitoring arrangements.
The Rwanda Tribunal, he continued, had also referred a number of cases for trial in Rwanda. Although some involved individuals who were still fugitives, in the case of Uwinkindi a trial was expected to commence later this year. Pending the finalization of monitoring arrangements, that body’s staff had been conducting interim monitoring of the ongoing pre-trial proceedings. He thanked the Rwandan authorities for their ongoing cooperation with the Mechanism. He also stated that he looked forward to building on existing relations with States in the former Yugoslavia to develop similarly productive, cooperative partnerships.
On the issue of enforcement of sentences, he expressed concern over the situation in Mali, where 17 persons, convicted by the Rwanda Tribunal and serving their sentences, were now the Mechanism’s responsibility. The Mechanism was taking steps to implement recommendations by the independent penitentiary expert whom the Registrar hired to review enforcement practices in the two countries, Mali and Benin, which were currently enforcing those sentences. The Mechanism also was looking to increase its capacity to enforce sentences in Africa and was actively taking steps to enter into agreements on enforcement of sentences with new States. He called on the Council to cooperate and demonstrate leadership in that regard.
Since the opening of its Arusha branch, he said that the Mechanism had received and addressed several requests from national authorities to help national investigations, prosecutions and trials of individuals charged in relation to the genocide in Rwanda. The Mechanism would assume similar responsibility in relation to requests related to events in the former Yugoslavia on 1 July of this year. The Mechanism was responsible for the trial of three individuals indicted by the Rwanda Tribunal. Their arrest and transfer was a top priority. Member States, however, played an invaluable role in ensuring that fugitives were apprehended.
He thanked the United States for offering financial rewards, through its War Crimes Rewards Programme, to individuals that provided information leading to the arrest or transfer of certain fugitives, including all nine Rwanda Tribunal-indicted fugitives. He called on other Member States to take steps to ensure the remaining indicted fugitives were arrested or brought to trial. Thanks to Member States’ dedication and cooperation, the Tribunal was able to account for all 161 of those individuals whom it indicted. A similar result was vital for Rwanda Tribunal indictees. In closing, he acknowledged that 25 May of this year marked the Tribunal’s twentieth anniversary.
VAGN JOENSEN, Judge, President, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, reported that the court had completed all its trial work, and had met all timelines projected in December 2012 for appeals. It had also finalized its decision to transfer the second case of an accused in custody to Rwanda. Five of the six remaining appeal cases were on track for completion before the end of 2014, and the transfer to the Mechanism of judicial records not in active use was expected to be completed, as well, by the end of that year. The Mechanism was now handling its first appeal from a trial judgement, and he had been actively involved in judicial matters handed over to the Mechanism in his role as Duty Judge of its Arusha branch. However, relocation of acquitted persons and those released after completion of sentences remained a pressing issue.
He said that, due to certain difficulties, the Rwanda Tribunal was now projecting completion of its final appeals judgement in the Butare case by July 2015. He then explained the status of the trials and appeals, providing updates on, among others, the trial judgement in the Ngirabatware case in December 2012 and the referral to Rwanda on 3 May of this year of the Munyagishari case. He also provided additional details on the Butare case, explaining that, along with other circumstances including language services issues, the request by several appellants of leave to expand the scope of their appeals beyond that in their original Notices of Appeal, which the December 2014 completion date had been based, had led to the projection of July 2015 for completion.
He expressed his gratitude to the Security Council for adopting resolution 2080 (2012), which extended the terms of the Appeals Chamber Judges until the end of 2014 or sooner upon the completion of their cases. Still, the enhanced cooperation of Member States vis-á-vis the court’s “persistent and increasingly dire” problem of relocating persons who had been acquitted or released after completing their sentences was crucial to completing the Tribunal’s work. He continued to see as a cornerstone of his Presidency the need to deploy all possible efforts in that regard, stating that, during the reporting period, he had increasingly applied his “energies” to persuade Member States to assist with relocation. There were now seven acquitted persons, one of whom had been acquitted in 2004, and three persons had been released after completion of their sentences; they remained in safe houses in Arusha under the Tribunal’s protection. Those 10 individuals remained on Tanzanian territory without proper immigration status or freedom of movement.
