OFFICIALS OF RWANDA, FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNALS BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL; STRESS IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING FUGITIVES TO JUSTICE, EVEN BEYOND DEADLINE
OFFICIALS OF RWANDA, FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNALS BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL; STRESS IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING FUGITIVES TO JUSTICE, EVEN BEYOND DEADLINE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5594th Meeting (AM)
Officials of Rwanda, former Yugoslavia tribunals brief Security Council;
stress importance of bringing fugitives to justice, even beyond deadline
Just two years away from the deadline set by the Security Council for completion of the trials of those allegedly responsible for war crimes, including genocide, in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the Presidents and lead Prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunals spoke frankly today about the likelihood of meeting that target and of leaving behind a legacy that they had fulfilled the expectations of the victims and the international community.
Briefing the Council for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as was customary every six months since its establishment as an ad hoc tribunal in 1993, its Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, today sought “fresh guidance” from the 15-member body that established it about whether The Hague Tribunal should stay open beyond the scheduled closing of its doors in 2010, until the two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, still at large, were tried.
Bringing those fugitives –- accused of genocide –- to trial was very important for the tens of thousands of victims who had placed their hope in the justice provided by the United Nations, Ms. Del Ponte stressed. They had the right to know whether they could still count on the promises the Security Council made when it created the Tribunal 13 years ago. Many victims had the perception that the United Nations had abandoned the “safe areas” to the troops of Karadzic and Mladic. “Let us not, by our actions, give them further reason to feel that the United Nations -– and the Security Council -– did not do everything in their power to ensure that the most responsible accused are brought to justice,” she urged.
President of the Yugoslav Tribunal, Fausto Pocar, said that the Tribunal’s commendable efforts during the reporting period were evidenced by its ever-diminishing caseload. To date, cases against 100 accused, out of a total of 161 indicted, had been closed. At the current rate of progress, and barring any unforeseen difficulties, all trials of the accused in the Tribunal’s custody were scheduled to be completed no later than 2009. However, with the capture of six fugitives still outstanding, despite repeated calls on Member States to ensure their arrests, completing all trials by 2009 was doubtful. The court’s mandate would not be fully implemented without the trials of the high-level accused.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was registering steady progress, and remained committed to the deadlines set by the Council, its Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, said. The trials of 25 accused persons were in progress, with 22 accused being tried jointly in five multiple-accused cases. Those major cases were expected to conclude at various times during 2007 and 2008. The option of transferring cases to African countries, other than Rwanda, did not seem viable, owing to capacity and resource constraints, or overloaded national judicial systems. Meanwhile, the evasive strategies of the 18 fugitive indictees -– including their constant mobility across a large belt of east, central and southern Africa, refuge in inaccessible areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as changes in identity and State cooperation -- had posed severe challenges to the efforts of the tracking team.
Noting that 18 indictees were still at large, the Rwanda Tribunal’s President, Erik Mose, said the court would not be able to prosecute all the accused by December 2008, should they be found. Some of them should, however, be tried by the Tribunal. It was essential that Member States cooperate in the arrest and transfer of those persons. In June, he had referred specifically to Felicien Kabuga, who was in East Africa. Since then, many efforts had been made to obtain his transfer to Arusha, but without success. In view of the completion strategy, he stressed the importance of arresting and transferring Kabuga to the Tribunal as soon as possible to determine his guilt or innocence.
Serbia’s Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Zoran Loncar, said his Government and all State authorities were demonstrating a clear political determination and investing all necessary efforts to cooperate with the Tribunal to bring it to a successful close. Thanks to the Government’s outstanding efforts, 16 indictees had been transferred to The Hague Tribunal since January 2005, including the highest-ranking military and police officers. All activities regarding its cooperation with the Tribunal had reinforced the Government’s commitment to fully honour its remaining international obligations. In July, it adopted an action plan to put in place a more efficient framework for cooperation with the court, and it was daily undertaking activities to locate and transfer the remaining indictees.
Rwanda’s representative said that the Tribunal’s completion strategy should not be seen as an “exit strategy” on the part of the international community. Appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that all of the accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal’s mandate had expired. Indeed, no opportunity should be given to suspects like Felicien Kabuga and Augustine Ngirabatware to evade justice or continue to enjoy protection from Member States. As part of the completion strategy, court documents should be transferred to Rwanda, so the Government, together with the United Nations and the international community, could establish a genocide prevention and education centre. Such a centre would serve not just as a memorial for the genocide’s over 1 million victims; it would also be a centre of research on the Rwanda genocide and promote justice, reconciliation and human rights.
As the dates given to the Tribunals to complete their work was coming to a close, France’s speaker asked the Council to consider the purpose of those dates -- that the Tribunals should take all measures in their power to complete all trials by the end of 2008, and their work by 2010. When the Council had taken that decision, it had established a goal, but not “cut-off” dates. Some considered that there was a need to close down the Tribunals, whether or not they had judged the main fugitives. That was the hope of those fugitives. Often with that argument came a reference to the high cost of the courts. That was indeed a significant concern, but what would have been the point if the main fugitives escaped international justice? What would be the Tribunal’s legacy and credibility? The mission of the ad hoc tribunals would not be concluded as long as those fugitives were not tried, he said.
Statements in the debate were also made by the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Japan, China, Denmark, Congo, United Kingdom, Argentina, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ghana, Peru, Greece, Qatar (in his national capacity), and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and adjourned at 1:57 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Before the Council was a letter dated 15 November 2006 from the Yugoslav Tribunal’s President to the Council’s President (document S/2006/898), which provides assessments by the Tribunal’s President and Prosecutor. The President notes that there had been significant change and unprecedented challenges in the past six months, while, at the same time, it had been one of the most productive periods in its history. In total, the Trial and Appeals Chamber issued 391 decisions and four judgements. In the calendar year, the Appeals Chamber will be able to bring a total of eight proceedings, both Yugoslav and Rwanda, to a close, marking the most productive year ever for the Appeals Chamber.
He adds that the Tribunal has taken further positive steps in the last six months to increase the efficiency of its trials and appeals. The judges have remained vigilant in looking for ways of improving the practice and procedure of the Tribunal’s trials and have adopted further rule amendments towards this end. Consequently, the Judges’ efforts to speed up proceedings have resulted in an increasingly diminishing number of accused whose cases remain to be completed.
The Tribunal will make every effort within its power to meet the completion strategy target dates, the President states. It will not remain satisfied with the status quo, but will continue to explore new measures to ensure that it retains the international community’s support to fully discharge its mandate. The Tribunal will also continue its efforts towards securing the rule of law in the States of the former Yugoslavia through partnership with local judiciaries, outreach activities and the dissemination of materials in the region. While the International Tribunal will remain steadfast in its efforts to increase the efficiency of its proceedings, its success in meeting the completion strategy hinges on factors beyond its control, including the arrest of the remaining fugitives and in the successful trials of cases transferred to the region.
Due to the Council’s visionary thinking in establishing the Tribunal in 1993, it has now become common practice in regions around the globe to hold individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the President concludes. With the Council’s support, the Tribunal’s experience and jurisprudence in enforcing international criminal justice, while upholding the highest standards of due process, has paved the way for this historic development. There is still much work to be done, including the trials of the six remaining high-level fugitives, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. It would be a “lasting stain” on the Tribunal’s legacy if those accused were to remain untried by the Tribunal.
According to the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, the Office of the Prosecutor is doing the maximum to maintain as much as possible the time frame of the completion strategy. The first deadline of the strategy was met, with all the remaining investigations completed by the end of 2004. The successful implementation of the completion strategy, however, largely depends on the authorities of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They must now take decisive action to bring all six remaining fugitives to The Hague as soon as possible.
