OFFICIALS OF UN WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON PROGRESS TOWARDS CONCLUDING TRIALS BY 2008
OFFICIALS OF UN WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON PROGRESS TOWARDS CONCLUDING TRIALS BY 2008
5086th Meeting (AM & PM)
Officials of UN war crimes Tribunals for former Yugoslavia, Rwanda brief
Security Council on progress towards concluding trials by 2008
Say Courts Resolved to Meet Council Deadlines, but Obstacles
Include Underfunding, Lack of Cooperation in Apprehending Fugitives
Briefing the Security Council today, the Presidents and Prosecutors of the United Nations Tribunals trying cases stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia expressed their firm resolve for meeting the Council-imposed 2008 deadline for completing all trials, yet drew attention to the persistent obstacles threatening that goal, namely, underfunding by Member States, a resulting recruitment freeze, and a lack of cooperation by some States in apprehending most wanted fugitives.
Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, presenting a broad overview of that Tribunal’s efforts to complete its work by 2008, urged the Council to be mindful of the risks posed to international justice in seeming to allow fugitives the false hope that they could outrun and outlast the Tribunal. With the end of the Tribunal’s life cycle in sight, it was crucial that the international community guard against compromising the legacy of justice, the ending of impunity and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia.
Although the Tribunal’s estimate that it could complete its work by 2008 remained valid, he warned that any further growth in the trial docket would make the achievement of the 2008 deadline entirely dependent on the Tribunal’s ability to dispose of pending or future cases. The Tribunal’s basic prerequisite to effective and fair adjudication was seriously threatened by the current hiring freeze, which not only limited the Tribunal’s ability to take on new staff to meet its increasing workload, but also forbid hiring even to replace essential personnel who left the Tribunal, he said.
By its resolution 1503 of 28 August 2003, the Council called on The Hague-based Yugoslavia Tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, to complete investigations by the end of 2004, end trials by 2008, and close down before the end of 2010.
Another critical factor in meeting the 2008 deadline, Judge Meron said, was the degree of cooperation the Tribunal received from States in the former Yugoslavia. Noting in particular a lack of serious effort by authorities of the Republika Srpska to locate and arrest fugitives, he said that, despite some progress, the Tribunal remained gravely concerned over that Government’s lack of cooperation. Touching on the issue of transferring the cases of low- and intermediate-level accused to national courts, which would also bear on the Tribunal’s ability to implement its completion strategy, he said a special chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s State Court was expected to be operational in January 2005.
Despite the vast scope and unprecedented nature of its task, the Tribunal had gone a long way in achieving the Council’s goal of ensuring that persons responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity were tried for those crimes in public trials that met the highest standards of international due process. The Tribunal’s legacy would include an impressive corpus of decisions on substantive international criminal law, humanitarian law, human rights and international criminal procedure and evidence. As the Tribunal progressed through the most active and productive period of its history, it continued to send a powerful message of responsibility and accountability to the former Yugoslavia and throughout the international community.
Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, also noting her commitment to the time frame for the Tribunal’s completion, agreed that States’ lack of cooperation, the state of preparedness of domestic jurisdiction, and the financial crisis were the three major factors impacting negatively on the completion strategy. The first major milestone in the implementation of the strategy would be the closure of all investigations by the end of the year. On the prosecution side, efforts were continuously made to support the judges in their work to streamline the procedures and to increase the trials’ efficiency.
She stressed that those efforts would have no effect, however, unless all accused were brought to The Hague in time to be tried before the end of 2008. Upon the start of the second phase of the completion strategy in 2005, if some of the most importance indictees, namely, Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Ante Gotovina, were not arrested and transferred in the coming months, it might be necessary to revise the target dates of the completion strategy. The year 2005 would mark the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the Dayton Agreement and the indictment against Karadzic and Mladic. If the international community could not prevent the genocide, it should at least not allow that, and the other most serious crimes, to go unpunished.
Erik Møse, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, providing a detailed assessment of the trials on the Tribunal’s docket, confirmed that the Tribunal was “on schedule” and intended to complete all trials by 2008, as required by Council resolutions 1503 and 1534. Although only five months had elapsed since he last briefed the Council, much had been achieved. The Tribunal had delivered five trial judgements involving nine accused and another judgement had been delivered on 15 July, bringing the total number of trial judgements rendered by the Court since the first trial started in January 1997 to 17, involving 23 persons. Never before had the judicial output been so high.
Also expressing concern about the effects of the recruitment freeze, he said the Tribunal could only comply with the time frames established by the Council if it was provided with sufficient resources. While the freeze on the recruitment of new staff had not yet significantly affected the completion strategy, the situation was becoming critical. More than 80 staff members had left the Tribunal since the freeze was imposed and the number of vacancies was increasing every month. With judges sharing legal officers through ad hoc arrangements, the current situation could not continue, he said.
The Rwanda Tribunal Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, noting that the Tribunal was on schedule, said he saw no need for any further revision of the Tribunal’s completion strategy. Next year would pose a real challenge, however. He expected in 2005 to have the highest number ever on trial simultaneously, and he did not expect that peak to decline before 2006. His Office was also preparing for trial the cases of the remaining detainees, who now numbered 18, and would be ready to commence new trials in respect to at least eight of those detainees in 2005. Regarding proposals for the transfer of cases, apart from Rwanda, it was not proving easy to find States ready, able, and willing to take on cases for the prosecution from the Tribunal.
Continuing, he said the apprehension and transfer of indicted fugitives remained fraught with difficulties. While Ephrem Setako had been arrested earlier this year in the Netherlands, there were still 14 other indicted persons at large. The level of international support by States in which such persons resided had fallen below what was required for a successful arrest programme. For its part, the Council should exhort Member States to live up to their legal obligations to comply with resolution 1503 (2004) to arrest indicted fugitives in their territories and transfer them to the Tribunal.
Council members took the floor in praise of the Tribunals and to press them to fulfil their obligations under the completion strategies, in full and on time, by 2010. It was stressed that cooperation with the Tribunals was not an option, but a legal obligation. Moreover, continuing non-cooperation, specifically with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, would frustrate the aspirations of those countries for closer integration with Europe. While underfunding and insufficient cooperation with both Tribunals were recognized as the main obstacles to achieving the completion strategies, a number of Council members seemed to resist the notion of adjusting the strategies just now. Some delegations, however, highlighted that possibility.
Statements were made by the representatives of Angola, Algeria, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Philippines, Germany, Spain, Benin, France, Russian Federation, Romania, Pakistan, Chile, United States, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Rwanda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m., suspended at 1 p.m., resumed at 1:12 p.m. and adjourned at 2:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings from top officials of the two United Nations Tribunals trying cases stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The Council was last briefed on 29 June by the Presidents and other high officials of the two Tribunals on the progress made in implementing the Council’s completion strategy. Council resolution 1503 of 28 August 2003 called on the Tribunals to complete investigations by the end of 2004, to complete all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and to complete all work by 2010. By that resolution, the Council also split the prosecutorial duties for the Tribunals, which until then had been the responsibility of a single official.
Resolution 1534 of 26 March 2004 requested each Tribunal to provide assessments starting on 31 May 2004 and every six moths thereafter on the Council-imposed 2008 deadline. Advance copies of the assessments by the Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have been circulated among Council members.
According to the assessment of the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (to be issued as S/2004/897), the Council’s decision to create an international tribunal for the prosecution of serious violations of international humanitarian law has yielded a mature institution that is now making daily contributions to the fight against inhumanity. Despite the vast scope and unprecedented nature of its task, the Tribunal has achieved the Council’s goal of ensuring that persons responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity must answer for them in public trials that meet the highest standards of international due process. The jurisprudence that the Tribunal has developed, in matters of international criminal law and international criminal procedure, has already served as an important resource for the Rwanda Tribunal and other war crimes tribunals.
The Yugoslavia Tribunal is committed to doing all within its power to meet the goals of the completion strategy. In order to fulfil its mandate, however, the Tribunal must be able to try the most senior fugitives accused of serious violations of international humanitarian law, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, as well as Ante Gotovina. As long as those individuals remain at large, the Tribunal will not have completed its historic mission. In order to carry out this task of providing justice to victims and ending impunity, the Tribunal needs the strong political and financial support of the United Nations and all MemberStates, as well as the necessary resources to do its job. Measures such as a general freeze of hiring personnel are bound to jeopardize the Tribunal’s work.
The Council’s instruction that the Tribunal focus on trying the most senior persons responsible for crimes within its jurisdiction means that new indictees will be unlikely candidates for referral to national jurisdictions under
Rule 11 bis of the Rules of Procedure. It is, therefore, imperative that cases already on the Tribunal’s docket that can be completed without a full trial be finished as soon as possible, and that cases of lower-level and intermediate-level indictees be transferred to national jurisdictions. The success of the Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber is critical in that regard. The transfer of high-priority fugitives, namely, Karadzic, Mladic and Gotovina, should be ensured as soon as possible, and cooperation by the States of the former Yugoslavia must be forthcoming in all other relevant situations, including the provision of evidence and the return of individuals on provisional release.
The arrival at The Hague of every freshly indicted accused creates additional stresses in meeting the target for the completion of trials in 2008. It is essential that the Tribunal continue to have adequate personnel to perform its work, a requirement seriously threatened by the current hiring freeze, which not only limits the Tribunal’s ability to take on new staff to meet its increasing workload, but also forbids even replacing essential personnel who leave the Tribunal. The Tribunal must be in a position to improve its retention of qualified staff and to rectify the severe staff shortage at the Appeals Unit of the Rwanda Tribunal.
