INDICTED FUGITIVES MUST FACE PROSECUTION, OFFICIALS OF YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA TRIBUNALS STRESS IN JOINT BRIEFINGS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
INDICTED FUGITIVES MUST FACE PROSECUTION, OFFICIALS OF YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA TRIBUNALS STRESS IN JOINT BRIEFINGS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5697th Meeting (AM)
INDICTED FUGITIVES MUST FACE PROSECUTION, OFFICIALS OF YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA
TRIBUNALS STRESS IN JOINT BRIEFINGS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
Impunity Would Undermine Credibility, Justice,
Prosecutors Say as they Report Steady Progress towards Completion
The international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were proceeding in a timely manner towards completion, but justice would remain incomplete if indicted fugitives who remained at large were allowed to evade prosecution, officials of both tribunals told the Security Council this morning.
In her last report to the Council before stepping down in September, Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, while having gone a long way towards completing the prosecution of the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes committed on the former Yugoslav territory after 1991, the continuing impunity enjoyed by Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić gravely undermined all efforts to bring justice to the victims and to maintain the Tribunal’s credibility. Now more than ever, international assistance was needed to provide “strong incentives” for the States of the former Yugoslavia to finally cooperate fully. Recent arrests and new commitments by Serbia gave hope in that regard.
Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, also underscored the importance of apprehending indicted fugitives while addressing the key issue of transferring cases before the court to national jurisdictions. He said failure to arrest and transfer at-large fugitives in time for the completion of their trials by the end of 2008 -– the target completion date for the Tribunal’s work -- would necessitate discussion of a solution that would allow either the Tribunal or another mechanism to proceed beyond the completion date.
Highlighting specific steps developed towards completion, he said they included the Prosecutor’s recent request that the cases of three fugitives be referred to domestic courts in Rwanda and France. Still, it was clear that, in view of the Tribunal’s mandate, some of the remaining fugitives should be considered as candidates for trial at the Tribunal itself. However, such steps would only be successful if Member States provided support to the Tribunal in that regard. State cooperation, one of the cornerstones of the Tribunal’s success, was critical to the arrest and transfer of indictees. Assistance was also crucial in connection with the situation of acquitted persons, the relocation of convicted persons who had served their sentences and the sentences of convicted persons.
Fausto Pocar, President of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, described the improved measures that court was taking to complete all the trials on its docket by the end of 2009. Critical to those efforts and an important part of the Tribunal’s legacy were the referral of cases to national jurisdictions and the accompanying strengthening of the rule of law locally.
Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, said his Office had handed over 30 files to Rwandan and other jurisdictions for further investigation and possible prosecution by the national authorities of the States concerned. In the event that fugitives earmarked for trial over their leadership roles in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide were arrested too late for their trials to conclude by the end of 2008, or if they remained at large by that date, the Council’s guidance would be needed regarding how to deal with their cases.
Taking the floor after the briefings, Serbia’s representative said his country had firmly resolved to make a clear-cut break with the legacy of the Milošević regime. The Government had recently arrested former general Zdravko Tolimir, an indicted fugitive, in a joint security operation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, Vlastimir Djordjević, a former high police official, had been arrested in a joint operation by Montenegro and Serbia. The Serbian Government had also released more than 5,000 military, police and Government officials from having to keep State and military secrets.
He said the Serbian Government had formed the National ICTY Cooperation Council in June and given its members authority with respect to the processing of requests from the Yugoslavia Tribunal. Serbia’s cooperation with neighbouring countries was also important and included meetings involving the prosecutors of Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina within the framework of the “Palic Process”. The Prosecutors of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and a similar signing was expected with the Prosecutor of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Martin Ngoga, Prosecutor-General of Rwanda, appealed to the Council to ensure greater transparency on the part of the Rwanda Tribunal regarding fugitives who remained at large and in naming States that were not sufficiently cooperative in preventing their efforts to evade justice. Regarding the referral of cases to national jurisdictions, Rwanda had enacted legislation abolishing the death penalty and was engaged in building the capacity of its criminal justice system.
Calling for the transfer of all pending cases to Rwanda for reasons of justice, efficiency, reconciliation and sovereignty, he expressed surprise that the transfer of some cases to France had been under consideration. Regarding the need for measures to remedy problems affecting the transfer of convicts to serve their sentences in Rwanda, the Tribunal’s completion strategy should incorporate the transfer of all court documents and materials to Rwandan custody, given their critical importance for reconciliation.