The court was “deeply concerned” about the consequences of failing to uphold the fundamental right of freedom to live one’s life after acquittal, he said, stressing the importance of finding host countries for those persons before the court closed. He called on all Member States, and in particular those in the Council in a position to do so, to assist with that problem; he thanked those who had already enhanced their cooperation in that regard. He also touched on downsizing and transition to the Mechanism, noting that the Tribunal continued to face staff recruitment and retention challenges arising from that process. Despite persistent staffing challenges, the court had successfully met its projected deadlines and remained with only appellate work and continuation of the transition to the Mechanism as it went forward. The transition was under way and, in that connection, a smooth transfer of prosecutorial tasks remained on track.
He reported that much progress had also been made with respect to preparation of the Tribunal’s archive, as the court was now in a position to transfer 40 per cent of its hard-copy records to the Mechanism’s custody. The actual handover would begin later this month and he anticipated that all closed judicial records would be transferred by December 2014. Records still in use would remain with the international Tribunal.
Wrapping up, he said that, since the Tribunal’s inception, it had sought to contribute to reconciliation in Rwanda, adding that rebuilding a sense of justice “has paved the way for moving past the events of 1994; the Tribunal has helped ensure that these events are never forgotten through its outreach and capacity-building initiatives”. Transition to the Mechanism marked the “etching of a new chapter in the history of international law”. With the impending closure of the ad hoc tribunals, the Mechanism would ensure that their legacy was preserved and that lessons learned were shared with their successors.
SERGE BRAMMETZ, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, despite the “rising crescendo of debate” about the Tribunal, the court would remain focused on successfully completing its last cases. The Karadi trial was well into the defence evidence presentation phase, and should be completed by year’s end 2013. To promote efficiency, the prosecution team had devised cross-examinations that minimized court time, while ensuring the evidence was properly tested. In both the Mladi and the Hadi cases, the prosecution was continuing with its evidence presentation. Efficiency techniques developed over previous years were minimizing the amount of court time used. In the reporting period, the Appeals Division had added four cases involving 11 accused persons to its case load. The prosecution’s work on the last trials and appeals was helped by good cooperation from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each had responded properly to requests for aid regarding documents and access to witnesses.
Problems affecting national war crimes strategies in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were increasingly disturbing, he said. Urgent action was needed on many fronts to correct that. He would travel to Sarajevo at the end of June for in-depth discussions on the status of the nine pending Category II cases transferred from the Tribunal to Bosnia and Herzegovina. His office would also hold a practical information session for entity-level prosecutors about accessing materials from its databases. He cited other ongoing initiatives to build capacity, including with the European Union, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN–Women), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Political leaders, he emphasized, must genuinely commit to making national war crimes strategies successful. He also noted that signs of progress during the reporting period were evident, with the conclusion of two regional cooperation protocols for war crimes prosecutions: one between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the other between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This is a step in the right direction, but the States involved must turn their words into concrete action,” he said, strongly encouraging the responsible authorities to make adequate resources available to successfully implement their national war crimes strategies.
He pointed out that Serbia’s efforts to establish accountability for those who aided former Yugoslavia Tribunal fugitives to evade justice were a work in progress, and he asked that such accountability mechanisms be finalized promptly and effectively. There was also a lack of progress in locating missing persons, including through exhumed mass graves. During his recent visits, survivor communities expressed significant frustration in that regard. Authorities in the region must urgently refocus on locating missing persons, regardless of their ethnicity. “As we enter the ICTY’s twenty-first year of operation, the thousands who survived crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia should be foremost in our minds,” he stated, calling for a redoubling of efforts to facilitate redress for them.