The assessment of the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (to be issued as S/2004/921) notes that trials of 23 persons are completed, and cases involving 25 accused are in progress, of which one trial is at the stage of judgement writing. Consequently, the trials of 48 persons have been completed or are in progress. Eighteen accused are awaiting trial. The Prosecutor intends to transfer the cases of five detainees to national jurisdictions. The trials of the remaining 13 detainees will start from 2005 on, depending on Trial Chamber and courtroom availability.
The Prosecutor will focus on the accused bearing the heaviest responsibility for the crimes committed in 1994. Fifteen indicted persons are still at large, of whom the Prosecutor intends to transfer four to national jurisdictions for trial. Moreover, the prosecution is presently conducting 15 remaining investigations, which will be completed by the end of 2004. While that could result in a maximum of 15 new indictments, the number of trials will involve less than 26 persons from those two groups. Some of them may be dead, and others may never be arrested. The number of persons brought to Arusha, therefore, will be lower.
By resolution 1512 (2003), the Council increased the number of ad litem judges that may sit at any one time from four to nine and allowed such judges to adjudicate over pre-trial matters. As a consequence of these reforms, it is estimated that the cases involving the 26 accused whose trials are currently in progress will be completed from 2005 to 2006. The last of the trials of the remaining 13 detainees could be concluded by 2006 or 2007. Indictees and suspects presently at large will be tried in 2007 and 2008. On the basis of the information presently available, it is estimated that by 2008, the Tribunal may have completed trials involving 65 to 70 persons.
There are currently 25 detainees in eight trials, five of which are lengthy because they are joint trials. An estimate of some 1,097 trial days will be required for their completion. Trials of the 13 detainees awaiting trial will require about 806 trial days. Some 1,612 trial days will be required for the completion of trials in respect of the indictees who remain at large and suspects who are likely to be indicted.
According to projections, by 2008, the Tribunal could be able to complete trials and judgements in the range of 65 to 70 persons, depending on the progress of present and future trials.
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said it was now over six months since he had delivered to the Council, as specified by resolution 1534 (2004), assessments of the Tribunal’s progress towards implementation of the completion strategy. Since its establishment, the Tribunal has completed trials in 18 cases involving 36 accused. A further 17 accused had pleaded guilty, three of whom had entered pleas mid-trial. The Tribunal’s three Trial Chambers continued to operate at full capacity, handling six cases simultaneously. Currently, four trials were being heard in the cases of Krajisnik, Milosevic, Hadzihasanovic and Kubura, and Oric. Two other cases -– Strugar, and Blagojevic and Jokic -- were currently in the judgement writing stage, the first due to be rendered before the end of December 2004 and the second in January 2005. The Tribunal had, therefore, completed or was holding in the first instance proceedings involving 60 accused in 24 trials and 15 separate guilty plea proceedings.
While many factors were important in determining the Tribunal’s ability to adhere to the schedule detailed in the completion strategy, several factors were particularly important, he said. They included the Tribunal’s ability to refer cases to competent national jurisdictions for trial; improved cooperation with the Tribunal by States in the former Yugoslavia; and a continued focus of Tribunal resources on the most senior-level accused. Transferring some of the docket out of The Hague had the potential to reduce the Tribunal’s workload in a meaningful way. Accordingly, the passage of Rule 11 bis of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence gave Trial Chambers the power to refer an indictment to the authorities of a State in which the crime had been committed, in which the accused were arrested, or which had jurisdiction and was willing and adequately prepared to accept the case.
He noted that, in determining whether to refer an indictment, a Trial Chamber had to consider the gravity of the crimes charged and the level of responsibility of the accused, in accordance with the Council’s intention that the Tribunal retain jurisdiction over the most high-level defendants and the most serious crimes. Trial Chambers might not refer cases to jurisdictions in which the accused might not be accorded a fair trial, or in which the death penalty was a possible consequence of the trial.
The Prosecutor, he said, had already begun to make motions for the transfer of cases to domestic jurisdictions under Rule 11 bis. To date, she had filed six motions involving 10 accused, namely, Zeljko, Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar, Dusko Knezevic, Mitar Rasevic, and Savo Todovic, requesting that seven be transferred to the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, two to Croatia and one to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. A Trial Chamber had been tasked to review the requests for 11 bis transfer, and, if it ultimately deemed some or all of the requests to be appropriate, the resulting transfers would be of real assistance in keeping the Tribunal on schedule for compliance with the completion strategy.
Using the 11 bis process to integrate Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro into the process of bringing offenders to justice would have benefits that went beyond a reduction of the Tribunal’s caseload and promoting the completion strategy. Involving those national governments in the process would bring reconciliation and justice to the region, as well as promote the development of a commitment to the rule of law. National courts could only play that role, however, if trials were not used for political purposes and if they met international standards of due process and fair trial. To that end, other members of the international community had begun lending support to the fledgling Sarajevo tribunal. Substantial additional support was still required, however, as the Council recognized in calling for further financial support in paragraph 10 of resolution 1534.
The States of the former Yugoslavia were in varying stages of readiness to accept transfers of cases from the Tribunal, he said. A special chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s State Court would soon be ready to accept transferred cases of lower and intermediate-level officials. The Tribunal’s officials had provided substantial support to the Office of the High Representative to create the special chamber. A Joint Implementation Task Force and nine working groups had been established to prepare the Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber to receive transferred cases. The Bosnian authorities expected that the Chamber would be operational in January 2005.
He said the Tribunal was engaged in a number of initiatives to expedite the process of preparation for eventual referral of cases from the Tribunal to Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro. During his official visit to Croatia in early November 2004, he head been impressed by the professionalism of the Supreme Court and the Country Court in Zagreb. He was optimistic about their growing capability to try war crimes cases according to international human rights and due process standards.
A second critical factor affecting the Tribunal’s ability to adhere to the completion strategy was the degree of cooperation from States in the former Yugoslavia, he said, as there was currently a wide variation in the several States’ willingness to cooperate with the Tribunal. While cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Tribunal remained very good in all areas, there was no cooperation on the part of Republika Srpska. There had been no serious effort by the Republika Srpska authorities to locate and arrest fugitives, and the issue of missing and possibly hidden documentation was still not resolved. Croatia’s cooperation with the Tribunal was good in all domains except for the arrest of Ante Gotovina, the sole remaining fugitive from justice from Croatia. The need to arrest Gotovina and deliver him to The Hague continued to be an issue of the highest importance, and one that should have long ago been resolved.
Regarding Serbia and Montenegro, he noted that despite the recent transfer of Ljubisa Beara and some progress on the granting of waivers for witnesses to be authorized to testify, the Tribunal remained gravely concerned over that Government’s lack of cooperation, in particular its willingness to arrest fugitives. The general cooperation of that State with the Tribunal, especially taking measures against intimidation of witnesses and against pressures on judges and prosecutors, was particularly important.
The Tribunal would also need to continue to follow Council resolution 1534, in which the Council called on the Tribunal, in reviewing and confirming any new indictments, to ensure that such indictments concentrate on the most senior leaders suspected of being most responsible for crimes within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. Up until now, the Bureau, which was comprised of the Tribunal’s President and Vice-President and the presiding judges of the three Trial Chambers, had determined that recent indictments had all satisfied the seniority criterion.
Regarding the Tribunal’s current standing vis-à-vis the completion strategy schedule, he noted that in May 2004 Tribunal estimates had suggested that the Tribunal could still complete the trials of those accused who were in custody or on provisional release at that time, as well as the trial, in all probability, of the fugitive Ante Gotovina before the end of 2008. However, if new indictees or current fugitives were to arrive at The Hague and require new and separate trials, it would become increasingly unlikely that all accused within the Tribunal’s custody could be tried by the end of 2008.
Since his last report to the Council, he said one new indictment had been submitted and confirmed, namely, that of Goran Hadzic. He remained at large. Two more additions to the caseload came from the arrests of Ljubisa Beara and Miroslav Bralo, two fugitives who were already under indictment. Those new indictments to the Tribunal’s docket did not require significant revision of the estimate he had presented in May. The Tribunal still estimated that, assuming a reasonable rate of granting pending and anticipated 11 bis applications, the Tribunal could complete the trials of all accused currently in custody, including those on provisional release, as well as the trial of Gotovina before the end of 2008.
Any further growth in the trial docket, he added, would make the achievement of the 2008 deadline entirely dependent on the ability to dispose of some pending or future cases other than by a full trial at the Tribunal, whether by guilty pleas or 11 bis transfers. The new indictments anticipated in the coming weeks, which might result in four new trials, would further diminish the likelihood of meeting the 2008 deadline, if they culminated in new arrivals.
That prediction rested on certain assumptions, he added. Following the election of permanent judges on 19 November 2004, it could be assumed that trials pending in November 2005 would continue uninterrupted even though the mandate of the Tribunal’s permanent judges expired during that month. The Council might be required, however, to extend the mandate of one permanent judge for a few months in order to complete his case.
Various factors bore on the Tribunal’s future ability to implement the completion strategy successfully, he said. First, it was essential that the Tribunal had adequate personnel to stay abreast of its steadily increasing workload. That basic prerequisite to effective and fair adjudication was seriously threatened by the current hiring freeze, which not only limited the Tribunal’s ability to take on new staff to meet its increased workload, but also forbid hiring even to replace essential personnel who left the Tribunal.