It would inconceivable that the Tribunal completes its mandate while Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both accused of genocide, remain at large. The victims and the populations of the former Yugoslavia will never accept that justice was done unless these two most responsible perpetrators were tried. The Council may wish to consider further action to encourage Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to finally fulfil their international obligation under Chapter VII of the Charter.
The Council also had before it a letter dated 30 November 2006 from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to the Council’s President (document S/2006/951), which contains a revised version of the Tribunal’s completion strategy. It notes that judgements have been delivered in the first instance in respect of 31 persons. The number of persons whose trials have either been completed or are in progress is 58. Eleven detainees are awaiting trial. Eighteen indicted persons are still at large. The cases involving the 25 accused whose trials are currently in progress will be completed from 2007 onwards. Trials of the remaining 12 accused will commence as soon as Trial Chamber and courtroom availability permits. On the basis of information presently available, it is estimated that, by the end of 2008, the Tribunal would have completed trials involving 65 to 70 persons.
Judge FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said the report outlined progress made by the Tribunal in achieving the objectives of the completion strategy from June to November 2006 and described remaining steps and ongoing challenges. The Tribunal had emerged in the past six months from a period in which it faced extreme difficulties requiring rapid response and adjustment to change. In spite of that, however, the Tribunal had achieved one of the most, if not the most, productive periods in its history. In July 2006, as a result of significant reorganization of the Tribunal Chambers and efficient pre-trial management, the Tribunal had commenced its remaining two trials of multi-accused six months ahead of schedule. At one point, the Trial Chambers had been able to try an unprecedented number of 25 accused in six trials simultaneously. In the past six months, the Appeals Chamber had brought eight proceedings involving 11 accused to a close, marking the most productive year in the Appeals Chamber’s history. In the first quarter of 2007, the Tribunal would finish trials against four accused and close proceedings against five accused on appeal.
The Tribunal’s commendable efforts during the reporting period were evidenced by its ever-diminishing caseload, he said. To date, cases against 100 accused, out of a total of 161 indicted, had been closed. While proceedings against 61 accused remained to be completed, out of that number, 13 had already been tried and were at the appeals stage, 24 were currently on trial, only 14 were in the pre-trial stage, 4 were pending Rule 11 bis motions for referral and the remaining 6 accused were still at large. At the current rate of the Tribunal’s progress, and barring any unforeseen difficulties, all trials of the accused in the Tribunal’s custody were now scheduled to be completed no later than 2009. The Tribunal expected, furthermore, that all appellate work could be concluded within two years of the end of trials.
He stressed, however, that the Tribunal was not content to rest with those dates. It was constantly looking for new, creative ways to complete trials even earlier than planned, while upholding due process norms. In that regard, he informed the Council that the Tribunal had been able to reorganize the judicial workload and allocate Tribunal resources to exceptionally allow for the commencement of a seventh trial on 10 January 2007 against Dragomir Milosevic. The efforts made to run seven trials simultaneously were direct proof that the Tribunal was working harder than ever to ensure that proceedings against the accused would be completed as soon as possible. Efficient completion of all trials was not only a matter of meeting completion strategy dates, however. It was a matter of respecting fundamental human rights norms.
On the issue of the detention of the accused, he said the working group established for purposes of implementing the recommendations of the Swedish audit of the Detention Unit had completed its report on 4 October 2006. The working group had reiterated the findings of the Swedish authorities that the conditions of the Detention Unit were of the very highest standards and had concluded that the majority of recommendations by the Swedish authorities were both reasonable and feasible. In that respect, he had pushed for a policy of expedited transfer of convicted accused to States where they were to serve their sentence. That was not only a matter of improving conditions with the Detention Unit, but of upholding human rights norms in keeping the convicted separated from the accused while in detention. During the reporting period, four convicted had been transferred to Austria, Italy, and Denmark upon the close of their cases.
Regarding the situation of the accused Vojislav Seselj, he said Mr. Seselj had been refusing to take food and medicine since 11 November 2006 and had refused to be medically assessed by the United Nations Detention Unit doctor since that time. As the Tribunal’s President, he had kept a close watch on the situation and, in light of Mr. Seselj’s refusal to be medically assessed by the Detention Unit’s doctor, he had ordered the transfer of Mr. Seselj to the Dutch penitentiary hospital, where there were better facilities to deal with any medical emergency that might have arisen. During the period in which Mr. Seselj had maintained his refusal, the Tribunal had consulted with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and had organized for three doctors of Serbian, Russian and French nationality selected by Mr. Seselj to visit him in the penitentiary hospital. The Trial Chamber had issued an order suspending proceedings in his case and had also ordered the Dutch authorities to take all necessary action in accordance with internationally recognized standards to preserve his life.
He was pleased to note, he said, that on 8 December, Mr. Seselj had ceased his refusal to take food or medicine and, following his recovery in a Dutch hospital facility, had been returned to the Detention Unit. Mr. Seselj’s decision to resume taking food and medicine had been linked to decisions issued by the Registry and the Appeals Chamber, which had addressed some of his demands. During Mr. Seselj’s refusal, the Tribunal had had all procedural guarantees at its disposal for appropriately handling the situation. While the situation had posed a difficult challenge to the Tribunal, it had been successfully resolved without sacrificing the integrity of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure or Evidence.
Providing an overview of the achievements of the Trial and Appeals Chambers to date, he noted that, in the past six months, the three Trial Chambers had continued to hear six trials simultaneously and had managed 17 cases in the pre-trial stage. Alongside that unparalleled caseload, the Trial Chambers had been actively involved in preparing new cases for trial. During the reporting period, the Trial Chambers had issued 192 written and 29 oral pre-trial decisions. The Appeals Chamber also continued to function at full capacity, issuing 170 written decisions, three referral decisions, 131 pre-appeal decisions, one contempt decision and 12 review, reconsideration or other decisions.
Turning to the implementation of the completion strategy, he noted that the Tribunal had taken further steps in the last six moths to increase the efficiency of its trials and appeals. It had fully embraced the changes advocated by the working groups on speeding up appeals and the working group on speeding up trials. The pre-trial judges continued to take an increasingly proactive role in the preparation of cases for trial and in ensuring that cases were ready upon the vacancy of courtrooms. Judges had also remained vigilant in looking for new ways of improving the practice and procedure of the Tribunal’s trials, such as by adopting further Rule amendments. The Judges had taken action to expedite trial proceedings by placing limits upon the parties’ cases. Trial Chambers had also made efforts to build consensus with the prosecution by finding other ways to focus its cases, as well as those of the defence.
In addition to concrete measures by Judges, the efficient completion of trials and appeals at the Tribunal had been possible in large part because of the dedicated work of its highly competent and qualified staff. The realization of the Tribunal’s completion strategy depended largely upon the Tribunal improving its procedures until its closing by drawing upon its past experiences. That was only possible if the Tribunal was able to retain its staff. In order to retain its best staff, accelerated promotions had been implemented. The Tribunal had also placed before the General Assembly a proposal for securing a retention bonus for its longest-serving staff.
The Tribunal increasingly relied on ad litem Judges for realizing completion strategy objectives and for the efficient conduct of its trials during the reporting period, he said. Those judges had been an extremely valuable resource for the Tribunal. The Tribunal had also continued its work in referring cases involving intermediate and lower ranking accused to national courts in the former Yugoslavia, which was vital both with respect to meeting the completion strategy and for the Tribunal’s legacy. It was critical to the success of the completion strategy and to upholding the rights of victims, as well as those of the accused, that all referred cases were conducted in full compliance with the highest standards of due process. The Tribunal was acutely aware of the need to further the rule of law in the former Yugoslavia by providing continued and sustained support to local judiciaries and prosecutors in the region.