Noting that The Hague branch of the Residual Mechanism would begin in a few weeks, as the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s work continued, he stressed the need for an effective transition and the best possible outcome in each case. Safeguarding that body’s work also required staff retention. The loss of key staff members across the Tribunal posed a significant challenge. His office was seeking creative ways to encourage staff members to stay. Retention incentives were a key to meeting that objective.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said his focus for the past six months had been on the prosecution and completion of appeals, referral of cases to national jurisdictions, preparation of records for archiving and handover to the Residual Mechanism, and the completion of the legacy, residual and closure issues, as well as the provision of support to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Mechanism’s Arusha branch. That focus would continue in the months ahead. Significant time had also been spent attending to the commencement of The Hague branch of the Mechanism, due to be launched on 1 July of this year. He provided updates on the appellate workload, preparation of records for archiving by the Residual Mechanism and the monitoring of referred cases.
He noted the launch in November 2012 of the joint international ad hoc Prosecutors’ Compendium of Lessons Learned on the investigation and prosecution of international crimes and the renewed interest in the courts’ legacies that had accompanied it. A best-practices manual and tracking and arrest of fugitives had also been concluded and would be available to national and international prosecutors in due course. Over the next year, until the Tribunal’s closure, his office would be actively engaged with several such initiatives aimed at promoting best practices in the fight against impunity, especially at national levels.
Further, he said, the Rwanda Tribunal’s legacy products sought to record the challenges and responses to the investigation and prosecution of those difficult cases and to assist national and international prosecuting authorities, in their management of such challenges to maintain “the front line in ensuring accountability for international crimes”. Interest at the national level in the work of the Tribunal was growing, he remarked, adding his hope that Member States would deepen that impact through national programmes and appropriate legislative measures.
Turning to the operations of the Residual Mechanism, he said that all core staff, as well as ad hoc staff, necessary to conduct one upcoming appeal were already in place in the Arusha branch, and he expected some core staff to be in place in time for the opening of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal branch on 1 July in The Hague. The Arusha branch continued to track the three top fugitives, namely, Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana. In that regard, the Mechanism was launching several new initiatives aimed at increasing public interest and participation in tracking to supplement the Prosecutor’s efforts. In addition, contact would continue with Kenya, Zimbabwe and other States of the Great Lakes region in efforts to locate the three top-level fugitives. In that connection, he urged the Council to request all States to cooperate with the Mechanism.
He then outlined the activities of the Arusha branch of the Mechanism, noting that his office had addressed 26 requests for assistance from seven Member States in the past six months in support of ongoing national investigations or prosecutions. Those figures were in keeping with the increasing trend of ongoing investigations within national jurisdictions of those suspected of having participated in the Rwanda genocide. Such national efforts would contribute significantly to closing the gaps in the struggle against impunity. His office was monitoring the cases it had transferred to national jurisdictions and, while those transfers had facilitated the early conclusion of the Tribunal’s work, the court’s work would be realized only when all fugitives were arrested and brought to justice — whether at the Residual Mechanism or in national courts. He reiterated that the cooperation of all Member States was vital to combat impunity, and acknowledged the support of the United States through its War Crimes Rewards Programme and its promise, made yesterday, to continue to track the remaining fugitives.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) welcomed the twentieth anniversary of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, hailing its success in developing international jurisprudence, providing justice and apprehending fugitives. Taking note of the Rwanda Tribunal’s forecasts that all trials would conclude within set deadlines, he expressed his concern that nine fugitives were still at large. The Tribunal would only be able to complete its work successfully if States cooperated with it. Further, the human rights situation of those individuals whose cases had not been resolved or those that had completed their sentences, but had not been relocated, was troubling.