He said it was difficult to overstate the danger that posed to the Tribunal’s mission. Without adequate assistance from legal officers, the time required for the Tribunal’s judges to hear and decide cases would increase dramatically. The current shortage of essential staff throughout the Tribunal might make it impossible to continue courtroom hearings in six trials simultaneously. He had, in recent months, been involved in attempts to persuade governments to pay their arrears. He expressed appreciation to the Russian Federation and the United States for having paid in full, in the last few months, their assessments for 2004 dues in full, reflecting strong political will to see the Tribunal succeed. The freeze must be lifted without further delay if damage to the credibility of international justice and far greater expenses were to be avoided, he said.
Continuing, he said the Tribunal must be able to focus its resources on trying the most senior accused suspected of being most responsible for crimes within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction within the time frame of the completion strategy. That required the development of domestic institutions in the States of the former Yugoslavia capable of receiving eligible cases refereed under Rule 11 bis. The schedule would also be positively affected in the event that additional accused pleaded guilty before trial. Improved cooperation by MemberStates and appropriate measures to avoid interruptions due to the expiration of the term of office of ad litem judges in June 2005 would further assist the Tribunal’s ability to fulfil the goals of the completion strategy. It would be helpful for elections of ad litem judges to be held as early as possible in 2005, so as to enable the Tribunal to achieve the most timely and efficient organization of trials possible.
The Tribunal was fully committed to the completion strategy and would not be complacent in making all efforts to successfully achieve the strategy’s goals. In that context, the Tribunal was firmly resolved to do its utmost to conclude all trials at the first instance by 2008. He was encouraged that the General Assembly, when it took up the Tribunal’s annual report on 15 November, recognized the measures already taken to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness at the Tribunal. The judges had on their agenda additional proposed reforms, which, if adopted, would have a real impact on reducing the length of trials, while at the same time respecting the due process in all respects. Steps would need to be taken in preparation for the winding up of the Tribunal to ensure that the requirements of the Statute and international law could be met after the Tribunal’s work was complete, he said.
Despite the vast scope and unprecedented nature of its task, the Tribunal had gone a long way in achieving the Council’s goal of ensuring that persons responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity must answer for them in public trials that met the highest standards of international due process. The jurisprudence that the Tribunal had developed had already served as an important resource for the Rwanda Tribunal and other war crimes tribunals established under the aegis of the United Nations and would provide guidance to the International Criminal Court.
He said the Tribunal’s legacy would include an impressive corpus of decisions on substantive international criminal law, humanitarian law, human rights and international criminal procedure and evidence. As the Tribunal progressed through the most active and productive period of its history, it continued to send a powerful message of responsibility and accountability to the former Yugoslavia and throughout the international community. The Tribunal had demonstrated that international prosecutions and trials of war criminals under due process were possible and credible. The Tribunal was committed to continuing to improve its methods of work, its rules and its procedures, but the completion strategy would not be allowed to compromise the due process rights of the accused or to create an impunity gap.
Concluding, he called on Member States to do their full part in assisting the Tribunal. Twenty fugitives remained at large and had to be arrested, including Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, as well as Ante Gotovina. In that regard, he urged the Council to be mindful of the risks posed to international justice in seeming to allow fugitives the false hope that they could outrun and outlast the Tribunal. With the end of the Tribunal’s lifecycle in sight, the international community must guard against compromising the legacy of justice, the ending of impunity and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia.
Presenting the ninth annual report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Judge ERIK MØSE, President of the Tribunal, said that, although only five months had elapsed since the Tribunal President and Prosecutor briefed the Council on 29 June, much had been achieved. The Rwanda Tribunal had submitted a revised version of its completion strategy to the Council last week. During the period under review in the annual report, the Tribunal had delivered five trial judgements involving nine accused. Another judgement had been delivered on 15 July. That brought the total number of trial judgements rendered by the Court since the first trial started in January 1997 to 17, involving 23 persons. The next judgement was expected in early 2005. Never before had the judicial output been so high.
In 2003, he said, the Rwanda Tribunal commenced four new trials involving a total of 10 accused. That had been due to the arrival of five ad litem judges that year. Security Council resolution 1512 (2003) had increased their number to nine. The remaining ad litem judges arrived in Arusha in September 2004 and had made it possible to start two new trials. In 2004, the Court started three new trials concerning six detainees. Consequently, 25 persons were currently on trial. He reiterated his appreciation to the Council for having adopted resolution 1512. He highlighted three points relevant to the completion strategy, namely: that the Tribunal now had a total of completed and ongoing cases involving 48 accused, which meant that it had reached the number that had been promised in the completion strategy last April; that strategy had projected that three trials would be completed in 2004, which had been achieved; and three trials involving six accused were set to commence from May to September this year, which had also been accomplished.
He, therefore, was pleased to confirm that the Tribunal was “on schedule”. It intended to complete all trials by 2008, as required by resolutions 1503 and 1534. He then provided a detailed assessment of the trials mentioned above. In order to ensure maximum judicial output, it was important to find the right balance between the multi-accused and single-accused trials. The eight trials currently in progress were taking place in three courtrooms only, which made the task difficult and required careful long-term planning. Single-accused trials were normally slotted in when there were breaks in the voluminous trials (twin-tracking), or they were heard in morning or afternoon shifts simultaneous with other trails. He was anxious to ensure the steady progress of the five multi-accused trials. Once those were completed, there would be only single-accused cases left. From then on, the task would be easier.
The experience with the Trial Committee, composed of representatives from Chambers, the Prosecution and the Registry, had continued to be very positive, he said. The Committee was in contact with the various defence teams and had facilitated the trial readiness of several cases by identifying problems and solving them in a proactive way. The Tribunal, however, could only comply with the time frames established by Council resolution 1503 if it was provided with sufficient resources. Unfortunately, certain Member States had failed to pay their contributions to the two ad hoc Tribunals. Consequently, the recruitment of new staff to the Tribunals had been frozen. So far, that had not had any significant effect on the completion strategy. It had been able to keep the trials going, but the situation was becoming critical. More than 80 staff members had left the Tribunal since the freeze was imposed. The number of vacancies was increasing every month, and many vacant posts were directly linked to the judicial production of the Tribunal.
As of today, there were nine vacant posts for legal officers in the three Chambers, he continued. Their recruitment had been put on hold, as a consequence of the freeze. Those nine legal officers would have worked under the direct supervision of the judges. Several permanent and ad litem judges had no associate legal officers. The judges were sharing legal officers through ad hoc arrangements. That situation could not continue. The Prosecutor could inform the Council about the serious problems with which his office was faced. Also, the Registry’s ability to provide support to the judicial process had been reduced. Furthermore, the lack of resources affected the defence teams. It was paradoxical that indispensable financial contributions were not paid, when the Tribunal was doing its utmost to complete its task.
He said that the Prosecutor would deal with the indicted and suspected persons who remained at large, as well as his plans for transfer to national jurisdictions. On the basis of the prosecution’s requests for transfer, it would be for the Trial Chambers to decide whether a person should be transferred. A comparison between the present and previous version of the completion strategy showed that, in spite of the commencement of several new trails, the number of detainees awaiting trail had increased from 15 to 18. That was not surprising. Three accused had been transferred to Arusha since April 2004, and they were previously in the groups of indicted or suspected persons at large. The situation was simply that three fugitives accused of genocide had been arrested.
The Tribunal appreciated the cooperation of the Rwandan authorities, he said. Last year, he had reported that there had been a steady flow of witnesses from Kigali to Arusha. He was pleased to state that the situation had remained the same. On request, the Court had also received documentation from the judicial proceedings in Rwanda, in order to evaluate fully the credibility of the witnesses. That was important to the integrity of the proceedings in Arusha. It was also essential that both parties –- the prosecution and the defence –- received the necessary assistance to carry out their investigations in Rwanda. Overall, cooperation within the Tribunal was excellent. The President, the Prosecutor, and the Registrar met regularly in the Coordination Council and were in frequent contact. The Tribunal staff continued to be committed and hardworking. He expressed his deep appreciation to the Security Council for its support to the Tribunal, which also thanked the Secretary-General for his continued support.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that the completion strategy had two components: the trial in The Hague of the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes; and the referral of mid- and low-level perpetrators to domestic courts. Although significant progress had been achieved on both fronts during the reporting period, it should be stressed that a number of obstacles outside the Tribunal’s control might still derail the completion strategy. The first such obstacle was the lack of cooperation among States, mainly in the arrest and transfer of persons indicted by the Tribunal. There were still 20 fugitives at large, and most of them should be tried at The Hague. There were a few of them, however, who could be tried by domestic jurisdictions, and the relevant motions for their transfer had already been filed or would soon be filed.
Among the fugitives, she said, were three individuals mentioned repeatedly in Security Council resolutions, unfortunately, to no avail. Those were: Radovan Karadzic; Ratko Mladic; and Ante Gotovina. In addition to those three key indictees, the other most senior fugitives were Borovcanin, Pandurevic, Popovic and Nikolic, who had been indicted for the Srebrenica genocide. There were also the four generals: Lukic; Lazarevic; Pavkovic; and Djordjevic. They had been indicted for their direct individual responsibility, as well as for their command responsibility in the crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. The objectives of the Tribunal, as established by the Security Council, would not be fulfilled before those accused were tried in The Hague. The Ministers of the European Union had made the same assessment when they stated on 12 July that, “the work of the ICTY would not be completed without the arrest and transfer to The Hague of key indictees such as Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Ante Gotovina”.