Continuing, he urged the Council to protect the Tribunal’s achievements so far and to take the necessary steps to fully entrench the rule of law by providing sustained support to the local judiciaries and detention facilities. It was those courts that continued the historic work of the Tribunal in trying perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide long after the Tribunal had completed its mission. Furthermore, it was crucial for reasons of stability and reconciliation in the region that the national trials upheld the highest standards of due process, so that justice was done and seen to be done by the victims and the international community as a whole.
The Tribunal’s success in the efficient completion of its proceedings had always hinged significantly upon State cooperation and non-interference in cases once they had commenced, he said. During the reporting period, the Russian Federation authorities had assured the transfer of Zelenovic to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who then transferred him to the Tribunal in June. Apart from that single transfer, however, States had failed to arrest and transfer the Tribunals’ remaining six high-level fugitives. The Tribunal was deeply troubled by the failure to apprehend those accused, especially Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. He urged all States to take immediate, concrete measures to actively seek their whereabouts. The Tribunal’s judges remained adamant that the Tribunal must not close its doors without their arrest and trial. To do otherwise would meant that the International Tribunal would not have fully discharged its mandate and the Tribunal’s message and legacy that the international community would not tolerate impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law would be dangerously undermined.
Providing an updated prognosis for the completion strategy, he confirmed that trials would run into 2009. As it was anticipated that all trials currently pending would likely be subject to appeal, the Tribunal would probably have 15 appeals following the conclusion of those trials, which were expected to be disposed of within two years of the end of trials. There remained, however, a number of key factors that would influence whether the conclusion of trials and appeals within that time frame remained feasible. The primary factor remained the success of the multi-accused trials. While judges did all within their power to ensure the expeditious conduct of the proceedings while respecting due process norms, factors outside of their control, including illness of the accused or counsel and the lack of cooperation by the parties, might negatively impact upon the speed at which the cases proceeded. In addition, the successful completion of trials depended in no small part upon the retention of highly qualified staff up to the Tribunal’s very closing. Completion strategy dates might be threatened if referrals of cases of lower and intermediate accused to the region must be revoked and sent back to the Tribunal, due to a failure by local courts to uphold fair trial principles.
Regarding the critical issue of the six outstanding fugitives, he noted that for a decade, the Tribunal had repeatedly called on Member State to ensure the arrest of those fugitives without result. The continued failure to ensure their arrest now rendered the 2009 date for the completion of all trials doubtful. The Tribunal’s mandate could not be regarded as fully implemented without the trials of the high-level accused.
Concluding, he said the Tribunal remained entirely committed to meeting the completion strategy objectives, while upholding the highest standards of due process and continued to forge full-speed ahead with its mandate as part of the furtherance of peace and security in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal was constantly refining its practices and adopting the necessary mechanisms to improve the efficiency of its proceedings and uphold the rights of the accused to be tried without undue delay. It was also exploring new measures to reach those goals and to retain the international community’s support until its mandate was fully completed. The Tribunal was also turning its attention to the future, actively working to secure the rule of law in the States of the former Yugoslavia.
Calling upon the Council to maintain its support for the Tribunal in the final years of its mandate, he said much work remained to be done. “Together, we must see the historic work of the Tribunal through the cause of international justice, the continued fight against impunity and the promotion of international peace and security,” he said.
ERIK MOSE, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, noted that, when he had appeared before the Council in June, 55 persons had had their cases completed or ongoing. That number had now increased to 59. Three further judgements had been rendered in September 2006. Since the November report, another judgement had been rendered. Thirty-two had now received judgements. Regarding the four Trial Chamber judgements, he noted that Jean Mpambara had been acquitted of all charges against him on 12 September 2006. On the same day, Tharcisse Muvunyi had been convicted of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. Andre Rwamakuba had been acquitted of all charges against him, while Athanase Seromba had been convicted for aiding and abetting genocide.
Turning to the nine trials that were now in progress, involving 25 accused, he said the five multi-accused trials continued to represent the main challenge, because of their volume, complexity and the time needed to complete them. Regarding single-accused cases, he said closing arguments had been heard in the Karera trial in November. Judgement was expected in 2007. During the Council’s June meeting, he had mentioned that three new trials were expected to commence in the second half of 2006. The Tribunal had met that target. On the situation of the remaining 11 detainees who were awaiting trial, he said the first of those cases, Renzaho, was scheduled to commence on 8 January 2007, bringing the Tribunal to 10 remaining cases.
The Tribunal was, he said, on schedule to complete cases involving between 65 and 70 accused by the end of 2008, as envisaged in its completion strategy. To achieve that aim, continuity was of the essence. On 13 June 2006, the Council had adopted resolution 1684 (2006), which had extended the term of office of all Tribunal permanent judges until 31 December 2008. On 13 October, resolution 1717 (2006) had extended the terms of office of all ad litem judges until the same date. That provided the Tribunal with the continuity, stability and certainty needed for the effective planning of trials.
Noting that 18 indictees were at large, he said the ICTR would not be able to prosecute all the accused by December 2008, should they be found. Some of them should, however, be tried by the ICTR. It was essential that Member States cooperate in the arrest and transfer of those persons. In June, he had referred specifically to Felicien Kabuga, who was in East Africa. Since then, many efforts had been made to obtain his transfer to Arusha, but without success. In view of the completion strategy, he stressed the importance of arresting and transferring Kabuga to the Tribunal as soon as possible to determine his guilt or innocence.
Regarding the issue of State cooperation, he said he had to return to the situation of acquitted persons. As of today, one of the five persons acquitted by the Tribunal had found a country of residence. The other four were under the Tribunal’s protection in Arusha. Appealing to Member States to receive acquitted persons in their territories, he said there was a need to find a solution to the problem. Rwanda had continued to cooperate with the Tribunal by facilitating the flow of witnesses from Kigali and by providing documents to the prosecution and the defence.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said it was essential to seek fresh guidance on fundamental issues of the completion strategy, stressing that a strong message was needed from the Council in relation to the fugitives, especially Karadzic and Mladic. That message should be that their trial could begin in The Hague at any time until 2010, and a mechanism would be established for them to be tried in The Hague after that day.
Since her last assessment in June, she said her Office had been working productively with the Chambers to speed up trials, while trying to maintain the highest standards of fair trial and due process. The transfer of cases to the domestic jurisdiction had also continued to progress well. In accordance with Security Council resolution 1503 (2003), her Office had proposed to the Chambers the referral of all cases involving mid- and lower-level accused. In one case, Dragomir Milosevic, the referral bench had denied the prosecution’s motion on the ground that the accused was too senior to fit in that category. The limits had been reached in that matter and, unless the Council modified the security conditions under which an accused could be transferred to local courts, there was no legal possibility to transfer more cases. The remaining cases all involved the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes.
Following her initiative to join cases involving similar crimes, two further multiple-accused cases had opened in The Hague, in July, she said. One case concerned the Srebrenica genocide, with seven accused, all former senior aides to Ratko Mladic. It was very unfortunate that Mladic himself could not be tried with his close associates. The other case involved six top political and military leaders from Serbia for their role in the crimes committed in Kosovo. A seventh accused, Vlastimir Djordjevic, should also be present at that trial. His last known whereabouts were in the Russian Federation. In total, there were 24 individuals on trial at present, the largest number of accused on trial at any one time in the Tribunal’s history.
She said that more written evidence had been admitted in trials. As a consequence, it had been possible to limit the time allocated to the examination-in-chief of prosecution witnesses to a minimum. In a large-scale trial of six accused, for instance, the prosecution had used an average of roughly two court hours per witness, but less than half an hour for crime-base witnesses, which was extremely efficient by any standard. In several trials, the Chambers had also accepted via judicial notice a higher number of facts established in previous trials. Those facts, therefore, did not need to be proven again.