His country, he went on to say, was in the process of studying recommendations and the most efficient way to implement the recent Rwanda Tribunal plan for relocation of individuals. He urged States to cooperate with the Tribunal and lend the necessary assistance to support the strategic relocation of those people. As well, the tribunals must be flexible in assigning cases and completion dates, he said, noting the fact that all tribunals continued to adopt measures to conduct their proceedings quickly. However, he was concerned with the difficulty both tribunals had in retaining staff. He then expressed his support for the proposals by the President of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal for the to achieve objectives of the completion strategy. The Mechanism would guarantee that there were no gaps in the fight against impunity.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) observed that the Rwanda Tribunal’s completion of its work with respect to 93 accused persons and its focus substantially on the appeal had, in turn, increased the Appeals and Legal Advisory Division’s workload. Further, difficulties with the relocation of 10 individuals who had either been acquitted or released after completion of their sentences had impeded the well-timed completion of the Tribunal’s mandate and had created an additional burden. The former Yugoslavia Tribunal had also advanced its path towards the transition, having concluded proceedings against 136 of 161 individuals. However, in light of the sharply increasing workload of the Appeals Chamber, the existing challenges to retain highly experienced staff could hinder timely delivery of judgements. The successful operation of the Mechanism would depend significantly on States’ cooperation.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the twentieth anniversary this year of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and commended both courts for their valuable contribution in the fight against impunity. Recognizing the Tribunal’s efforts to complete its work, he observed that it still faced challenges related to belated arrests and staff drain. Thus, continued efforts were needed to promptly meet completion targets while conforming to justice principles. As for the Rwanda Tribunal, he noted that the transition to the Mechanism was well under way and that all but one appeal would be completed in 2014. However, those who had completed sentences, but were still in safe houses in Arusha under the Rwanda Tribunal’s protection, presented a very important humanitarian issue, and he commended the active role of the court’s President to resolve that. He supported the Council’s early decision that the Rwanda Tribunal judges would continue to perform the functions until 31 December 2014.
JEFFERY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide was a moral responsibility of his country and at the core of its national security. Further, the prosecution of perpetrators of heinous crimes was essential, as well as deterring those who would commit those crimes. The United States, therefore, strongly supported the work of the two tribunals and their dual roles of justice and prevention. The former Yugoslavia Tribunal had made a significant contribution to international justice; the body of work of both courts had reflected the bedrock principle of providing fair trials for the accused, critical to advance the rule of law internationally.
He said his country looked forward to the 1 July opening of The Hague branch to handle any outstanding former Yugoslavia Tribunal appeals. The Arusha branch had been open for nearly a year and had taken consequential steps, including referrals to Rwanda. Both courts should share resources to reduce costs; In addition, budgets for the next few years must support the new premises for the Arusha branch, archiving and accommodations for witnesses, as well as any additional judicial proceedings that might arise. The United States had recently announced an expanded reward programme for fugitives, now offering up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer or conviction of former Yugoslavia Tribunal fugitives or foreign nationals accused of war crimes, genocide and others. Such a stance reflected his country’s continued support for the justice systems aiming to hold accountable those who had perpetrated some of the “most monstrous crimes known to humankind and prevent their recurrence”.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said the two tribunals, amid scrutiny, had shown composure, solemnity and impartiality. The monitoring by the Mechanism’s Arusha branch of cases referred to national jurisdictions was important because its work on enforcement of sentences was vital for a smooth transition from the Tribunal to the Mechanism. Adequate resources must be given to the tribunals, as the lack of experienced staff would cause more delays, and he called for staff retention incentives on a case-by-case basis. Troubled by Rwanda Tribunal indictees still at large, he said he hoped that with cooperation and efforts of relevant Member States, the remaining fugitives would be held to account. He then urged States in a position to do so to respond positively to the tribunals’ requests to find hosts for the relocation of acquitted individuals of those had served their sentences. He hoped the tribunals would pave the way for reconciliation and lasting peace in the Balkans and the Great Lakes region.