Furthermore, she said, the delays in the arrests and transfers of those fugitives made the planning of the trials more complicated and undermined judicial efficiency, as it was not possible to join similar cases in one trial. For instance, Karadzic could have been tried together with Momcilo Krajisnik, another former senior leader of Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose trial was ongoing. Lukic, Lazarevic, Pavkovic and Djordjevic could still be tried together with Mulutinovic, Ojdanic and Sainovic, who were awaiting trial in the Tribunal’s detention unit. The situation was similar for Gotovina. His two co-accused, Cermak and Markac, were also awaiting trail. Borovcanin, Pandurevic, Popovic and Nikolic should be tried with Beara, who had recently been arrested and transferred. It was of crucial importance, therefore, for the completion strategy time line that those arrests be carried out as soon as possible, so as to avoid duplication of efforts and the waste of resources.
She said that the Governments of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina had the main responsibility for bringing those fugitives to The Hague. A vast majority of them –- probably more than a dozen -– lived freely in Serbia. Prime Minister Kostunica had made it clear that he was not willing to arrest fugitives, but only to try to convince them to surrender voluntarily. On 13 July, the sealed indictment against Goran Hadzic, the former President of the so-called Republika Srpska Krajina, in Croatia, had been given to the relevant authorities in Belgrade. They had also been provided with the precise whereabouts of Hadzic. Hours later, her investigators had observed that he had been informed and had left immediately. He had since disappeared. On 8 October, detailed information about the location of Ljubisa Beara, a close aide to Ratko Mladic indicted in 2002, had been forwarded to the Serbian Prime Minister. Beara had not opposed arrest, and he had been transferred to The Hague on the night of 9 October. Obviously, that arrest had occurred only because her office had provided all information on the fugitive’s location and because Belgrade had known that her staff was monitoring Beara’s resistance. Furthermore, she had been due to address the European Union Ministers two days later.
Only such immediate pressure seemed to produce results, she said. Her office, however, could not be expected to do the same for each and every fugitive. Furthermore, for their own domestic political reasons, the Serbian authorities had presented that arrest as a voluntary surrender, thereby underlining their official policy of voluntary surrender. But, that policy had not produced any result, so far, and that was in blatant contradiction with the country’s international obligation, namely, article 29 of the Tribunal Statute and numerous Security Council resolutions. The Serbian Government had deliberately chosen to ignore its legal obligations. Its consistent failure to cooperate had again been brought to the Council’s attention on 4 May, in a report forwarded by the President. Meanwhile, the Serbian Government’s attitude of defiance towards the Tribunal, which also challenged the Council, had not changed. All in all, the lack of cooperation of Belgrade remained “the single most important obstacle” facing the Tribunal in the implementation of the completion strategy.
Whereas most fugitives had found a safe haven in Serbia, there were still some residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or who travelled regularly to that country, she said. They continued to enjoy the protection of powerful networks. The High Representative had taken energetic measures against those networks, including the beginning of structural reform at the State and entity level. But, it remained the case that, nine years after Dayton, the authorities of Republika Srpska had not apprehended a single individual indicted by the Tribunal. That raised fundamental questions about both the willingness of Republika Srpska’s leaders to match their pledges with firm action to cooperate with the Tribunal. It also now confirmed that there were “fundamental systemic weaknesses” built into the law enforcement and security structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in particular, the Republika Srpska. Those must be tackled so that the structures might finally help, and not hinder, the country in cooperating with the Tribunal.
She said that the ministries of defence and of the interior of Republika Srpska could not, by any reasonable standards, be judged to have helped in that regard. The report of the Srebrenica Commission imposed upon the Republika Srpska by the international community, once published, should help raise awareness about the genocide and the need to punish those responsible.
The multinational stabilization force (SFOR) had supported the Tribunal over the years, and it would soon have completed it mandate, which would be succeeded by the European Force (EUFOR), she noted. It was greatly frustrating that SFOR had to leave while Radovan Karadzic was still at large, especially since all SFOR commanders had promised her that they would arrest him during their tenure. Success would come, however, only when the relevant authorities in Serbia and Republika Srpska finally worked together with international forces. That type of transborder cooperation should be further encouraged throughout the region. In that context, the transfer of Miroslav Bralo on 12 November had been a positive development. That accused had been indicted on a sealed arrest warrant since 1995. There had been strong indications that he was in Croatia, but that had been denied by the Croatian authorities. The seal was lifted on 12 October, and he was surrendered in Bosnia and Herzegovina just one month later.
While most of the fugitives were in Serbia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was one senior accused who had been seen repeatedly in Croatia as recently as last summer, namely Ante Gotovina. He had disappeared in June 2001, just after he had been informed by the Croatian authorities of a sealed indictment against him. In the course of this spring, Croatia had apparently stepped up its efforts to locate and arrest Gotovina, but doubts could be raised about the efficiency of those measures, or even their seriousness, as they had not produced any concrete results so far, not even relating to his whereabouts inside or outside of Croatia. On the other hand, there were strong indications that Gotovina, whose public image of a national hero persisted, continued to benefit from a well-organized support network, including within State structures. It was of paramount importance for the completion strategy and for the overall achievements of the Yugoslavia Tribunal that Gotovina be brought to justice in The Hague. That was the only remaining obstacle to the cooperation of Croatia with the Tribunal. Should international pressure recede in that case, that would be perceived as a signal that the international community might no longer be interested in having the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes, including Karadzic and Mladic, brought before the Tribunal.
She said that the arrest of all fugitives was also a measure of the States’ ability to proceed with domestic trials and was indicative of their commitment to the rule of law. The second key component of the completion strategy was the deferral to the States of the former Yugoslav of indicted and non-indicted cases concerning medium- and low-level indictees. The Tribunal, however, must be cautious that the States to which cases were transferred were able and willing to proceed with trials, and that such trials would be led in accordance with the highest judicial standards. The Tribunal had been actively supporting the establishment of specialized war crimes courts throughout the region. The Prosecutor’s Office had contributed its expertise to training seminars for prosecutors and judges, so as to enhance the capability of national jurisdictions to try war crimes in fair and credible trails. She continued to support the efforts of the Office of the High Representative to establish a war crimes chamber within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to try the accused of lower and intermediate rank who were originally indicted by the Tribunal. Ultimately, however, the proper functioning of those institutions was beyond her control.
There was a legitimate concern that a country like Serbia, which was not willing to arrest indictees, either would not be interested in, or capable of, trying alleged war criminals domestically, she said. The networks supporting persons accused of war crimes were so powerful there that they could interfere with the judicial proceedings, including by intimidating witnesses, exerting political pressure on judges and prosecutors, or even by threatening the stability of the country. Both in Serbia proper and in Kosovo, aggressive nationalist rhetoric was being used in smear campaigns against the Tribunal and its Prosecutor. The message was always the same: if the authorities cooperated with the Tribunal, that would destabilize the country. The groups orchestrating such propaganda were talented in threatening or causing violence and in blaming the Tribunal for it. The international community, and the democratically elected authorities in the region, should take further decisive measures against those networks.
She said that, while selecting the jurisdiction to which it intended to refer cases back, the Tribunal would have to consider the general climate in the countries concerned. It would also have to take into account the interests of the victims. In accordance with the principle that justice should be rendered as closely as possible to the victims and to the place where the crimes had been committed, the Prosecutor’s policy was that, where possible, a case should be referred to the authorities of the State where the crimes had taken place. By the end of the year, 11 indicted cases concerning 20 accused would have been proposed to the Chambers for transfer to domestic jurisdictions in accordance with Rule 11 bis of the Tribunal Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The third area of concern affecting the completion strategy was the provision of adequate resources.
The lack of cooperation of States, the state of preparedness of domestic jurisdiction, and the financial crisis were the three major factors impacting negatively on the completion strategy. She remained committed, however, to it and to its time frame. The first major milestone in the implementation of the strategy would be the closure of all investigations by the end of the year. All of the six remaining investigations would be completed before 31 December, with a number of new indictments issued. Since those indictments could be joined with two existing cases, however, they would only result in a maximum of four additional trials to be carried out in The Hague. On the prosecution side, efforts were continuously made to support the judges in their work to streamline the procedures and to increase the trials’ efficiency. Her Office was ready to begin five trials and it was involved in five other ongoing trials.
Those efforts would have no effect, however, unless all accused were brought to The Hague in time to be tried before the end of 2008, she stressed. Upon the start of the second phase of the completion strategy in 2005, if some of the most importance indictees, like Karadzic, Mladic and Gotovina, were not arrested and transferred in the coming months, it might be necessary to revise the target dates of the completion strategy. Next year would also mark the tenth anniversary of three key events: the Srebrenica genocide; the Dayton Agreement; and the indictment against Karadzic and Mladic. If the international community could not prevent the genocide, it should at least not allow that and the other most serious crimes to go unpunished, she stressed.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that, five months ago in his last report to the Council, he had projected that the prosecution would wrap up the trial of 10 accused persons before the end of the year, and of four others early in 2005. He had indicated the Tribunal’s readiness to commence the trial of six other accused before the end of 2005, and to conclude its investigations into new targets by the end of 2004. It had also expected to determine new indictments, if any, by October 2005, and to initiate consultations with Rwanda and other countries on the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions. He was happy to report progress in those matters. The prosecution had since closed its case in the Military I Trial and in the Butare Trial, totalling 10 accused. It expected to close the prosecution phase in the Government II trial of four accused by June, 2005. The multiple-accused trials presented a big challenge to the completion, because of their complexity and the logistics of keeping them going. As projected, the prosecution opened its case in respect of six more accused in the second half of the year.