Also speaking this morning were representatives of Congo, Panama, United States, France, Ghana, Italy, Russian Federation, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Peru, Indonesia, Qatar, China, South Africa, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 1:50 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings by the top officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said it had not only maintained its previously reported high level of efficiency, but had in fact increased the output of its Chambers in the past six months, hearing seven cases simultaneously for the first time in its history. A total of eight trials had been held, three of them multiple cases involving 19 accused. Judgement had been rendered in the Milan Martić case on 12 June and would be issued in Mile Mrkšić et al. in the coming weeks. In addition, trial judges had managed 12 cases in the pretrial stage, leading to the issuance of 146 written and 12 oral decisions, due to efficient use of courtrooms and other new rules of procedures implemented in the past two reporting periods.
As a result of the more efficient rules, the Appeals Chamber had made great strides in productivity, issuing seven judgments in the past six months, he said. It had also rendered one contempt judgment, three decisions on review or reconsideration and more than 100 other written decisions on interlocutory appeals and pre-appeal decisions. At present, the Appeals Chamber had 10 pending appeals before it, 4 of which were scheduled for completion in the reporting period. However, its workload was growing, and ways must be found to increase the number of permanent appellate judges, possibly by using trials judges from both the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, when they were no longer engaged in trial work. The overall results now being reported would not have been possible without the dedication of the 11 ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Another key element of the completion strategy was the referral of cases involving intermediate and lower-ranking accused to competent national jurisdictions, as authorized by the Security Council, he said. Ten accused had been transferred for trial to the Special War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina, two others to the domestic courts of Croatia and one to Serbia. Only two transfers remained to be finalized. Unfortunately, Radovan Stanković, convicted and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, had escaped, and it was to be hoped that all States would do everything in their power to return him to custody.
Highlighting measures taken to ensure that international norms of due process were consistently observed in cases referred back to the former Yugoslavia, he said much work had been done to disseminate the results of the Tribunal’s work in the region. Regarding cooperation by regional States, Zdravko Tolimir, a top aide to Ratko Mladić had been apprehended by Bosnian authorities, and Vlastimir Djordjević had been arrested in Montenegro. However, the international community must not rest until all remaining high-level fugitives were brought to justice.
In conclusion, he said the Tribunal was doing everything within its power to implement its completion strategy and it was anticipated that most trials would be completed by 2008, four additional trials by mid-2009 and the final two currently on the docket by the end of 2009. Should any of the four remaining fugitives be arrested now, some of them would be tried before the end of 2009, as well.
DENNIS BYRON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, providing an overview of its work since December 2006, highlighted the 27 cases completed, involving 33 accused, noting that, since his last report to the Council, one final judgement on a guilty plea had been issued in the case of Joseph Nzabirinda. In addition, one case had been transferred to the Netherlands and two others were at the “judgement-writing phase”. Ongoing trials involving 22 accused in nine different cases were at very advanced stages, as the Tribunal continued to operate at maximum capacity. Four multi-accused cases involving 17 accused remained the major challenge in terms of ongoing trials. In the Appeals Chamber, two judgements had recently been delivered in the cases of Emmanuel Ndindabahizi and Mika Muhimana. Four cases concerning six individuals were also pending appeal.
He said the very high level of productivity in the Tribunal’s four courtrooms over the past six months had resulted in an ever diminishing case load, and indications suggested that the next six months would be even more productive. The completion of five single-accused cases this year would allow the Tribunal to commence the trial phase for the remaining six accused in the second half of 2007 and early 2008, as soon as Trial Chamber and courtroom capacity permitted. One of those cases, that of Hormisdas Nsengimana, was scheduled to commence at the end of the week.
Turning to the Tribunal’s other main challenges -- the apprehension of the 18 accused persons still at large and the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions -– he said the Tribunal had developed specific steps on the path to completion. Last week, the Prosecutor had requested that the cases of three fugitives be referred to Rwanda and France, but it was clear that, in view of the Tribunal’s mandate, some of the remaining fugitives should be considered as candidates for trial at the Tribunal itself. The Prosecutor’s Office also intended to request that a maximum of three of the eight accused currently detained in Arusha be transferred to national jurisdictions for trial. However, those steps would only be successful if Member States provided support to the Tribunal in that regard, a crucial component of the Tribunal’s completion strategy. With respect to apprehending fugitives, if they were not arrested and transferred in time for the completion of their trials by the end of 2008, a solution must be discussed that would allow the Tribunal or another mechanism to proceed beyond that date.