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), welcoming The Hague Division of the Residual Mechanism, said that the former Yugoslavia Tribunal faced a significant workload in the Šešelj, Karadžić, Mladić, and Hadžić trials. The election of a sixteenth judge to the Appeals Chamber as soon as possible would be helpful. Further, it was vital to arrest the nine fugitives wanted by the Rwanda Tribunal in order to render justice. She called on all States to cooperate towards that end. As well, the struggle against impunity in the Balkans was essential for regional cooperation and for permitting all citizens in the region to live with a sense of security. It was imperative to create a permanent court to end impunity for the most serious crimes. In that regard, she stated her support to create the International Criminal Court as a permanent court.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France) said the tribunals had anchored the Organization in the era of accountability. However, three high-ranking fugitives were at large, and once apprehended, they would be tried by the Residual Mechanism. In that regard, everyone’s cooperation with the Rwanda Tribunal was an obligation. The relocation of those acquitted or those that had served their sentences deserved attention. His country, he pointed out, had been one of the first to accept acquitted persons and he hoped other States would follow suit. He lauded the implementation of a framework agreement for peace, security and cooperation in the Great Lakes region. He also stated that full cooperation with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal was a major consideration, expressing hope that the recent agreement between Serbia and Kosovo would enable them to turn a page in the spirit of cooperation.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said that establishment of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had been a “watershed moment” in recognizing the relationship between justice and peace. Establishment of the Rwanda Tribunal a year later cemented that link. Prosecution of those accused of committing serious international crimes could not, by itself, bring about peace or reconciliation, but without justice, it was difficult and, ultimately, perhaps impossible, to establish an inclusive and lasting peace. In the face of the tribunals’ challenges, their achievements were “truly impressive”. Together, they had dealt with some 1,627 charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. In so doing, they had produced rich international criminal law jurisprudence. Legal aid systems had been established; protective measures for witnesses had been developed; and innovations in forensic, ballistic and re-enactment evidence had been made. Also, assistance had been provided to national judiciaries dealing with such crimes. There was a long way to go to end impunity, but that responsibility must be a continuous touchstone in the Council’s work.
LOTFI BOUCHAARA ( Morocco) welcomed the efforts of both tribunals to “speed up the rhythm” of their work, which had made it possible for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal to complete the trials of 93 accused. He also supported measures aimed at preserving the capacity of the Appeals Chamber of the Rwanda Tribunal, as that would enable it to keep to its schedule to complete all appeals in 2014. Noting the acknowledgement by the former Yugoslavia Tribunal that certain judgements would be provided “later”, he said he hoped it would be possible to help the court find suitable staff and that both courts would be able to overcome any difficulties of a practical or institutional nature to complete their strategies. The Council must continue to support the courts. Cooperation between the courts and Member States, as well as regional and subregional organizations, was crucial, not only in arresting fugitives, but in meeting requests for legal assistance, supporting referrals to national jurisdictions and facilitating the overall work of both tribunals.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation), commending the work of both tribunals and the Residual Mechanism, observed a “certain positive trend” towards remedying the “anti-Serbia leaning of the ICTY”. However, the court continued to suffer from serious judicial administrative problems. For example, extension of trial deadlines was “completely unreasonable”; well-organized activity should preclude such instances of a trial lasting 10 years. He would consider extending deadlines or increasing budgets only after expert analysis. He said the “stalemate” in the former Yugoslavia Tribunal concerning the initiative to have persons sentenced by the court serve out that punishment in their homeland could be broken with the help of independent experts, along the lines of the model that had been done in Sierra Leone, as he had proposed last year.
In that vein, he said that trust in the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and its role in national reconciliation would be restored by accepting Serbia’s petition to be inscribed on the list of countries where the Tribunal’s sentences were served; Serbia’s request was justified, both legally and politically. The situation in that country had changed dramatically since 1993; it had established modern legal institutions and rule of law, and there were “relevant guarantees by the Serbian side”. Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, he expressed disappointment at the delays, citing as an example the 18 months it had taken to translate into French one of its cases. He believed that Tribunal had the necessary capacities and resources to remedy the situation by the deadline set forth in Council resolution 1966 (2010). In closing, he said it would soon become clear whether the outcomes of the work of the two tribunals, indeed, their legacies, would be acceptable to the whole international community.