He said he remained committed to the deadline for concluding investigations by the end of the year and the filing of any new indictment that might arise by the last quarter of 2005. His Office was also preparing for trail the cases of the remaining detainees, who now numbered 18. It would be ready to commence new trials in respect of at least eight of those detainees in 2005. In addition, the trial of four other accused should be ready to commence by January 2005. He had also initiated discussions with Rwanda and other States on the proposals for the transfer of cases. Meanwhile, his Office was preparing the case files that had been identified for transfer. Apart from Rwanda, however, it was not proving easy to find States ready, able, and willing to take on cases for the prosecution from the Tribunal. The option in the choice of States was limited considerably.
Apprehension and transfer of indicted fugitives remained fraught with difficulties, he said. Ephrem Setako, who had been arrested earlier this year in the Netherlands, had finally been transferred to the Tribunal one week ago. There were still 14 other indicted persons at large. The level of international support by States in which such persons resided had fallen below what was required for a successful arrest programme. The bulk of the fugitives continued to be based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several attempts by the Tribunal to dialogue on that matter had elicited no response from the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, save for the isolated case of Yusuf Munyakazi, who had been surrendered earlier this year. He would continue, nevertheless, with such efforts, and report back to the Council on the situation. Meanwhile, the Council should exhort Member States to live up to their legal obligations in that respect and to comply with Council resolution 1503 (2004) to arrest indicted fugitives in their territories and transfer them to the Tribunal.
He said he remained committed to implementing the completion strategy and saw no need for any further revision of it. The Tribunal was on schedule, although he had previously alerted the Council to the potentially adverse impact on the freeze on recruitment on the success of the completion strategy. He had stated then that the trials could not proceed optimally unless adequate resources were provided for the Tribunal’s core activity, namely for prosecution. Next year would pose a real challenge. He expected in 2005 to have the highest number ever on trial simultaneously, and he did not expect that peak to decline before 2006. The number of appeals cases, currently at 14, was expected to rise considerably with the conclusion of each new trial, as every decision led to one, and sometimes two, appeals. It was anticipated, therefore, that in 2005 the Tribunal might be dealing with up to 30 appeals.
Intense work would also continue on the preparation of cases for trial and transfer, he said. While 2004 had seen some progress in that regard, it would be a great challenge to sustain that progress and deal with the anticipated increased workload while it continued to suffer the recruitment freeze and resource constraints. The recruitment freeze had hit the Prosecutor’s Office particularly hard. Although a separate Office of Prosecutor had been created by the Council last year, the recruitment of the staff for the office had been interrupted by the freeze. Only half of the complement of six support staff was in place. Likewise, the new Appeals Unit established by the Council was below full capacity and, in fact, only 50 per cent of its strength had been budgeted, owing to the freeze. In the Prosecution Section, the interruption of recruitment had left 17 vacancies. Recent developments had added the post of Chief of Prosecutions to the vacancies, but that was also subjected to the freeze on replacement.
He stressed that filling all of those positions was crucial to meeting the challenge of proper completion, as those posts were directly concerned with the critical and core function of prosecution. A way must be found to lift that recruitment freeze, in order to avoid putting the completion strategy at risk. The Tribunal would be hard put to prepare the new cases, continue ongoing trials and deal with the new and increased appeals workload, together with the transfer programme, when its capacity was so low.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) acknowledged the Tribunals’ contributions to United Nations efforts in the fight against impunity. Despite the complexity of the Tribunals’ mandate, they were reaching the goal of ensuring that persons responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity were held accountable in just, fair and public trials that met the standards of due process. To meet the goals of the completion strategy, the Tribunals had to be able to try the most senior leaders. As long as many of them remained at large, the Tribunals would be unable to complete their missions. A key component of the Tribunals’ work related to the referring of lower- and mid-level accused to national jurisdictions. He praised the significant steps taken in that regard.
Concerning the Rwanda Tribunal, he said the biggest challenge was the completion of its mandate within its time frame. To meet such a challenge would require the international community’s full commitment. The transfer of low- and mid-level cases to national jurisdiction also deserved the international community’s attention. The implementation of the completion strategy was on course. The move from impunity to accountability, the establishment of the facts, justice for victims, and the strengthening of the rule of law would contribute to peace, stability and long-term national reconciliation.
LARBI KATTI (Algeria) said that, since the last presentations to the Council, progress had been achieved towards ending impunity. Yet, the completion strategies for the Tribunals’ work, as adopted by the Security Council, had met with great difficulty and had not improved since the last Council meeting on the subject, owing to the non-payment of Member States to the Tribunals. Expansion of the two bodies had been kept to a minimum with the recruitment freeze, thereby preventing the courts from carrying out their mandates. That situation was unacceptable, and Member States should fully discharge their responsibilities in that regard.
He said there had been some positive developments, however, and he looked forward to the identification of those cases to be transferred to national jurisdictions. Also important was that the States concerned cooperate with the Tribunals, both regarding documentation and arrests, and bringing to justice the accused. The Council should see to it that that took place, as the authority of the two courts was at stake. He appreciated the cooperation rendered by the Rwandan Government, and he encouraged the Republika of Srpska to do the same.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said his delegation supported the work of both Tribunals. On the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, he welcomed steps to stay on course in order to meet the goals of the completion strategy. The Council had heard, however, a sobering account. Regarding financing, he said the freeze on recruitment was beginning to affect the Tribunal’s work and would only get worse. The need for all States to pay dues was obvious and the failure to do so was jeopardizing the completion strategy and would lead to more costs. Concerning the transfer of cases to the region, he said the Tribunal had done excellent work to prepare national courts to receive cases, as evidenced by the establishment of a chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He hoped countries in the region would develop the capacity to receive cases from the Tribunal in the near future.
Regarding the key indictees, he stressed the need for the three key indictees to be tried before the Tribunal. The replacement of the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) by EUFOR should not result in any diminution in the resolve to arrest Mr. Karadzic. The Tribunal’s work was dependent on the arrest of indictees and their transfer to The Hague. Twenty indictees at large were far too many. Karadzic spent most of his time in Republika Sprska and moved form place to place, with a network of people protecting and financing him. Why was it that no one knew where he was or had been? Why was it that the arms of Government and local figures were not prepared to volunteer information?
Real time intelligence was needed, he said. Did those in authority believe they could outwait justice, or that continued avoidance of arrest promoted reconciliation for the Balkans? The same went for Mr. Mladic, who was known to be in Serbia. It was disappointing that Serbia and Montenegro remained most reluctant to cooperate. Cooperation was a legal obligation. Yet, certain individuals remained free to move around the territory. While Croatia’s cooperation was encouraging, it could not be regarded as complete until Mr. Gotovina was arrested and transferred to The Hague. Cooperation was about ending impunity, bringing to justice individuals indicted of horrendous crimes, and furthering reconciliation within and between Balkan States. Non-cooperation would frustrate any aspirations of the authorities to closer integration with Euro Atlantic structures.
On the Rwanda Tribunal, he welcomed its efforts at improving efficiency and the changes that have taken place in the last year. The completion strategy was at the centre of the Tribunal’s overall management. The freeze on recruitment would impact its efficiency. The need for Member States to meet financial obligations was obvious in that regard. The number of fugitives was too large; 15 was far too high. In that regard, the transfer of cases to national jurisdiction was a sensible strategy and he welcomed view on the readiness of Rwandan courts to accept such cases. In terms of the rule of law, the question of ending impunity was fundamental. Governments had the ultimate responsibility for upholding the rule of law.
HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil) said that, almost 10 years after the Tribunals’ establishment, there was no question about the importance of their contribution to international law. They could be seen as successful examples of the international community’s commitment to ensure that those responsible for the most heinous crimes against the very essence of human dignity answered to them in public trials, which met the highest standards of international justice and due process. The international community faced the challenge of adapting the inherent limits of ad hoc judicial arrangements to the principle of due process and the rights of both victims and the accused, as well as the overall objective of ending impunity. The Tribunals must remain committed to the goals of resolution 1534, while concentrating their resources and efforts on ensuring the prosecution of the most senior leaders responsible for such crimes. The transfer of cases involving lower ranking officials to local courts should reflect the actual conditions of those judicial institutions to provide independent judgements.
He said that, in light of the difficulties in implementing the completion strategies, insisting on rigid deadlines might frustrate justice, rather than assist the international community in ending impunity. The Council might eventually need to adjust those timetables, in order to allow the Tribunals to fulfil their mandates. He had serious concern over the reports of lack of cooperation by interested countries. United Nations Member States should not disregard their obligations under the Charter and the Tribunals’ Statutes, as well as the relevant Security Council resolutions. He urged the Member States directly involved in the Tribunals’ work to fully cooperate with them, assuring the prompt surrender of accused persons and providing the necessary documentation. Moreover, it was essential that the Tribunals be able to rely on adequate resources and staff. Lack of sufficient financial resources threatened accomplishment of the completion strategies.
GUAN JIAN (China) commended the two Tribunals for the steps they had taken to implement the completion strategy. The timely transfer of cases involving lower- and mid-level indictees was of crucial importance, and would help to ensure that the Tribunals met their time lines. The transfer process should be stepped up when practicable. He hoped that war crimes chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be operational by January 2005 and expected that Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Rwanda would be ready to receive appropriate cases.