When directed by the Trial Chambers, she said she had acted in a cooperative spirit to select the counts on which to proceed, for instance, in the Perisic and Dragomir Milosevic cases. Her Office had also reacted in a helpful way to the directions on time limits set for the presentation of the prosecution case. As long as the measures taken to increase the efficiency of trials did not undermine the prosecution case or the rights of the victims, she was willing to go along with them.
She said she wished, nevertheless, to draw the Council’s attention to some negative reactions from victims’ groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She had forwarded to the Council presidency a letter from the association “Women-Victims of War” from Sarajevo. She had received more such letters, in the meantime. On 30 November, she had met victims’ groups in Sarajevo. Many of them were bitter about the completion strategy because they believed all high-level cases, including, of course, those of Karadzic and Mladic, must be tried in The Hague. Furthermore, they did not understand why some crimes should be removed from indictments. They saw the Tribunal as a promise of justice and as a concrete sign that the international community cared about their suffering. They found it “profoundly unjust” to envisage closing the Tribunal before it had successfully completed its task. Of course, Karadzic and Mladic were on their minds as the two individuals most responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There was no other place than The Hague to try them.
While the judicial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia had stepped up their efforts to try war crimes, the political bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia had not shown the political will necessary to arrest the remaining fugitives, she said, recalling that she had previously explained to the Council the reasons why, in her assessment, six accused were still at large. She would come back to that issue more extensively in the course of her next assessment, which would also be her last one.
Over the past six months, she said that Serbia had been busy working out a so-called action plan to capture the remaining fugitives. That initiative had thus far proven to be “just another smokescreen”. Since she took office in 1999, she had been confronted with the same reality: none of the successive Serbian Governments had been truly willing to arrest Mr. Mladic or Mr. Karadzic. She had passed detailed information to the highest Serbian officials back in 2001 and 2002 and those officials, some of whom still held key positions today, simply pretended that her information was wrong. However, history now showed that her information had, indeed, been correct. In 2002, the then President, himself, had signed the decision on the retirement of General Mladic. Despite his denials at the time, therefore, he had known perfectly well that the army was sheltering Mladic. She believed today that the Serbian Government could easily arrest Ratko Mladic should it want to do so. It was simply a question of political will.
She said there were many reasons why democratically elected leaders, pretending to show the utmost respect for the rule of law, had been protecting for so long persons indicted for genocide. She would not elaborate on that further at present, but the wilful failure of Serbia to cooperate with her Office, and in particular, to arrest and transfer Mladic and Karadzic, had been a demonstration of “utmost disrespect towards thousands and thousands of mainly Muslim, but also Croat and other non-Serb victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. That would likely impact on relations between the various communities within the region “for decades”. The only way to remove “that stain” would be for Serbia to arrest and transfer Karadzic and Mladic immediately.
The situation was not much more favourable in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she continued. There, the central institutions were not working efficiently, and the authorities of the Serb entity, despite some recent improvements, had so far not shown a robust willingness to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Stojan Zupljanin. They were the fugitives who were the most likely to be in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both at the central, and at the entity, level, key institutions remained crammed with individuals who used to be, and maybe still were, closely connected to Karadzic and his network. As long as Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not cooperate fully with her Office, and with each other, the two most important indictees would continue to escape justice, thus affecting the completion strategy.
She said that, within the limits set by the interests of justice, her Office was doing its utmost to meet the objectives of the completion strategy. However, unless the Council allowed the transfer of more accused, it would not be able to achieve the target date of 2008. Furthermore, the opportunity had already been missed to try Karadzic and Mladic with other accused. Strong incentives must remain in place for Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to full cooperation with her Office. The European Union had been a key partner over the past 10 years. Nineteen of the 24 accused currently on trial had been transferred to The Hague as a direct result of the European Union’s policy of conditionality. She trusted that the Union would remain a reliable supporter of the Tribunal. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), over the years, had provided useful political support. Its recent decision to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia into the Partnership for Peace, however, was a powerful signal that the international support for the Tribunal was decreasing.
She, therefore, requested that the Security Council say whether, as some permanent members had said in the past, it considered that the Tribunal should stay open until Karadzic and Mladic were tried in The Hague. That was very important for the tens of thousands of victims who had placed their hope in the justice provided by the United Nations. They had the right to know whether they could still count on the promises the Security Council made when it created the Tribunal 13 years ago. As everyone was aware, many victims had the perception that the United Nations had abandoned the so-called safe areas to the troops of Karadzic and Mladic. “Let us not, by our actions, give them further reason to feel that the United Nations -– and the Security Council -– did not do everything in their power to ensure that the most responsible accused are brought to justice,” she urged.
Those were not easy words, and there were not easy times ahead, she said. But, there were steps that could be taken. First, the Council must consider changing the conditions under which an accused could be transferred, so that, if necessary, the Tribunal could meet its objectives in time. Second, the political will to arrest the remaining fugitives must be strengthened. Third, the Council must confirm that there remained the possibility for the Tribunal to continue its mandate until such time as fugitives such as Karadzic and Mladic were brought to trial.
She said that the forceful support of the Council for the Tribunal needed to be expressed now. Strong messages must be passed to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, so that they finally deliver the fugitives from justice, especially Karadzic and Mladic. Clear guidance must be provided to the court, so that it could complete its mandate in a dignified and successful manner.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that the Tribunal continued to register steady progress towards the completion of its mandate, and remained committed to the deadlines set by the Council. Since its last report, judgements had been delivered in five cases. Of those, three accused had been convicted, with one pleading guilty and two having been acquitted. As had been planned, the Prosecution had been able in the past six months to begin the trial of three cases, that of Bikindi, Rukundo and Nchamihigo, and those were proceeding steadily and satisfactorily. The trials of 25 accused persons were in progress before the trial chambers, with 22 accused being tried jointly in five multiple-accused cases. Those big cases presented a major challenge, and were expected to conclude at various times during 2007 and 2008. None of them was projected to go beyond the end of 2008. The conclusion of any of those multi-accused cases would provide an opportunity to enhance the Tribunal’s capacity to proceed with the trial of additional single-accused cases.
He said that the commencement of the Rule 11 bis on transfer of indictees to national jurisdictions for trial had received a temporary setback when both the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber rejected the Prosecutor’s request for the transfer of Michel Bagaragaza to Norway for trial. The decision had been based on the Chamber’s view that Norway lacked jurisdiction to prosecute Bagaragaza for the offences with which he had been indicted. He had now filed a second request for the transfer of his case to another European country, which had agreed to take the case; a decision was pending on the application. Another European country had agreed to take on cases on transfer. Accordingly, he proposed early next year to request the transfer of three other indictees to that country.
The option of transferring cases to African countries, other than Rwanda, was not likely to be viable. All the African countries that he had approached in that respect had pleaded capacity and resource constraints, as well as overloaded national judicial systems as obstacles to their participation. Rwanda, thus, remained the only African country willing, although not yet ready -– in the sense of fulfilling the conditions for transfer -– to receive the cases of indictees from the Tribunal for trial. Unfortunately, it had not been possible in the past six months to apprehend and transfer to the Tribunal any of the 18 fugitive indictees. The evasive strategies of the fugitives -– including their constant mobility across a large belt of east, central and southern Africa, refuge in inaccessible areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as changes in identity -- had posed severe challenges to the efforts of the tracking team, as had the matter of State cooperation.