LI ZHENHUA (China), lauding the tribunals’ progress in their respective completion strategies, stressed that they must be closed by the end of 2014, and the Council’s resolution in that regard must be strictly followed. The Rwanda Tribunal’s Residual Mechanism had functioned well. He hoped the former Yugoslavia Tribunal would properly organize its work to ensure a smooth start of its Residual Mechanism. He noted difficulties in administration and the fact that there were nine fugitives under the jurisdiction of the Rwanda Tribunal. He called on the countries concerned to continue cooperation with the two tribunals and arrest those fugitives at large. He also noted Serbia’s proposal on the servicing of sentences, which was very important.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) said one argument used by genocide deniers in the case of Rwanda was to describe it as something “perpetrated against a national group”. He called on the United Nations to consider reviewing that definition and instead notated the crime as “a genocide perpetrated by the Tutsis”. Turning to the time and cost of the Rwanda Tribunal’s proceedings, he said he was concerned that, with a multi-billion-dollar budget, it had only processed cases of 17 suspects. In 1998, the then-Prime Minister of Rwanda had pleaded guilty in the Tribunal to six accounts. However, in several cases in the past month, the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber had acquitted members of the Government, some of whom had been heavily sentenced in the first instance. The Rwanda Tribunal had not fully lived up to the trust that Rwandans had invested in it.
He went on to reiterate his commitment to fully cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal Residual Mechanism. Nonetheless, he was concerned about the fate of cases transferred to France in 2007. Little had been done since then to speed up their proceedings. He echoed the call that Member States must live up to their obligation to cooperate with the Residual Mechanism and ensure the remaining nine fugitives were brought to justice. As well, the Tribunal’s archives and records should be transferred to Rwanda upon completion of the Residual Mechanism, so they were easily accessible to the Rwandan people for posterity. That was important to guard against genocide denying and revisionism, including in the future.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) urged the Rwanda Tribunal to keep its pledge on appeals and to make the two arrests it had committed to by the end of 2013. He noted the decision of Council whereby one of the two new judges of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal would be appointed and the other would be elected, in order to bring the number of judges to the amount needed. The relevant entities in the United Nations should take appropriate steps to ensure staff retention at the tribunals. He hoped the end of the two tribunals would not spell impunity for individuals on the run. Monitoring mechanisms still must be established to guarantee due process before such jurisdictions. He welcomed coordination with the International Criminal Court with a view to a possible solution to house those who had already served their sentences, but had no place to go. He also welcomed the transfer of assistance from the two tribunals to the Arusha Mechanism. That experience would help organize The Hague branch.
MARIA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) recognized the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s efforts to comply with deadlines and deal with staff reductions, including those in translation services. She also welcomed its compliance with projections for appellate timelines, as well as with the handover of archives by the end of 2014. She commended the Mechanism’s monitoring of cases referred to Rwanda’s national courts and for ensuring due process during the transition. The former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s twentieth anniversary was an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of fighting impunity and to recognize the contributions of the two tribunals to international law and international humanitarian law, as well as the role of international criminal justice, the legacy of the courts and the undeniable fact that there could be no sustainable peace without justice.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, said the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had been instrumental in helping to tackle impunity and deliver justice to the many victims in the former Yugoslavia. Also welcome was the continued cooperation of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Tribunal, as that was essential for completion of its mandate. At the same time, he noted that limited support in some instances had allowed certain networks to evade capture. He welcomed the signing of the text covering the exchange of evidence between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, noting at the same time, the constraints of domestic institutions to conduct war crimes cases and suggest that ways to bolster that capacity be explored. It was important, as well, to minimize delays in completing trials. He commended the Rwanda Tribunal’s progress in the transition, but said the capture of outstanding fugitives remained a priority. The work of the tribunals would not be fully complete until all individuals were apprehended, for which the full support of all Member States was required.