He went on to emphasize that State cooperation was one of the cornerstones of the Tribunal’s success, reiterating that the assistance of States was critical to the arrest and transfer of indictees. Assistance was also crucial in connection with the situation of acquitted persons, the relocation of convicted persons who had served their sentences and the sentences of convicted persons. At present, only two of the five acquitted persons had been accepted by a Member State –- France -– while the other three were under the Tribunal’s protection in Arusha, two since February 2004 and one since last September. “On behalf of the Tribunal, I must reiterate the appeal for the assistance of Member States in that regard, as well,” he added.
The situation of released persons who had completed their sentences was another issue that must be urgently addressed as the Tribunal moved forward, he said. As for the convicted persons, six of them were currently incarcerated in Mali, while the others remained in Arusha. In addition, the Tribunal had concluded enforcement of sentence agreements with Benin, Swaziland, France, Italy and Sweden, and was grateful for the support of those countries.
The significant results of the past six months were indisputably due to an improvement in the working methods of the Tribunal’s three branches, he said, adding that the recent success was a result of the Council’s assistance, including its extension of terms of office for all permanent and ad litem judges through 31 December 2008. The dedication and professionalism of the staff had also been part of the Tribunal’s success, even in the face of the lack of resources in key departments and the continued departure of key staff. That situation was aggravated by foreseeable difficulties in recruiting staff as the completion date approached. The Tribunal would only be able to achieve its goal if it had the necessary resources, including development of its ability to retain experienced staff.
He went on to reiterate the importance of strengthening Rwanda’s judicial system and to highlight the Tribunal’s outreach work. Projections suggested that judgements in the cases of 65 to 70 persons would be rendered by the end of 2008. Remaining challenges due to factors outside the Tribunal’s control could be remedied with the support and assistance of Member States. Those projections would also depend on sufficient resources being made available by Member States throughout the completion of the Tribunals’ work.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said she was making her last presentation to the Security Council. In the past eight years, the Tribunal had gone a long way towards completing the prosecution of the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia after 1991. “Who would have believed in this period that we would see the arrest of an ex-Head of State?” she asked.
She recalled that she had investigated crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which had resulted in the transfer of 91 accused to The Hague and 59 convictions in the first instance. Because of the completion strategy, lower-level cases had been referred to national courts, and although there had been progress in domestic prosecutions, the international community must remain vigilant as the temptation of the respective Governments to interfere in those processes was still very present. In that light, the monitoring of all domestic war crimes proceedings was imperative, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had proven itself best suited to carry out that task.
There had been general progress in Serbia’s cooperation with the Tribunal, she said, emphasizing, however, that the continuing impunity enjoyed by Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić gravely undermined all efforts to bring justice to the victims and to maintain the Tribunal’s credibility. The clock was ticking and international assistance was needed more than ever to provide strong incentives for the States of the former Yugoslavia to finally cooperate fully in that regard. As for the other States in the region, the cooperation of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro had generally been satisfactory. To build upon what had been achieved thus far, there must be continuity in the Office of the Prosecutor, which must further foster the efficiency of trial work and continue to track the remaining fugitives. Hopefully, given recent arrests and Serbia’s commitment, they would be brought to justice soon.
HASSAN BUBACAR JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said the case of Prosecutor v. Bagosora and 3 others (Military I) had concluded and was awaiting judgement. The number of accused persons standing trial had been reduced to 22, with all but 5 having been charged in multi-accused trials. All those cases were anticipated to conclude between 2007 and 2008, and it was possible that a case or two might extend into early 2009. Since the Prosecutor’s last report to the Council, the number of detainees awaiting trial had been reduced from 11 to 8.
He said the negotiation and conclusion of guilty pleas was an important element of the prosecution strategy. After making allowance for guilty pleas and possible referrals of some cases to national jurisdictions, what remained of that category of cases could be disposed of by the end of 2008. The Office of the Prosecutor was actively ensuring the trial-readiness of such cases so they could proceed as soon as possible. As previously reported to the Council, the Office of the Prosecutor had handed over 30 files to Rwanda and other jurisdictions for further investigation and possible prosecution by the national authorities of the States concerned. Regarding cases referred to national jurisdictions for trial, the Tribunal’s judges had finally acceded to the Prosecutor’s request for the referral of Michel Bagaragaza’s case to the Netherlands after a request to transfer the case to Norway had met with a setback.