He said that, in the past six months, he had continued consultations with officials of the Kenyan Government regarding the case of Felicien Kabuga, who remained at the tope of the list of fugitives. He was encouraged by Kenya’s pledge to intensify its collaboration with the court, and for other Governments’ active support of his discussions with the Kenyan Government. Looking ahead to next year, the focus would remain on the timely and efficient conclusion of the cases of the 25 accused currently on trial, the preparation and commencement of new trials, the intensification of the tracking programme for the arrest and transfer of the fugitives for trial and the referral of cases of indictees to national jurisdictions for trial. Of the 11 indictees in detention awaiting trial, five had been earmarked for transfer.
Twelve fugitives had been earmarked for transfer to Rwanda, together with five of the detainees in custody, he said. The indications were that the death penalty, a major obstacle to the transfer of any case to Rwanda, would be abolished, not just in relation to the Tribunal’s cases, but also across the board. As soon as that was accomplished, he would be requesting the transfer of those 17 indictees (12 at large and 5 in custody) to Rwanda for trial. Hopefully, that could be done in the first half of 2007. The number of cases for referral to Rwanda might rise to include any of the six top-level fugitives currently earmarked for trial in Arusha, if they were not arrested by June 2007.
If, for any reason, the referral of cases to Rwanda became impossible, then the cases so earmarked would fall back within the Tribunal’s workload, either to be prosecuted in Arusha or transferred to another jurisdiction, he said. Hopefully, the former situation would not arise and referral to another jurisdiction in that event would still be feasible. Capacity-building was crucial to a successful strategy of partnership with national jurisdictions. Indeed, the Council had in its resolutions and statements called for capacity-building assistance to those countries willing to share the burden of the struggle against impunity. The Tribunal, in its own limited way, had been assisting Rwanda in that respect through its outreach programme. He also commended the efforts of the Governments of the United States and the European Union member States to improve Rwanda’s legal system.
He said that, as the court neared the end of its mandate, it would also pay particular attention to legacy issues, staff retention and residual matters, which would remain after closure. The Council would receive proposals in due course on some of those matters, but staff retention was a matter of immediate concern, and it was urgent that a system of incentives be put in place to enable the Tribunal to retain the staff it required from 2007 to completion.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) welcomed the fact that both Tribunals were increasing the speed of their work by devising various mechanisms, which had proven to be of immense help. He noted, however, that the two Tribunals were also gravely concerned by the lack of progress in the arrest of the remaining few fugitives that were important to the completion of the Tribunals’ mandates. Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal and the number of judgements delivered, he commended progress in the trials before the Tribunal. He noted that the completion strategy still remained 2008. However, deviation in the strategy was now based on specific and updated assessments of the scope and nature of each case, while previously it had been based on statistical average in light of general experience from completed trials. He viewed that shift as being prompted by the difficulty of relying on estimation. It was a right response to real demands.
He said it was obvious that the transfer to national jurisdiction was a very important factor for both Tribunals in completing their completion strategies. For the Rwanda Tribunal, the Prosecutor had already transferred 30 case files to Rwanda and was considering the transfer of 11 other cases to other national jurisdictions. While he supported that strategy, national jurisdictions needed assistance in improving their national capacities to prosecute cases transferred to them. Regarding the Yugoslav Tribunal, he said measures adopted earlier to implement the completion strategy seemed to be on course. He commended the Prosecutor’s insistence on observing principles of international fair trials and the highest standards of due process in those referrals.
He said he was concerned that Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic continued to remain outlaws, he said. They and the other six fugitives had remained beyond the reach of the law for far too long. The Yugoslav Tribunal would not have fully discharged its mandate without the arrest and trial of those indictees. His delegation was sympathetic to the view that the Council might wish to reconsider its position on the completion strategy for the two Tribunals. The arrest and trials of high-ranking fugitives like Mladic, Karadzic and Kabuga needed to be factored into the completion strategies. The fugitives endured in the hope of outliving the Tribunals. The Council should make it clear that the Tribunals would maintain their jurisdiction with respect to the fugitive’s accountability. He appealed to all Member States to accept relocation of acquitted persons and accept those convicted for enforcement of sentences in their respective countries.
JACKIE SANDERS ( United States) expressed her country’s strong commitment to the Yugoslav Tribunal and satisfaction at the increased pace of trials in recent months. The Tribunal was now conducting seven trials simultaneously, and had taken other steps that had demonstrated its dedication to efficiency. Everyone must continue to work together to ensure the success of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, as previously endorsed by the Council, which sought to conclude trials by 2008 and all work by 2010.
At the same time, however, she said she could not accept the possibility that the outstanding fugitives, notably, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, could escape justice by outlasting the Tribunal’s existence. It was imperative, therefore, to begin discussions now on how best to guarantee that they faced justice, “no matter when they are apprehended”. As her delegation had previously stated, the Tribunal’s doors would always remain open for Mladic and Karadzic. The Council and interested States must begin to seriously address that and other legacy issues, such as planning for continued witness protection and proper maintenance of archives. She called on all States to cooperate fully with the Tribunal, and on the Serb authorities to fulfil their obligations without delay.
Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, she said that the success of the completion strategy did not depend solely on the Tribunal, but required the continued assistance and cooperation of Member States. The completion strategy would involve the transfer of cases from the Tribunal to domestic jurisdictions. The international community could assist that endeavour by supporting the court’s efforts to create the capacity for domestic trials. Building that judicial capacity was particularly important in Rwanda, where the Rwandans had urged the Tribunal to transfer outstanding cases to their jurisdiction. The transfer of those cases required Rwanda to have an adequate judicial system to meet international fair trial standards. The 1994 genocide had seriously devastated Rwanda’s judicial capacity, and rebuilding that was an arduous process. Rwanda had made remarkable progress, but critical steps remained.
She urged the country to act swiftly and collectively to fulfil those steps and work closely with the Tribunal in negotiating those Rule 11 transfers. She also encouraged international donors to continue their current support, and on all States, particularly Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to fulfil their international obligations to apprehend and transfer to the Tribunal all persons indicted for war crimes within their territories. Those fugitives continued to foment conflict in the Great Lakes region and must be actively pursued and apprehended, consistent with the relevant Security Council texts.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) noted the measures taken by the administration of the Tribunals to expedite the processes in an effort to meet their respective completion strategies and encouraged both Tribunals to meet their completion strategies by exploring all necessary measures. The arrest and transfer of key remaining fugitives, especially Karadzic and Mladic to the Yugoslav Tribunal and Kabuga to the Rwanda Tribunal, was urgent. He reiterated Japan’s strong call on all the concerned States, including Serbia, to take all measures to that end. The international community was strongly committed to bringing about justice and ending impunity in both cases. That commitment must be matched by the cooperation on the part of the States involved.
If the Tribunals choose to await the transfer of the remaining fugitives endlessly, it would be very difficult to justify and sustain support to them through the regular budget, he said. Possible funding beyond the deadline set by the completion strategies should be met through voluntary contributions. Regarding the transfer of mid- and low-level accused to domestic courts, he took positive note of the efforts made to expedite such transfers, despite certain legal and technical constraints in national judicial systems. The closer involvement of local authorities and people in the communities was vital for real justice and confidence-building in the reconciliation process. He said he strongly hoped that the international community’s efforts, supported by the Council, over 10 years to end impunity would not only constitute a valuable legacy, but would also be fully integrated into community, national and regional capacities.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said he was satisfied with the progress made so far by the Tribunals, which had done much to expedite the pace of their proceedings. That had given him confidence in their ability to meet the completion strategies on time, although it depended on the courts continuing to arrange their trial proceedings with high efficiency and the countries in the region cooperating to the greatest degree possible. Based on the reports presented today, he believed that much potential existed for utilizing the capabilities of the countries in the region, particularly as concerned the trial proceedings.