Expressing appreciation for the Tribunals’ efforts in strengthening judicial capacity-building in the regions, he said the Tribunals and the countries concerned should contribute to the establishment of national chambers. He hoped the judges of the Tribunals, while ensuring fair trials, would further enhance the efficiency of the trials. It was necessary for both trial chambers and the prosecutors to make specific arrangements to ensure the achievement of those objectives.
ANACLETO REI A. LACANILAO (Philippines) noted with satisfaction that the Tribunals continued to improve the efficiency of their proceedings and were focusing on the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes. He commended the efforts to establish institutions and rule of law mechanisms to prevent impunity and promote justice. The situation of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal was a more hopeful one, and he hoped it would continue to work towards achieving the completion strategy. He commended that Tribunal’s efforts in contributing expertise to the training of judges and prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia, in order to enhance the capacity of national jurisdictions to try pending cases. He also commended the efforts to establish a war crimes chamber within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bulk of the cases would need to be tried in national courts, and the ability of the Tribunals to refer cases to competent jurisdictions would enhance the competency of national governments to bring justice to the region and promote healing.
He said he had heard again the plea of the Tribunals for adequate personnel. The Council had been informed last June that the hiring freeze had seriously affected the Tribunals’ ability to take on new staff to meet the increased workload. The freeze had also forbid hiring to replace essential personnel. It was imperative to rectify that severe staffing shortage, hopefully in the near future, as that situation could affect the completion strategy. He also hoped that the Tribunals would faithfully comply with the time lines set by the Council. Major fugitives had not yet been brought to justice, and delays in their arrests would adversely impact the Tribunals’ work. He called on all delegations concerned to cooperate fully with the courts, so that the trials could end by 2008 and the Tribunals could close by 2010. He would not want to see any further adjustment to the completion strategy.
WOLFGANG F.H. TRAUTWEIN (Germany) welcomed the significant progress made in implementing the completion strategies in accordance with the time frame and other parameters established by Council resolutions 1503 and 1534. Cooperation by governments, notably by those in the region, was imperative. He urged all States concerned to fully cooperate with the Tribunals. Overshadowing the progress achieved was the Tribunals’ financial situation. The well-known funding problem had two interrelated components, namely, the question of whether the amount of money spent on the Tribunals was proportional to the benefits derived from the Tribunals, and the poor level of honouring assessed contributions. Every effort should be made to secure the Tribunals’ effective functioning. The combined effort of the Tribunals and of the United Nations budgeting and oversight mechanisms provided guarantees that the Tribunals worked at acceptable levels of efficiency. It was impossible to put a price tag on their contributions to making peace and reconciliation sustainable, and towards the re-establishment of justice and decency.
From now to the end of the completion strategies, the Tribunals would be hard pressed to meet all expectations and would require all possible assistance, he said. That implied intensified dialogue, as envisaged by resolution 1534. The Council should consider holding expert meetings not only in New York, but also at the seat of the Tribunals. It should also consider agreeing on a steadier, elected chairmanship of the working group, instead of a monthly rotating one. Germany was unwavering in its commitment to promoting peace and justice.
JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said that the Council, having been involved in the Tribunals’ establishment in 1993 and 1994, welcomed the important work being done to ensure that justice was served and that reconciliation occurred. It also noted the important contribution being made by the Tribunals to the development of international criminal law. All of that was an essential contribution to the work of the International Criminal Court, which was now beginning its work, on an ongoing basis, in the service of the international community. Also welcome had been the fact that both Tribunals had made clear progress in applying their respective completion strategies. Work had sped up in both Tribunals, perhaps even more so in the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. The pace of the work done by the judges had also considerably hastened. He was also pleased at steps being taken to refer cases of lesser importance to national jurisdictions in due time, once those jurisdictions had been duly prepared.
Underscoring the mission for which both courts had been established, he said it was essential for that mission to be carried out effectively. That meant that the completion strategies should not inadvertently become mere exit strategies at any cost. They should not become exit strategies that did not ensure that those most responsible for the serious events in the Balkans and Rwanda remained untried. He was particularly concerned at the lack of full cooperation by some countries. That posed a challenge to the Security Council, which should remain vigilant and demanding on that point, as well as to the international community and the United Nations. Both Tribunals should retain their respective strategies under continued monitoring and, if necessary, they should be reviewed and adapted, as deemed appropriate. He also highlighted the need for all Member States to honour their contributions commitments, fully and on time. He also called for periodic reviews from the Secretariat on the recruitment freeze, as well as for the Secretary-General to explain that decision and why it had not been possible to lift that freeze, either partially or fully.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) welcomed the Tribunals’ efforts to speed up procedures through the rational use of available resources. Increasing the number of ad litem judges to the Rwanda Tribunal had helped in speeding up its work. The Tribunals had taken into account the international community’s desire to see the work done on time. He also welcomed the fact that the Tribunals had fully included the completion strategies in their activities. It seemed, however, that they were faced with real-time structural constraints, which had introduced a certain amount of uncertainty into their tasks. Such constraints included the freeze on recruitment. In that regard, the Security Council should find the ways and means to solve such problems. Regarding the capacity of national judicial systems called on to take on secondary cases, he said the seminars organized by the Tribunals would enhance the national capacities of the countries concerned. The fact remained, however, that there was issue of guaranteeing respect for international law. Deferring some cases to third party tribunals should be given due consideration.
What he feared most, he said, was the transfer of a case to overburdened and politicized national structures. In that regard, he encouraged discussions with third-party States to ensure that those accused were given due process. He urgently appealed to the governments concerned to hand over those involved as soon as possible to the Tribunals. In so doing, they would be making a valuable contribution to promoting respect for the rule of law.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that, from the outset, he had supported the concept of the completion strategy, which was in the interest of justice and the victims and, hence, in peace and reconciliation. He welcomed the initial measures being taken in that regard. The pace of trials and sentencing had been sustained in both jurisdictions. The renewal of mandates for former Yugoslavia Tribunal judges, as authorized by the General Assembly recently, would contribute to the conclusion of cases before that court. There were reasons to be pleased at the efforts of both Tribunals, but the many difficulties should not be overlooked. He would remind States of their obligations. First among them was to respect their duty to finance both Tribunals. The paradox lay in the fact that States clearly supported the completion strategies, on the one hand, yet, on the other hand, implementation of those strategies had been slowed as a result of payment delays. The situation must not be allowed to continue, and he noted the Secretary-General’s assurance to find a definitive solution to halt the departure of qualified officers
Turning to a second obligation, he urged all States to cooperate fully with the Tribunals, he said. Progress had bee noted recently, but the assessments of outstanding arrests and indictments had been disturbing. The lack of cooperation on the part of Serbia and Montenegro, the Republika of Srpska, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been made known to the Council, must cease as soon as possible. The Tribunals’ mission could not be completed, as long as the high-level accused remained at large. Resolution 1534 had provided for increased cooperation of those countries concerned with the Rwanda Tribunal in investigations related to the Rwandese Patriotic Army, in order to bring to justice all senior leaders and other accused persons. In the former Yugoslavia, it had been disturbing to learn that effective and well-placed networks still protected those responsible for the major crimes, 10 years later. Also disturbing had been reports of witness intimidation, including in Kosovo.
He said that the climate of intimidation and the general flouting of the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s authority had begged the Council to question the environment in which some national jurisdictions were to try cases involving low- and mid-level indictees. For the transfer of cases to take place in conditions that respected international norms, the international community must be further mobilized to provide greater assistance and monitoring. In that context, regional legal cooperation must also be strongly encouraged and witness protection programmes established. The establishment of the Tribunals had been fundamental stages in the history of justice and civilization. On a daily basis, however, their efforts were met with frustration and weariness. The ideal of serving justice for the victims and contributing in that way to peace-building and reconciliation in war-torn regions must be constantly borne in mind. The Tribunals’ work could also help to avoid a repetition of those same atrocities. That ideal was more alive and more important than ever, and the Council, therefore, must spare no effort in ensuring that the Tribunals fully accomplished their mission and contributed decisively to the development of international criminal justice.
SERGEY N. KAREV (Russian Federation) said the Council’s attention to the activities of the Tribunals was yielding positive results. Both Tribunals over the past year had intensified the implementation of their completion strategies. Internal reforms were under way to speed up the handling of cases. The national court systems of the relevant States were being strengthened to allow for the transfer of cases. He welcomed the Tribunals’ efforts regarding practical steps to transfer cases to national courts. One of the major conditions for the completion strategy was ensuring full scale cooperation from States with the Tribunals. In that regard, he stressed the need not only for the arrest and transfer of individuals, but also the need to ensure compliance with all State obligations stemming from the Tribunals’ Statute, including gaining access to records.
He expressed concern regarding the financing of the Tribunals. This year, the Russian Federation had paid in full its assessment to the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. He called on other States to follow that example. The significant gap between the approved budget and the payment of assessed contributions was becoming a serious obstacle to the implementation of the completion strategy.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said the re-election of 12 out of the 14 judges serving on the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, while positive, would not resolve all problems related to the implementation of the completion strategy. There were several other factors coming into play, including full cooperation by all relevant countries, strict observance of the seniority criterion and the transfer of cases involving medium- and low-level accused to national jurisdictions. Cooperation, in the form of arresting and handing over the principal fugitives, was by far the most important element in the equation. He, therefore, strongly encouraged all States that still needed to meet their obligations to do their utmost in that regard.