Rwanda remained the main possible destination for the referral of cases under “R11bis” prosecution, comprising the three detainees mentioned earlier, and 12 out of 18 fugitives, he said. Six of the 18 fugitives -- Félicien Kabuga, businessman and supporter of the MRND party; Protais Mpiranya, former Commander of the Presidential Guard; Augustin Bizimana, former Minister of Defence; Callixte Nsabinimana, former Minister of Youth; Augustin Ngirabatware, former Minister of Planning; and Idelphonse Nizeyimana, former military official -- had been earmarked for trial for their leadership roles in the 1994 genocide. In the event that they were arrested too late for their trials to conclude by the end of 2008, or if they remained at large by that date, the Tribunal would need the Council’s guidance as to how their cases should be dealt with. The solutions might include authority for the Tribunal to proceed beyond the end of 2008 or their referral to a national jurisdiction for trial. In order to conclude those trials, the fugitives must be arrested and placed in the Tribunal’s custody by the end of 2007.
He said he had spoken to officials and ministers of the Kenyan Government, who had assured him of their full cooperation with regard to the arrest and transfer of Mr. Kabuga. A joint effort had been under way between Tribunal officials and Kenyan police, whose efforts had disclosed that Mr. Kabuga had been in that country until October or November 2006, and had several business interests there. An independent source had then confirmed that Mr. Kabuga had been in Nairobi in April 2007. However, current joint efforts between the Tribunal and Kenya had not led to his arrest and transfer to the Tribunal, and the Council must bring its influence to bear on the Government of Kenya. The remaining fugitives were reported to be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their arrest, particularly those earmarked for trial in Arusha, was a priority. A broader view of the mandate for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) would facilitate its collaboration with the Congolese Government and the Tribunal.
Turning to the 1994 genocide, he said Rwanda had recently enacted legislation providing for the trial of cases referred from the Tribunal and States for offences related to that genocide. The law excluded the application of the death penalty from such cases and provided extensive guarantees for fair trial similar to the provisions of the Tribunal’s statute. The Office of the Prosecutor had secured agreement from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to monitor the trial of any case referred to Rwanda. Donor assistance from the European Union, Canada, the United States and the Tribunal’s own technical assistance went towards building the capacity of Rwanda’s legal system and towards increasing the country’s eligibility for the referral of cases.
In the event that the referrals were not approved, the Prosecutor would revert to the Council, he said, noting that requests had been made a week ago for the referral of the cases of two indictees residing in France for trial in that country. France had agreed to receive those cases and the Prosecutor’s Office was awaiting the decision of the Trial Chamber in that regard. In the meantime, investigations of allegations against members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front must be made to continue.
PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo), stressing the importance of providing full support to the Tribunals so they could conclude their work by 2008, said cooperation with States and regions was critical, as was building local court capacity. Deploring the lack of cooperation by some, Congo called on all States to abide by their legal obligations under international law to arrest fugitives and hand them over.
Hailing the valuable legacy of the Tribunals, particularly their contributions to international justice and legal work, he called on the Council to preserve those gains, both in terms of technical capacity and human expertise, and sought further clarifications from the President of the Rwanda Tribunal about finding countries to take in acquitted persons. What could the Council do to help the Tribunal boost regional cooperation with the institution? As for the Yugoslavia Tribunal, what cooperation could intergovernmental organizations provide to help it reach its completion goals in good time?
RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) said the Tribunals were working harder than ever, but their legacies would only be cemented if they completed their work on time. The Council must now begin to examine closely all aspects of their work, particularly their financing, staffing and cooperation with local jurisdictions.
He said that, while transferring some aspects of the Tribunals’ work to the International Criminal Court might prove difficult, the Council should, nonetheless, consider that proposal. The Council had recently created a special tribunal for Lebanon with the help of senior Lebanese officials. The Council should draw on that recent experience to examine seriously and creatively ways in which the Tribunals’ work could be continued, including, if need be, at the International Criminal Court.
JACKIE SANDERS (United States) said her country encouraged continued dialogue for the completion of the Rwanda Tribunal’s work and fully supported the transfer of cases to domestic jurisdictions, as along as international norms were assured. It was important to strengthen Rwanda’s criminal justice system for that purpose, and the United States called for robust efforts to bring all remaining fugitives to justice. They would not escape justice by outwaiting the Tribunal.