He, thus, urged the two Tribunals to fully consider referrals involving intermediate and lower-level accused to countries in the region for trial. He called on countries with the capabilities to provide further support to strengthen their judicial capacity-building for that purpose. The Tribunals played a positive role in promoting peace and stability in the region, as had been widely recognized internationally. China had paid great attention to the current implementation phase of the completion strategies and was ready to join other Member States in considering, as early as possible, related follow-up options.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ ( Denmark) said she firmly rejected all attempts at outlasting the Tribunals and called on all States harbouring indictees to cooperate fully with the Tribunals in that crucial matter. Stressing the need for both Tribunals to finish their work on time, she welcomed the additional steps taken and the results achieved by both Tribunals. It was imperative that that work be done in strict accordance with international standards. The international community had a large part to play in enabling the Tribunals to finish their work on time. While it was a matter of tracking down, apprehending and transferring indictees at large, it was also a matter of agreeing to witness protection, sentencing agreements and paying assessed contributions on time.
She added that a number of judicial and administrative functions would not automatically terminate with the conclusion of the last appeal against a judgement, including witness protection, enforcement of sentences and maintenance of archives. The impact of the Tribunals reached far beyond the specific cases under their jurisdiction and far beyond the specific countries concerned. Their legacy deserved to be protected. She encouraged, therefore, the Tribunals and the Office of Legal Affairs to intensify their work on that important matter and to engage in early discussion with the Security Council and other interested parties. The Tribunals continued to contribute significantly to the fight against impunity.
LAZARE MAKAYAT-SAFOUESSE ( Congo) stressed the vital importance of bringing the perpetrators of the grave crimes committed on the two territories to justice in an effort to rebuild peace and re-establish the rule of law. The evaluations presented today had showed an accelerated pace of work. Several cases had been dealt with, both at the trial and appeal levels, thanks to the arduous effort made to reduce the backlogs. The cooperation of other courts had also made it possible to reduce the number of cases, which had resulted from internal reforms, the effort of the working groups and modifications to procedural rules. A particularly noteworthy advance had been the information programme used by the Rwanda Tribunal. Above and beyond its informative nature, that programme had enabled countries to join in the fight against impunity. It educated students, promoted inter-ethnic cooperation and might in future help to avert the kinds of disasters that had befallen Rwanda.
At the same time, he said, some negative aspects still needed to be addressed. For example, States should fulfil their international obligations, both to arrest fugitives and other persons suspected of grave crimes. Those responsible for genocide in the former Yugoslavia were still at large. If they were not brought to justice, the international community would be denying the victims the chance to be heard. The two Tribunals must be assisted in completing their mandates, and then it must be ensured that they had viable resource levels, both human and financial, to enable them to carry their work to completion. He wished to know, given the incalculable factors noted by the President of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and the problem in searching for the fugitives, whether it was possible to extend the judges’ terms in the future, while still completing on time the mandates given the courts.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) congratulated the Rwanda Tribunal for progress in completing its considerable caseload. At the same time, she remained concerned that 18 indictees were at large, including Mr. Kabuga. They must not be allowed to evade justice and she called on all States to cooperate in that regard. She had been interested to hear if the international community could take particular steps to assist the Rwanda Tribunal in its work. She encouraged the Tribunal and the Rwanda Government to work closely to overcome all outstanding obstacles for the possible transfer of cases to the Rwandan system.
On the Yugoslav Tribunal, she welcomed the news that Seselj had called off the hunger strike. She had every confidence in the Tribunal’s ability to handle the issue and in its desire to discharge its mandate by the Council. She hoped that no one in the region would be tempted to exploit the incident for its own gain. The capture and transfer of six remaining indictees was essential and should be considered a priority. She understood from the Prosecutor that Mr. Djordjevic was in the Russian Federation and was confident that the Russian authorities would investigate that claim. She was disappointed by the lack of progress on Serbia this year. Full cooperation remained central to the reconciliation needed for stability in the Balkans. She called on the Belgrade authorities to increase their cooperation, including the arrest and transfer of Mladic and Karadzic to The Hague.
She also called on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska to fulfil their obligations to cooperate. There was much more that the authorities of Republika Srpska could do to ensure cooperation with the Tribunal. She welcomed the comments on cooperation from Croatia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The question of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s invitation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia into the Partnership for Peace should not be construed as a weakening of support for the Tribunal. Further European Union and NATO integration would depend on the extent of progress.
On the completion strategy, the message of the President and the Prosecutor today was clear, she said. All fugitive indictees must be brought before the Tribunal. Karadzic and Mladic should not be under any illusion that they could wait out justice. While she commended the significant efforts to increase efficiency, she said she remained concerned about the slippage in the completion timetable to 2009. On the transfer of cases from the Yugoslav Tribunal to national jurisdiction, nine individuals had been transferred to the jurisdiction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United Kingdom remained supportive of the special war crimes chamber and strongly supported the call for other donors to make similar commitments. The transfer to national jurisdiction, however, was not to be applied in the cases of Mladic and Karadzic
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN ( Argentina) noted the steps taken by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to speed up the trials. However, it was regrettable and unacceptable that six fugitives were still at large, particularly those who were accused of genocide –- Karadzic and Mladic. Ms. Del Ponte had pinpointed the lack of political engagement, the absence of trust and cooperation between the institutions involved in the finding of fugitives, and the failure to design an efficient and focused strategy. He called on the Governments of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Tribunal. The completion strategy would not be whole unless those accused parties were brought to court. Without them, the essential conditions to consolidate the peace process and reconciliation and development in the region would be absent.
He also highlighted the Rwanda Tribunal’s progress in the completion strategy, but expressed concern that the transfer of cases to national courts could affect the efficiency of trials. Doubts about the national capacity of the legal systems to continue the processes effectively to their conclusion were valid, not only for the legal systems of African countries, but might also apply to transfer to developed countries -- as had been the case of Norway. He could conclude from today’s report that it was of extreme urgency to provide resources and capacity to the Rwandan Government so that it might successfully address the legal challenges of judging the persons responsible for genocide, both in cases of transfer and in cases of local indictment. He called on that Government to effectively abolish the death penalty and make the greatest possible effort to arrest and transfer to the Tribunal the 18 fugitives at large.
The two Tribunals were an essential step by the Council to eradicate impunity and affirm the rule of law in the regions concerned, he said. The problems that the courts faced showed that the fragmentation and proliferation of special tribunals was “not the right way” to address cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It was necessary, therefore, for States and civil society to proffer the political engagement, support and necessary resources to strengthen the International Criminal Court so that, in the future, only one international tribunal, with solid human and material resources, as well as universal authority and legitimacy, would be the judicial arm of the international community in judging crimes against humanity and rooting out impunity.
DENIS Y. PALETSKIY (Russian Federation) commended the work of the Rwanda Tribunal and welcomed the initiative of Rwanda’s Government to abolish the death penalty, which gave greater importance to the Tribunal’s work in capacity-building with the judicial system in that country. The transfer of cases to national jurisdiction was the main component in the timely completion of the completion strategy.
Regarding the Yugoslav Tribunal, he expressed great concern about the case of Mr. Seselj. He was thankful to the Tribunal President for submitting to the Council information on measures taken to de-dramatize the situation. The responsibility for the current situation and for his state of health lay with the Tribunal. The Court’s President had said that the Tribunal was trying to limit the period of the pre-trial detention. Seselj had been in prison since the beginning of 2003. Such a drawn-out trial was further proof of the unwieldy work of the Tribunal. Given the harm to his health, the affair could not be considered closed. The recurrence of situations would discredit the Court, which had already been hurt by the death this year of two, including Mr. Milosevic.