He had noted the institution of judicial proceedings more than five years after the end of the Kosovo conflict in what constituted the first case brought against Kosovo Albanians. It appeared, however, that none of the three individuals involved were at the decision-making level. In light of recent reports that some of the former Kosovo Liberation Army leaders were openly engaged in the province’s political life, he wanted more information on the Tribunal’s intended policy in that regard. All those suspected of having committed crimes within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction should be brought to justice.
While an increased number of guilty pleas entered by those accused at both Tribunals would facilitate compliance with the terms of the completion strategies, efforts to reach the objective should not result in compromising internationally recognized principles of due process, fairness and the rights of both the accused and the victims. He noted with concern the information that 17 indictees and 16 suspects were still at large, many of them without any reasonable expectation of ever being apprehended and brought to justice. In that regard, he asked what approach was envisaged by the Rwanda Tribunal in that respect. He expressed support for the establishment of a mechanism of consultations among all judicial bodies put in place with United Nations assistance.
MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said that the Secretary-General had aptly pointed out to the General Assembly that the rule of law as a mere concept was not enough -- laws must be put into practice and permeate the fabric of our lives. The two Tribunals were doing exemplary work. He strongly believed that there should be no impunity for crimes against humanity, including genocide. He, therefore, supported all efforts aimed at enhancing the efficiency of both courts and promoting implementation of their completion strategies. He had been heartened to hear that the former Yugoslavia Tribunal would be able to complete all investigations by the end of the year, and all trial work at the first instance by the end of 2008, in accordance with the completion strategy. It might also be possible for the Tribunal to complete trials and judgements, in the range of 65 to 75 per cent, by 2008, depending on the progress of present and future trials. He had also taken note of some of the obstacles affecting achievement of the completion strategies, including the recruitment freeze and the lack of full cooperation by some States.
He said that the arrest and prosecution of at-large indictees, especially for genocide, was equally important for the completion of the work of the two Tribunals. The transfer of lower-ranking cases to national jurisdictions would help the two Tribunals concentrate on the most senior leaders suspected of committing the most serious crimes. The Tribunals were performing important work in the context of the international rule of law and justice. The courts continued to send a powerful message of responsibility and accountability. International support was needed to meet the complete strategies.
RODRIGO DONOSO (Chile) noted with concern the lack of cooperation on the part of the former Yugoslavia. The Security Council must draw the appropriate conclusions to avoid the resulting impunity. The completion strategy called for the war crimes courts to be established at the soonest. Considerable monitoring was necessary to ensure that international standards were complied with. The appearance before the Tribunal of the three main indictees was key, he added.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he noted that that jurisdictional body was in a position to conclude all trials by 2008. His delegation supported the completion strategies of both Tribunals and supported their efforts towards that end.
Security-Council President JOHN C. DANFORTH (United States), in his national capacity, said that everyone must work together to ensure success of the Council’s endorsed completion strategies for both Tribunals, namely, to successfully complete the trials by 2008 and the appeals by 2010. Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia must fulfil their legal obligation to cooperate fully with the Tribunal by apprehending all indictees and transferring them to The Hague. The Republika Srpska had failed to render a single fugitive indictee to the Tribunal, and Serbia and Montenegro’s cooperation had deteriorated to a standstill in the last 12 months. Upholding the obligation to the Tribunal was a prerequisite for further integration into the European community. Lack of cooperation also undermined the confidence of the international community over those countries’ ability to fully and effectively prosecute war crimes. Until that occurred, he did not see domestic trials as a realistic option.
He called on all in Serbia to act immediately to apprehend and render to The Hague all fugitives hiding in that country. He continued to support efforts to help create domestic trials for low- and mid-level cases throughout the region. Significant work was being done in Sarajevo in that regard, and he urged other States to contribute to the Tribunal. Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he commended the increased pace of trails, and urged all States, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Kenya, to fulfil their international obligation to apprehend and transfer to the Tribunal all indictees found within their countries. Those fugitive indictees continued to incite conflict in the Great Lakes region and must be actively pursued and apprehended, as called for repeatedly by the Council. The United States had completed the transfer of all of its contributions to the Tribunals and was committed to significant financial and diplomatic support to both.
Responding to Council comments, Judge MERON, President of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, addressing the question of the financial problem, said the origin of the freeze on posts in May 2004 was the result of the fact that far too many countries owed arrears regarding past and present obligations to Tribunals budgets. He had spent much time approaching individual governments urging them to pay their debts. That fund-raising campaign had met with some success. Compared to mid-November last year, the Tribunals’ financial situation was better, in terms of arrears. The Tribunal had reached a stage where continuing the freeze would wreak havoc on its work and result in greater expenses. He had appealed to the Secretary-General to reconsider the freeze. Given the better financial situation, he hoped the freeze could soon be lifted.
Regarding the transfer of cases to national courts, he said six motions had been presented by the Prosecutor. Additional motions would be presented. He was hopeful that movement of cases would be seen in early 2005. The Tribunal was on track and the Trial Chamber was considering the motions submitted.
Concerning the disruption of trials, he said the mandate of ad litem judges would expire in June 2005. He had approached the Legal Counsel regarding the election of a new group of ad litem judges in early 2005. He was confident that the Legal Counsel would consider that request soon. It would also be necessary to extend the mandates of individual ad litem judges involved in trials not completed by June 2005. The Tribunal would be requesting the extension of individual judges in due course. Regarding additional agreements on the enforcement of sentences, he said the Tribunal had 10 such agreements with 10 countries. As the number of people convicted grew, more agreements would be needed. The Registrar was actively involved in enlarging the circle of States with which the Tribunal had agreements.
He said he was grateful for the Council’s overarching message for support of the Tribunal’s work in trying to establish the principle of international criminal justice. He agreed that the completion strategy should not be an excuse for creating an impunity gap, and he was gratified by the acknowledgement of the reforms adopted by the Tribunal for cost-effective trials that respected human rights and international due process. He was also grateful for the concern expressed regarding the freeze, which could not be but disruptive to ensuring the completion strategy.
Judge MØSE, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, addressing the need for resources, said he had been heartened to hear the unified position of the Council’s concern about the problems being encountered in that regard. Its support would be a very helpful element in furthering accomplishment of the completion strategy. On the question of the agreement of sentences, he said his position mirrored that of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. It had the six agreements, but it would certainly welcome more. So far, one State had received all convicts, but there would be a need for more agreements, and he appreciated governments’ willingness to enter into such arrangements.
Concerning the transfer of cases to Rwanda, and its trial readiness, he said that the decision about whether or not to transfer cases was a judicial one for the Trial Chamber. At this stage, therefore, it was better for him not to go into too much detail in that regard, or to prejudice the decision of the individual Trial Chamber. He noted consider progress inside Rwanda in reaction to the death penalty, in view of the statements made by prominent circles in that country. The Prosecutor might have additional remarks on that issue. On the possibility of the Council meeting at the seat of the Tribunals, he thought that was an excellent idea. He reiterated the invitation to the Council to come to Arusha and witness, first hand, the daily life there and the commitment to achieving the task.
Ms. DEL PONTE, former Yugoslavia Tribunal Prosecutor, hoped that 2005, some 10 years since the crimes had been committed, would be a successful year in terms of the arrests of those primarily responsible for genocide in Srebrenica.
Mr. JALLOW, Rwanda Tribunal Prosecutor, addressing the issue of RPF investigations, said the Tribunal was conscious of the fact that investigations of allegations fell within its mandate. Investigations had been conducted over many years. At the current stage, the Tribunal had started a process of assessing material gathered over the years. On the issue of transfers, out of the
41 persons earmarked for transfer, the bulk would be for Rwanda, subject to conditions being satisfied for the transfer. The Trial Chamber would make an order for transfer, if it was assured that the persons would have an opportunity for fair trails. The bulk had been identified for Rwanda, as it was the place where the offences had been committed. It was also a matter of resources. A court needed to be place in Rwanda to handle such cases. An appropriate legal regime to cover the offences within the Tribunal’s mandate and legislation to exclude the application of the death penalty was also needed. While the Tribunal could not provide resources to any country, it could provide training.
MIOMIR ZUZUL, Foreign Minister of Croatia, said his country had been a leading proponent of establishing the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and had held, from the outset, that the prosecution of war crimes was fundamental to establishing a lasting peace in that part of Europe. Indeed, bringing to justice the perpetrators of war crimes was a precondition for confidence-building in the region. Recalling that his country had been attacked and subsequently partially occupied by the invading Yugoslav army, he said the Croatian people did not want a bloody conflict on their territory; they had been confronted with armed aggression, which had to be resisted. The Government had the solemn duty to protect its citizens. Croatia had exerted great restraint and had demonstrated real patience in searching for a negotiated settlement. In the end, it had no choice but to liberate its occupied territory by military force. At the time, the situation in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina was also quickly deteriorating.
He said that it was of central importance today to have a clear understanding of the events he had briefly described. The past must not be forgotten and, more importantly, it must be properly assessed and understood. Crimes had been committed, and justice demanded that the perpetrators were properly punished. His Government insisted on the individualization of responsibility for those criminal acts. It understood that the Tribunal had a central role in prosecuting those crimes, and that was precisely why it had strongly supported its establishment. Croatia viewed cooperation generally as a matter of enforcing the rule of law and, more specifically, as a matter of implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Tribunal’s Statute, and its own constitutional law. The facts clearly indicated that the Croatian Government had been fulfilling its commitment to comply with the Tribunal’s requests.