NIKOLA SELAKOVIĆ, Minister of Justice and Public Administration of Serbia, said his country had rendered “continued and undivided” importance to cooperation with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. In July 2011, Serbia had completed its cooperation with respect to all indictees whose transfer had been requested by the Tribunal. The court’s Prosecutor and President had deemed positive the results achieved by Serbia. There were no outstanding or unmet assistance requests; all summons had been served in time; orders had been carried out in a timely fashion; and witnesses had attended the Tribunal without delay or difficulties. His country also had cooperated in access to documentation, archives and witnesses, and had not refused any request for access by either the Prosecutor or defence teams. All witnesses for whom waivers had been requested were granted, which had made it possible for them to testify.
At the same time, he continued, 398 persons had been tried in Serbian national courts for criminal offences committed “against international humanitarian law”. Consequently, his country had shown not only a firm commitment to complying with its international obligations, including punishment of those responsible for committing crimes during the armed conflicts in the “territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”, but it had contributed to establishing justice and the process of regional reconciliation.
Twenty years after the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s establishment, he said, the painful memories of the tragic events of the 1990s still gnawed at many in the region. However, time and time again, those countries had demonstrated their resolve to good-neighbourliness, cooperation and reconciliation. The initiative to enable the persons sentenced by the Tribunal to serve in the countries that had emerged in the territory of the former Yugoslavia was of great importance to Serbia, and, on 20 January 2011, it had signed an agreement with the Tribunal on the enforcement of its sentences, under which those sentenced by that court of commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide might serve their sentences in Serbia. His was the first Eastern European country to have signed such an agreement; United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Finland had also done so.
In addition, he said that, as the purpose of punishment also included the “re-socialization” of the sentenced persons, his country believed that that goal could hardly be achieved if those persons served their sentences in countries whose languages they did not speak or which made visits by family members much more difficult, if not, impossible. He also highlighted Serbia’s years-long cooperation with the Tribunal and its readiness to accept international supervision of the serving of sentences, as well as to provide firm guarantees that the convicted would not be paroled without the requisite decisions of the Tribunal, Residual Mechanism or some other United Nations organ.
Since 2009, he said, Serbia had been working actively on the initiative and, on many occasions, the highest-ranking Serbian officials had addressed calls to the United Nations and former Yugoslavia Tribunal officials. Still, no breakthrough had occurred. That was the main reason for the stalemate; even if the court’s position might have been considered justified in 1993 “when winds of war ripped the former Yugoslavia”, it was clear that it had lost its validity long ago. Serbia today was a democratic country with a demonstrated commitment to its international obligations, including the punishment of those responsible for crimes and the enforcement of sentences in accordance with European standards. He asked Council members to re-examine the recommendation of 20 years ago by the then-Secretary-General and to allow Serbia to be placed on the list of countries willing to accept convicted persons, under the Tribunal’s full supervision.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said her country’s national authorities had consistently and constructively cooperated with The Hague prosecution and the former Yugoslavia Tribunal since the end of the war. That cooperation was positively assessed in the relevant periodic reports and noted in the Prosecutor’s last report. Bosnia and Herzegovina had carried the greatest burden of prosecutions for war crimes. Still, since 2005, when the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina became fully operational, there had been measurable progress in processing war crimes, and more than 200 cases had been successfully concluded. However, there were a large number of war crimes to be prosecuted in domestic courts.
The National Strategy for War Crimes, and the capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s system to process war crimes cases fairly and in line with national and global standards was not in question. Nonetheless, stronger efforts were needed to effectively increase the pace of the overall case processing at both the State and entity level. As the tribunals were headed for closure, the reach of justice was with the credible national prosecutions. The common goal must continue to be the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators. The Protocol on the exchange of evidence and information on war crimes, recently signed by the Prosecutor’s Office of her country and Croatia, would serve as an impetus to strengthen communication and further enhance coordination.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said the creation of the tribunals forever changed the landscape of international criminal justice. His country always had strongly supported the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s main purpose of prosecuting and punishing war criminals, as well as its more global function of restoring and maintaining regional peace and security, and promoting justice and reconciliation. He welcomed the Tribunal’s results to date, particularly that those indicted had been arrested and transferred to its custody. It was encouraging that several high-level perpetrators of the most serious crimes in the region were now in prison.