He said another issue was the open criticism on the amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence for the Tribunal. They were in line with the implementation of the completion strategy as set out by the Council. The statement on the alleged presence of Mr. Djordjevic on the territory of the Russian Federation was inappropriate. The information provided by the Tribunal on his whereabouts had not been confirmed. The Russian authorities were making every effort to find him. There could be no question of extending the jurisdiction of Serbian authorities to the Russian Federation. It would be useful to obtain comparative lists of the number of those convicted by nationality and the duration of their sentences for similar crimes in terms of type and gravity. The Tribunal must carry out its completion strategy according to the Council’s timetable. The fact that Mladic and others had not been brought to the Tribunal could not justify the indefinite duration of its work.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE ( France) said that both tribunals had achieved remarkable progress towards completing the strategies set out by the Council, and he commended the combined efforts of judges and prosecutors. Greater efficiency in the conduct of trials would favour respect for the completion strategies, which must ensure that, after so many years, justice was rendered to the victims, so that the societies concerned could move on. The objective of efficiency and acceleration should serve the purpose of justice. The two ad hoc tribunals were pioneers and their legacy must in no way be the subject of controversy. One way to avoid that was to transfer low-ranking accused to domestic courts. He welcomed the satisfactory completion one month ago of a first such trial in Sarajevo.
While welcoming the initiatives of the two tribunals, he noted that the presidents and prosecutors had pointed to a number of difficulties that could increase as their work drew to a close, including the loss of quality staff. That should be examined, as that could slow the pace of work. The main challenge for the Tribunals and the Council, however, was that some of the perpetrators were still at large. Their number had been decreasing, but persons responsible for ethnic cleansing were still at large 10 years after the genocide; their arrest and transfer and trial was an international commitment for the countries and regions concerned. Cooperation with the Yugoslav Tribunal was a commitment to the Balkan States, and his country considered that that was a prerequisite for integration into the European family. Thus, he was disappointed at the action plan established by Belgrade because it had not yet produced the desired result.
He said that, while the dates given to the tribunals to complete their work was coming to a close, the Council should consider the purpose of those dates -- that the tribunals should take all measures in their power to complete all trials by the end of 2008, and their work by 2010. When the Council had taken that decision, it had established a goal, but not “cut-off” dates. Some seemed to think that there was a need to close down the Tribunals, whether or not they had judged the main fugitives. That was the hope of those fugitives. Often, with that argument came a reference to the high cost of the courts. That was indeed a significant concern, but what would have been the point if the main fugitives escaped international justice? What would be the tribunal’s legacy and credibility? Would they have completed the mission they were mandated to complete? What effect would their efforts have had on counteracting impunity? He asserted that the mission of the ad hoc tribunals would not be concluded as long as those fugitives were not tried.
DUŠAN MATULAY ( Slovakia ) welcomed the progress and expressed support for the Tribunals’ work under their mandates. The completion strategies were crucial documents streamlining the final phase of the functioning of both Tribunals. He welcomed measures to meet the completion strategies, as determined in Security Council resolutions. He highly appreciated the number of referrals by the former Yugoslavia Tribunal of cases involving accused to national courts and the intention of the Rwanda Tribunal prosecutors to request the transfer of cases to competent national jurisdictions. In that connection, he stressed the need for strict compliance of national trials with international standards and called on States to cooperate with the Tribunals, in particular regarding the transfer for remaining fugitives. The conclusion of the respective legal instruments for that purpose was essential for full implementation of the completion strategies.
Noting the obstacles facing the Tribunals, he welcomed the commitment of the Tribunals to make every effort to address those challenges, including exploring new measures to fully discharge their mandates and reach the target dates. The Council should maintain its strong support for the implementation of the completion strategies and should be ready to take appropriate measures for the successful completion of both Tribunals’ work.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) expressed his appreciation for the role being played by the Rwanda Tribunal in the country’s reconciliation and reconstruction process. He was also impressed with the progress being made with regard to investigations and trials of the accused, confident that that put the court on course to meeting its completion strategy in 2008. Towards that goal, the Tribunal must receive the necessary resources. In that connection, he welcomed the referral of less serious cases to national jurisdictions, not only to ease the Tribunal’s workload, but also to help build the capacity of the domestic judicial system, while infusing a sense of ownership of the judicial proceedings among the local communities. If the psychological wounds of the genocide were to heal, the participation of the local communities in the judicial process could act as a catalyst. On the issue of genocide, the Tribunal’s efforts should be commended.
He said he had been pleased to note the steady progress being made by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He reiterated that unreasonably lengthy trials, bogged down by delays and complicated rules of procedure, did not project the necessary image of transparency and efficiency. The Tribunal’s outreach programme, which had brought insight about the court to the population of the affected areas, would undoubtedly play an important role in the healing and reconciliation process. Failure to secure the arrest and trial of six high-level fugitives within the target date of the completion strategy could undermine the Tribunal’s legacy. The fact that some high-level fugitives were still at large was a matter of great concern to his delegation. Certainly, they could not be hiding without some sort of assistance or tacit support from certain quarters. He called on the relevant States to exercise the necessary political will and do whatever was in their power to bring those fugitives to justice. There could be no closure to the traumatic period in which those culprits played an ignoble role if they were not brought to justice.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) welcomed efforts of both Tribunals to fulfil the deadlines set for the completion strategy. He also recognized, however, the difficulties they faced, especially the lack of cooperation with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal. He urged the Tribunals to fulfil their deadlines, observing the strict norms of international due process. Justice should not just be impartial, but as speedy as possible. To do that, the full cooperation of States was fundamental.
While more than 10 years had passed since the establishment of the two Tribunals, important indictees were still at large, he continued. States must do their utmost to ensure that fugitives were arrested. Other areas of cooperation, such as access to witnesses, were essential. States also needed to open their territories to those acquitted. He recognized that efforts were being made regarding the transfer of cases for low- or mid-ranking indictees to competent national jurisdictions. The Council, at the request of the Tribunals, had taken a number of measures to strengthen their work. He was prepared to continue to consider those requests and to offer both Tribunals the support they needed, so as to end impunity for the appalling crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
MARIA TELALIAN ( Greece) said that, despite the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s recent positive developments, the court could not effectively discharge its mandate unless all indictees who remained at large were arrested and transferred to The Hague. At the present critical stage, the cooperation of the States of the region, particularly Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially the Republika Srpska with the Tribunal was crucial to securing that result. She, therefore, strongly urged all Member States to cooperate closely with the Tribunal and to live up to their international obligations to not let war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide go unpunished.
She also strongly supported the Rwandan Tribunal’s ongoing work and its efforts to bring to justice those persons most responsible for the genocide in Rwanda. The court had made good progress and taken many measures to ensure the timely implementation of the completion strategy. In that respect, she had been pleased by the decision of the Council and General Assembly to extend the terms of the permanent judges. She also supported the extension of the terms of all 18 ad litem judges until the end of 2008. She remained gravely concerned, however, by the fact that 18 indicted persons still remained at large, including Felicien Kabuga. She noted the Prosecutor’s decision to request the transfer of 12 of those persons to national jurisdictions for trial.
Both Tribunals had built up an important international jurisprudence, which considerably strengthened the principles of international criminal justice and the rule of law and could have a deterrent effect on the commission of grave crimes in the future, she said. The international community should cooperate closely with the two courts to support their important task in expeditiously completing the trials. Member States should provide the necessary resources and political support. “We should not send the wrong signal that the international community is unwilling to bear the costs necessary to pursue justice,” she warned.
Council President, NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking in his national capacity, said that, while a number of steps had been taken to implement the completion strategies, it was necessary to examine factors that would affect the strategies and review them in a timely manner. In that context, he stressed the importance of the recommendations by the working group on speeding up trials. All such procedures, however, should not prejudice the right of individuals to a fair trial, or the achievement of criminal justice. It was also imperative to ascertain the ability of national courts to conduct such trials in accordance with established legal controls and criteria.