In March, he recalled, Croatia had extradited two of its generals to stand trial in The Hague. It had also secured the handover of six indicted Bosnian Croats, who subsequently appeared before the Tribunal and were now awaiting trial. More recently, the Bosnian Croat indictee, Miroslav Bralo, surrendered to the Tribunal authorities. Croatia’s position had been clear and unequivocal: its citizens were all obliged to fully cooperate with the Tribunal, and that included General Gotovina, who remained at large. His Government was in no way evading its own responsibility and it had, in fact, repeatedly appealed to the General to appear before the Court. Both the Court’s President and Prosecutor had described Croatia’s cooperation with the Tribunal as good, and that the case of General Gotovina remained the only obstacle to its full cooperation. He, once again, expressed his Government’s determination to fully cooperate with the Tribunal authorities, as well as with the international community, in resolving that outstanding issue.
He said his country was determined to fulfil its responsibilities as a mature democracy and would continue to insist that every citizen, without exception, comply with the country’s laws. In the end, those found guilty must be punished, regardless of their ethnic background. Croatia was investing great efforts to prepare its national courts to assume war crimes cases. He had been especially pleased that President Meron had recognized the efforts Croatia had made in that regard. That process had been developing in close cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal and had been designed to prepare judiciary officials to prosecute war crimes cases in a professional and unbiased manner. It was not widely known that, since 1992, the Croatian judiciary had independently conducted nearly 1,500 war crimes cases. The case involving Croatian General Mirko Norac, who had been sentenced to 12 years in prison, had demonstrated that Croatia’s courts were able to act both professionally and in an unbiased manner. His country also fully supported the Tribunal’s completion strategy. It was now prepared to assume part of the Tribunal’s work and it would continue to pursue a dialogue with the Tribunal on that issue, as well as to cooperate in training and technical assistance.
The Tribunal must perform the role of enforcer of justice and protector of memory, he said. It must be ensured that future generations were able to distinguish between victim and aggressor, and also between the right of a nation to self-defence and the individual crimes that might have been committed. There also existed the obligation to resolve the most difficult issues of the past. No nation could expect to build a better future, if it was unable to assume responsibility for its actions. Croatia was ready to do its part, and that was why it was a credible candidate for European Union membership.
ZORAN LONCAR, Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government of the Republic of Serbia, on behalf of Serbia and Montenegro, said Serbia and Montenegro fully accepted its obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal. In that vein, the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and the Government of the Republic of Serbia had been continuously taking steps to cooperate with the Tribunal. Following the parliamentary and presidential elections, the newly formed National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal had become operational in July 2004. Since then, some 53 persons had been granted waivers from their obligation to keep State, military or official secrets. Also, a large number of documents had been transmitted to the Office of the Prosecutor.
The competent authorities had been taking a series of concrete measures with a view to tracking down indicted persons who were, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, hiding in the country, he said. Regarding the case of Ratko Mladic, accused of crimes in Srebrenica, the authorities had been sparing no effort to detect his whereabouts. While a number of operations had been carried out so far, there had been no reliable proof that Mladic was in the territory of Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia and Montenegro was determined to continue taking all possible measures to investigate whether Mladic was hiding in the territory.
Since January 2003, some 24 indicted persons from Serbia and Montenegro had been transferred to the Tribunal’s custody, he said. The surrender of Ljubisa Beara had reinforced the public perception that voluntary surrender was the way to effectively carry out cooperation with The Hague. He added that the Government of Serbia had launched an investigation concerning the disappearance of Goran Hadzic. The trial for the “Ovcara” crime was currently being conducted in the Belgrade court.
Serbia and Montenegro was aware of its responsibilities concerning the Tribunal’s completion strategy, he said. In that respect, various efforts had been made to improve the capacity of the local courts and Prosecutor’s offices to fully comply with the international standards. In that regard, the Government of Serbia had last week adopted draft laws on the witness protection programme and the law enabling the recognition by domestic courts of evidence and information gathered by international courts. The Government of the Republic of Serbia, all relevant political factors in Serbia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro were aware of the obligation to fully cooperate with the Tribunal. There was also full agreement on the need to purse that cooperation. The Government of Serbia was determined to take fresh steps to achieve concrete results in its cooperation with the Tribunal.
MARTIN NGOGA, Deputy Prosecutor General, Rwanda, said that originally the Office of the Prosecutor had identified more than 300 “big fish” for prosecution. Today, the workload had been reduced to a bare minimum. As a result, such notorious suspects as Mbarushimana Callixte were no longer being targeted for prosecution. In the case of Mr. Callixte, he was now being compensated for lost income from United Nations employment. That was not only a “slap in the face” of the international community, but also a mockery of justice. He urged the Tribunal to reconsider bringing that individual to justice. According to the numbers provided by the Tribunal, by the end of its mandate it would have completed only 25.6 per cent of the number of suspects originally considered “big fish” by the Tribunal.
Even for that number to be tried, he said that the Tribunal would have to ensure that all trial and appeals currently under way were expedited and completed and that it commenced proceedings on all cases not yet started. It also had to be ensured that all indictees still at large were arrested and prosecution of them begun. All States, therefore, must cooperate in all ways with the Tribunal. He was concerned about late or non-payment of assessed contributions, which had resulted in recruitment freezes and consequently had slowed the Tribunal’s work. That slowdown had come at a time when the Tribunal was expected to be working steadily towards implementing its completion strategy. It was imperative that Member States paid their contributions on time and in full, without conditions, if the goals outlined in the completion strategy were to be met.
What was important for Rwanda was not only that the Tribunal meet its expected level of delivery, but that its completion strategy not become an “escape strategy” for suspects not yet brought to justice. The idea of transferring cases, as envisaged in the completion strategy, addressed his concerns. His Government considered such transfer as a key factor in ensuring that all major genocide perpetrators faced justice, even after completion of the Tribunal’s mandate. The Government was ready to receive all cases that were not completed by that time. He, therefore, urged the Tribunal to expedite the process leading to an effective transfer of those cases. He commended the Tribunal’s efforts in tracking fugitives, as well as the offers of support of some Member States. He noted, however, that a significant number of suspects were still at large. He urged the Tribunal to enhance transparency when reporting on that matter and he asked it to lead Rwandans into a discussion of the level of cooperation received from Member States, in order that they might better deal with that challenge.
He also brought to the Council’s attention the plight of many of the survivors of the 1994 genocide, who were living in conditions of enormous hardship. To date, most of them, particularly the orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence, were suffering under abject poverty, HIV, limited access to education and medical care, to mention a few of the difficulties. He urged the international community to recognize the seriousness of the problem and to support the General Assembly resolution being tabled during the present session. The security of witnesses who testified before the Tribunal was another major concern of his Government. At least one prosecution witness was killed recently, and several others were reportedly living under threat. His country was very much committed to cooperating with and supporting the Tribunal. It also recognized the support of the international community given to Rwanda in a bid to uphold justice and to rebuild the country on the basis of unity, the rule of law and reconciliation.
MIRZA KUSLJUGIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that, in the 11 years of its existence, the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had established itself as impartial, professional and competent. Its role had been twofold. Its historical role was to set the record straight and individualize the responsibility for some for the most gruesome crimes against humanity, thus, relieving the participants in the conflict of collective guilt. Its second role had been as a pioneer of international criminal justice, thereby paving the way for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Prevention of impunity, meanwhile, had become a widely accepted international principle, and investigations, processes and verdicts of both the Tribunals had become an important part of international jurisprudence. In practical terms, the results of the Court were “little short of remarkable”: 104 accused war criminals had been brought to justice; 52 of them had received Trial Chamber Judgement; 30 had received their final sentence, and
10 of the convicted had already served their sentences.
He said it was not without regret, therefore, to learn from the President that the international financial assistance was drying up. He reiterated his country’s plea to the main contributors to continue their support to the Tribunal as long as was necessary. Bosnia and Herzegovina especially underlined the Tribunal’s role in the individualization of war crimes as a precondition for sustainable inter-ethnic reconciliation in the country and in the region. Particularly notable were the gestures of the indictees who had not only pleaded guilty, but had also expressed remorse to the victims. Those had been milestones in the reconciliation process. His country was determined to continuously meet its obligations regarding cooperation with the Tribunal. Its record with respect to the arrest and transfer of at-large indictees, requests for documents, access to archives and the ready availability of witnesses had improved in the past year.
It was disappointing to learn, therefore, that the most recent activities of the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and particularly those of the Republika Srpska, had not been recognized or appreciated by the Office of the Prosecutor. Despite evident progress in terms of cooperation with the Tribunal, many of the indicted war criminals had still not been apprehended. That was the major obstacle to inter-ethnic reconciliation. For the country to come to terms with its tragic past and move forward, all indictees, especially the two most notorious, must face justice at The Hague. Clearly, failure to cooperate fully with the Tribunal was now the main obstacle to Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming a stable, peaceful and prosperously European democracy. Criminal files against some 5,908 persons had been submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office for review, but only approximately 100 persons had been brought before the courts. Thus, hundreds, and even thousands, of perpetrators of serious war crimes committed in his country had not even been charged.
Based on its exit strategy, the Tribunal intended to transfer to the domestic courts the dossiers of unfinished investigations and investigative materials, he noted. It would then be up to the domestic judicial and prosecutorial authorities to act on those cases. That would begin next year and would be a serious test of the maturity of the domestic courts. That was also an important step in the building of institutions of justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would contribute significantly towards the creation of a society based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.
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