UN judges call for more State cooperation over Rwanda genocide and other atrocities

Erik Møse (L) and Fausto Pocar (file photo)

10 October 2006 – Top United Nations judges investigating atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Balkans war have called on Member States to cooperate more closely with their international courts to bring the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes to justice.

Both International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) President Erik Mose and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) President Fausto Pocar told the General Assembly on Monday that their main stumbling block was getting national authorities to arrest suspects.

The Hague-based ICTY is still hunting six fugitives, and the ICTR, located in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, is seeking a further 18. In particular, Judge Pocar expressed regret that Serbian authorities had made no progress in locating or arresting Ratko Mladic, while Republika Srpska had also failed to deliver Radovan Karadzic.

“The Tribunal must not close its doors before these accused are brought to justice…otherwise [its] message and legacy that the international community will not tolerate serious violations of international humanitarian law will be thwarted,” he said.

And while Judge Mose said that the Rwanda Tribunal was working at “full speed” and was expected to complete cases involving between 65 and 70 accused by the end of 2008, it was essential for Member States to cooperate in the arrest and transfer of all fugitives, particularly one well-known indictee, Felicien Kabuga.

Speaking in response, Pavle Jevremovic from Serbia said his Government had expressed full determination and political commitment to ensuring that all individuals indicted for the most serious violations of international law during the conflicts in the territory of the Former Yugoslavia be brought to justice, either by the ICTY or by domestic judiciaries.

In his remarks, Joseph Nsengimana from Rwanda reiterated serious concerns that the Tribunal’s staff included individuals who were themselves accused of having committed serious crimes during the 1994 Genocide. At the end of September, his Government informed the Security Council that 14 individuals who were well known to be “genocide suspects” were employed by the Tribunal.

Also speaking to the Assembly was Judge Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) –– the world's only permanent court to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and other abuses.

He reported solid progress in investigations into atrocities committed in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region but highlighted that security in the field overall had continued to be a serious concern and said that the extent of the challenges facing the Court was unlike anything experienced by other courts as tribunals.

The Security Council referred the situation in Darfur, along with the names of 51 suspected perpetrators of crimes, to the ICC in March 2005, after a UN inquiry into whether genocide had occurred found the Government responsible for crimes under international law and strongly recommended referring the dossier to the Court.

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