The United Nations had demonstrated its commitment to the administration of justice through the establishment of the tribunals, he said. Justice could not be achieved, however, as long as a number of the major perpetrators remained at large. Emphasizing the need for cooperation, he said failure to surrender those accused of committing the most hideous crimes against humanity would undermine the work of the tribunals and be a stigma on their heritage. He appealed, therefore, to Governments to fulfil their obligations, particularly with respect to the capture of Mladic and Karadzic. The 18 fugitive indictees from the Rwanda Tribunal must also be surrendered in order to uphold international justice.
The international community’s political will should be translated through the establishment of effective mechanisms for that purpose, he said. Indeed, apprehending those accused must be a high priority for the international community, as well as continuing cooperation in providing access to records and witnesses. The two courts must continue their efforts no matter what the circumstances and improve their management and competence, as the victims of those horrible crimes attached great hopes to the two courts in the achievement of justice and peace.
ZORAN LONCAR, Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of Serbia, said his Government and all State authorities were demonstrating a clear political determination and investing all necessary efforts to cooperate with the Tribunal to bring it to a successful close. Thanks to his Government’s outstanding efforts, since January 2005, 16 indictees had been transferred to The Hague Tribunal including the highest-ranking military and police officers. All activities regarding its cooperation with the Tribunal had reinforced the Government’s commitment to fully honour its remaining international obligations.
He said that the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, followed by a bloody civil war, had been the reason for the establishment of the special court for the prosecution and punishment of the gravest war crimes and violations of humanitarian law. It was in the Government’s interest that the crimes committed in that war were not forgotten and that their instigators and perpetrators were brought to justice. As such, his country invested its utmost efforts to contribute to the implementation of the goals that had guided the Council at the time it established the Tribunal in 1993. Those goals had not only included punishment of those responsible for serious violations of humanitarian law, but also the creation of conditions for reconciliation among the peoples living in the territories of the former Yugoslavia.
The Serbian Government had repeatedly and clearly stated its primary interest in completing its cooperation with the Tribunal, as soon as possible, he reiterated. At its session on 20 July, the Government adopted an action plan for cooperation with the court, and a team for the plan’s implementation was also set up. In addition, the State authorities were fully engaged in the plan’s implementation. Moreover, activities were undertaken daily to locate and transfer the remaining indictees. The team for implementation of the action plan had prepared concrete proposals and relevant procedures to amend current regulations, in order to put in place a more efficient normative framework for implementing the plan. By adopting the programme, the Government was undertaking very intensive and comprehensive activities, as a way of giving a clear indication of the strong political will at the highest State level to locate any and all of The Hague Tribunal indictees, if they were hiding in Serbia’s territory and to have them transferred to the custody of the Tribunal, in accordance with Serbian laws.
JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said his country wished to renew its commitment to cooperate with the International Tribunal and to ensure that the completion strategy was implemented according to the specified timeline. However, building the country’s capacity required much work to be done, and Rwanda was grateful for the support shown by the international community towards that end. Indeed, it was time for the country to assume full responsibility for and national ownership of the trials.
He said, by 2008, 14 years would have elapsed since the genocide, requiring that efforts be stepped up in the next two years on several urgent areas. First, the trials should be transferred to Rwanda, so that the Rwandese could be “first-hand witnesses to justice being done”. In that regard, the Government of Rwanda had been working with the Tribunal, particularly the prosecution, to address legal and procedural issues in advance of the transfers. Meanwhile, Parliament was seeking to repeal the death penalty from the country’s statutes. It was important that all Tribunal convicts serve their sentences in Rwanda, where the crimes had been committed and in line with provisions of that body’s statute. Concerns over the standards of Rwanda’s detention facilities should be laid to rest, since Tribunal officials who had inspected the facilities had signed a memorandum of understanding certifying that it had met international standards. Furthermore, an agreement for the “service of sentences”, prepared jointly by the Tribunal and the Rwanda Government, had been signed in November 2004, and sent to the United Nations for endorsement.
Regarding fugitives still at large, he said appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that all of the accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal’s mandate had expired. As such, the Tribunal’s completion strategy should not be seen as an “exit strategy” on the part of the international community. Indeed, no opportunity should be given to suspects like Felicien Kabuga and Augustine Ngirabatware to evade justice or continue to enjoy protection from Member States.
He said that, as part of the completion strategy, court documents and materials should be transferred to Rwanda, and the Government would welcome working with the United Nations and the international community to establish a genocide prevention and education centre. Such a centre would serve not just as a memorial for the genocide’s over 1 million victims; it would also be a centre of research on the Rwanda genocide and promote justice, reconciliation and human rights. The Government was open to discussion with other Member States on how best to take that proposal forward, while being aware that speed was of the essence.
He ended by thanking the Security Council and the wider international community for their continued support to the Tribunal, both politically and through voluntary financial contributions. Hopefully, the successful and timely completion of the Tribunal’s work would positively impact justice, the rule of law and reconciliation in Rwanda.
MILOS M. PRICA ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) assured the Council that his country’s authorities remained committed to continued full cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and, at the State and entity level, had undertaken every possible effort to locate and arrest those indicted war criminals still at large. Unfortunately, that goal had not yet been fulfilled. The country’s intelligence agencies had undertaken many activities to identify and track the networks that harboured war criminals on its territory, and they were ready to redouble efforts in the coming period to achieve more concrete results. Nevertheless, the most wanted indictees had been arrested outside the territory of his country. To date, neither international nor domestic intelligence had provided any traces within his country’s borders that could lead to the whereabouts of those eluding arrest.
He stressed, however, that his Government would continue to undertake all possible measures to ensure that all perpetrators of war crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, if located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were brought before the Tribunal or its national courts with the Tribunal’s consent. That was the only way for the cause of justice to be served. The presidency reinforced that view on 13 December when it concluded that it fully supported the Tribunal’s work and that all persons accused of war crimes must be brought to justice. It wanted that position to be brought to the Security Council’s attention. Bosnia and Herzegovina had completed its judicial framework regarding the war crimes, in order to process intermediate and lower-ranking indictees. The War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had been processing the significant number of cases referred to it by the Tribunal, as well as those initiated by the Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the project to extend the recently formed detention unit of the War Crimes Chamber was also under way.
Judge POCAR, President of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, expressed thanks to the members for their support to the work of the Tribunal and their appreciation for measures taken to comply with the requirements of the completion strategy. He took note of the Council’s concern regarding the deadlines for the completion strategy. Indeed, the dates of the completion strategy were constantly before the Tribunal. The Tribunal would do whatever it could to conclude its work within the deadlines, bearing in mind the caseload. So far, the Trial Chambers had concluded trials of 66 accused, which was a huge number. Planning provided for a situation where trials would have to run into 2009. That did not mean, however, that 2009 would be fully devoted to trials. The Tribunal was not content to rest with the dates and was constantly looking for new ways to speed up its work.
On the question of Mr. Seselj, he said he wished to assure the Council that all measures would be taken to speed up that trial, which had been delayed because of the hunger strike of the accused. The trial would resume once his health condition permitted.
Judge MOSE, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, said that the Council’s uniform attitude concerning the need to capture all indictees would no doubt send a strong signal into the right circles. Capacity-building was a prioritized area for the court, and he would certainly accelerate work in that area. He looked forward to the fact that the information centre in Kigali would soon widen, in the sense that there might soon be similar centres throughout Rwanda. In terms of legacy, there was a need for further reflection, not only between the Tribunals, but between them and Member States as to how to carry those issues further. On the basis of documents circulated, discussions should go into greater depth on the matter, in order to make further progress. In short, he would take with him the kind remarks by Council members, and those would serve as an inspiration in his work in the months to come.
* *** *