He lamented, however, the very long judicial processes that had interfered with the victims’ rightful expectations and the rights of the accused to a fair, swift trial. It was artificial to introduce into the Tribunal’s new, untested concepts as criteria for determining the individual responsibility of the accused. That significantly altered the traditional command responsibility concept. Furthermore, introducing those concepts in the later stage of the proceedings weakened that body’s authenticity. He stated he was pleased that the Prosecutor’s report recognized Croatia’s full, unequivocal cooperation with his office, and reaffirmed Croatia’s readiness to continue mutual cooperation on war crimes with States in the region.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union delegation, said ending impunity for serious crimes was indispensable for sustainable peace and reconciliation. The former Yugoslavia Tribunal had set new standards for giving support and aid to victims, as well as capacity-building and outreach. Such projects were important for that Tribunal’s legacy. The European Union had contributed to the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme for 2013 and 2014. He regretted that some Western Balkan countries continued to face difficulties in prosecuting war crimes cases. Some also suffered from significant backlogs. He stressed the importance of local ownership, building national capacity and increasing public awareness. Apprehending the remaining fugitives wanted by the Rwanda Tribunal was a priority. All States concerned, particularly those in the Great Lakes region, must cooperate effectively towards that end. He welcomed the transfer of cases to the domestic Rwandan Courts for prosecution. Further progress was needed to reform the genocide ideology law, while promoting a future based on genuine reconciliation. He welcomed commencement of the functioning of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal branch of the Residual Mechanism in The Hague as of 1 July of this year.
MARCEL VAN DEN BOGAARD ( Netherlands) said that, by creating the tribunals, the Council had profoundly changed the international debate; impunity was no longer acceptable and the international community had entered an “age of accountability”. The Rwanda Tribunal had greatly broadened international criminal jurisprudence by being the first court to prosecute suspects for the crime of genocide, by demonstrating that rape might be genocide, and by considering the media’s criminal responsibility. It also contributed to developing the law regarding criminal responsibility in non-international armed conflict.
He said that the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had been equally successful: all of the indicted had been brought before it, including several long-term fugitives. It had contributed substantially to the penalization of grave breaches of international humanitarian law and the further development of customary laws of war. His country was proud to host it. Political, diplomatic and financial support to those and other tribunals was vital, and it was the Council’s solemn responsibility to ensure that they could do their work.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) spoke on behalf of Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Slovenia, Switzerland, Timor-Leste and Uruguay. He said that, although the lessons of the tribunals were of great significance, it was too early to assess their full legacy, given that some of the most prominent cases were still in the trial phase. While some aspects of their work might remain controversial, they must not reduce the courts’ historical importance. The Council, for its part, should remain a key player to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law. Part of that would be done pursuant to its referral power under the Rome Statute.
However, he said, there were other ways, including by enhancing State capacity to fight impunity through their national judiciaries. It was likely, he noted, that the “era of ad hoc tribunals is soon coming to an end”. With that, the Council had moved on to different types of accountability work and should continue on its path. Still, it was essential to draw some key conclusions from the chapter written by the ad hoc tribunals. Among those was that international criminal justice required diplomatic support and follow-up. Also, there must be a solid financial basis for those mechanisms and, for international criminal justice to be effective, there must be “ownership” in the affected countries.
From the perspective of the Council’s working methods, he said, the group felt that the Working Group on Tribunals was noteworthy, but a broader approach could be taken, which established the means to discuss other accountability issues. The creation of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal 20 years ago was the “dawn of the age of accountability”. At its heart was also a realization that issues were intricately linked with peace and security. The Council should draw the necessary lessons from the past 20 years and continue to make accountability for the worst crimes under international law a priority in its work.
* *** *For information media • not an official record