With respect to the Yugoslavia Tribunal, she said her country welcomed measures to increase efficiency and encouraged international cooperation towards the completion of its remaining work. The United States called on all States, particularly Serbia, to fulfil their legal obligations by arresting and transferring the remaining indictees. It called also on the international community to assist States in transferring cases to domestic jurisdictions.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) welcomed recent arrests in the former Yugoslav territory and expressed the hope that the remaining four fugitives would soon be brought to justice. France also welcomed recent signs of cooperation from Belgrade in that regard, as the full cooperation of Serbia and the Republika Srpska remained a sin qua non condition for integration into the European family.
The fact that fugitives remained at large was also a major obstacle for the Rwanda Tribunal, he said, stressing that France would not accept either Tribunal’s closing its doors before all major suspects had been brought to justice. Residual efforts by both Tribunals should focus on leaving a strong legacy of international justice in both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
ROBERT TACHIE-MENSON ( Ghana) noted that, six months after the last report, the Yugoslavia Tribunal had been making steady progress towards completing its work in line with its Council-mandated 2008 completion strategy. Sticking to that strategy was crucial to its mission to end impunity for the most serious crimes and, for that reason, Ghana viewed with great interest the procedural reforms and administrative arrangements instituted to reduce the length of trials. Those changes had led to the expeditious disposal of cases, with the Appeals Chamber handing down a record 114 decisions. Referring cases to domestic jurisdictions was an effective tool in executing the completion strategy and in building the capacities of domestic jurisdictions. On the question of cooperation, he expressed concern that four high-level fugitives remained at large in the former Yugoslavia, and called on all Member States to ensure they were apprehended and brought to trial.
Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, he said it had again made impressive gains and an invaluable contribution to the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the region by bringing the perpetrators of heinous crimes to justice. The international community had an obligation to support the Tribunal’s programmes if those gains were to be sustained. At the same time, there was a need to focus on the best means to strengthen its Appeals Chamber, which also serviced the Yugoslavia Tribunal in view of its increased workload.
Finally, he stressed the need for flexibility when considering the completion strategies. It should be possible, after the completion strategy cut-off date, to have a residual mechanism that would handle the cases of fugitives still at large, hear outstanding appeals and handle administrative and archival matters. The Council should consider all options on how best to approach those legal issues.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) commended the tangible progress made in pursuing the completion strategy through modifications of the rules of procedure and evidence, and the strong commitment of judges, prosecutors and staff of both Tribunals. Italy was also pleased that human rights was at the core of both Tribunals’ concerns, given that respect for human rights and the rule of law was crucial to the work of international tribunals. The valuable contribution of both to the codification of international humanitarian law had been confirmed by the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Furthermore, the case law of both Tribunals was among the bases in the elaboration of key provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
He noted that the recent apprehension of Zdravko Tolimir, one of the most prominent fugitives, and yesterday’s arrest of Vlastimir Djordjević reflected the international community’s commitment to the capture of those allegedly responsible for international crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Italy hoped that similar actions would lead to the apprehension of other major fugitives. Regarding future endeavours, crucial issues should include finalizing the numerous cases with which the Tribunals were dealing; continuing the referral of intermediate and lower-ranking cases to competent national jurisdictions; facilitating the reshaping of the judicial activities on appeals and the possible revision of judgements; and possibly increasing the Tribunals’ outreach and capacity-building activities.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his delegation looked positively on the Rwanda Tribunal’s work and applauded the Government of Rwanda on its recent legislative actions -- including its abolition of the death penalty -- that would make it easer to transfer cases to its national jurisdictions. Regarding the Yugoslavia Tribunal, while its work was progressing, the Russian Federation was concerned about forecasts projecting that its activities might stretch into 2009.
While stressing that the Council must look seriously at the question of fugitives still at large, he also noted that one of them had been in Montenegro and not in Russia. In that regard, the “usually eloquent” Prosecutor could not find the words to speak about the fallibility of judges. The Yugoslavia Tribunal must comply strictly with its completion strategy, adding that he did not accept attempts to reinterpret that Council-mandated plan. The Russian Federation stressed also that the absence of some accused or unfinished administrative work could not serve as a reason for the Tribunal’s existence beyond 2008.
MICHAL MLYNÁR ( Slovakia) reiterated his country’s full support for the Tribunals, noting that their completion strategies were crucial to streamlining the final phase of their operations. Slovakia greatly appreciated the amendments to the rules of procedure and the organizational adjustments made to meet deadlines for the completion of the Tribunals’ work. Slovakia was closely following current cases and acknowledged both Tribunals’ emphasis on protecting the rights of the accused while working to expedite proceedings.
He commended the Tribunals’ increased cooperation with the domestic courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Rwanda, and expressed appreciation for the growing number of referrals involving intermediate and lower-ranking accused to national jurisdictions. Slovakia especially welcomed the Rwanda Tribunal’s decision to transfer the case of Michel Bagaragaza to the Netherlands, as such measures should facilitate the prosecution of the most senior suspects.
Pointing out that three of the most important indictees remained at large, he reiterated his country’s strong appeal for full cooperation with the Tribunals in tracking, arresting and transferring the remaining fugitives. In that context, Slovakia supported efforts by States to assist in protecting victims and enforcing sentences, and the Tribunals’ commitment to discharge their mandates fully. The Security Council should maintain its strong support for implementation of their completion strategies.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom), while urging the Yugoslavia Tribunal to keep as close as possible to the target date, stressed that completion should not be done at the express of justice. All States should cooperate in efforts to arrest high-level fugitives who must be tried by the Tribunal. The United Kingdom welcomed recent arrests and stressed that cooperation with the Tribunal was essential for association with the European Community. The Rwanda Tribunal was also to be commended for keeping to the completion schedule and, in its case as well, fugitives must understand clearly that they could not outwait the Tribunal.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHAVEZ ( Peru) welcomed the serious efforts by both Tribunals to keep to a timely completion schedule as a matter of urgency. Peru called on all States to cooperate in securing the arrests of all outstanding fugitives. In the case of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) should step up its witness-protection efforts. In addition, the referral of cases to domestic jurisdictions would have multiple benefits and international assistance to national courts was needed for that purpose. Decisions on residual matters concerning both Tribunals should be made before the completion of their work.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said impunity could not be tolerated and justice must prevail. The two Tribunals could contribute to national reconciliation in the countries concerned and in their struggles to come to terms with the past as they moved to embrace the future. Indonesia was encouraged that the Tribunals were working steadily towards their completion strategies, which were instrumental in streamlining the final phase of their work.
One important step in that regard was the transfer of cases to national courts, which would reduce the Tribunals’ backlog and allow them to complete their mandates on time, he said. Indonesia attached particular significance to programmes to build the capacity of national courts. Justice could not be completely served as long as perpetrators remained at large, and the system must be able to bring them to justice, no matter when and where they were apprehended. Indonesia, therefore, stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation among States in the service of justice.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER ( Qatar) commended the Tribunals for their important work in contributing to peace, security and permanent national reconciliation. Qatar also commended their awareness programmes and activities in the areas of advocacy and capacity-building. While recognizing the necessity of completing the Tribunals’ work within the specified timeframes and as soon as possible, there was also a need for balance between compliance with the timeframes and the full, effective and satisfactory implementation of their respective mandates, taking into account the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
The establishment of the Tribunals was an example of the international community’s resolve and the commitment of the United Nations to the administration of justice, he said. That resolve and commitment, however, must be matched by the commitment of States to work for the arrest of key indictees, as justice could not be completely served as long as major perpetrators remained at large. Qatar called on the Governments of the concerned States to meet their responsibilities and obligations towards the international community in accordance with resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004), specifically to arrest and surrender the wanted indictees, particularly Félicien Kabuga, Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić. They should also provide full cooperation regarding access to records and witnesses.
It was now necessary to focus on the legacy the Tribunals would leave, as that legacy of international jurisprudence could guide future courts and deter the commission of grave crimes in the future, he continued. The Tribunals should continue their efforts until their work was completed, as the victims pinned great hopes on them for justice and peace. The Tribunals’ work was a contribution to the achievement of security, stability and national reconciliation in the concerned regions.
LI JUNHUA ( China) said his delegation had taken note of the continued progress of the Tribunals and stressed the need for both to improve their efficiency in trial proceedings. Countries in the two regions must cooperate with the Tribunals in that effort. Those countries also needed more support to enable them gradually to take over the work of the Tribunals as soon as possible, and States that were in a position to do so should support those efforts.
He urged the Council to consider follow-up measures as the Tribunals wrapped up their work, while keeping in mind that any such actions must be in line with the principles set out in the agreed 2008 completion strategy. China understood that difficulties and complications were to be expected as the Tribunals neared the completion dates, but with goodwill and cooperation, they could be resolved.
SIVUYILE MAQUNGO ( South Africa) said the completion strategies were time bound and noted that referrals to national jurisdictions were central to their achievement. While commending countries that had accepted cases from the Tribunals, South Africa urged other countries where crimes had been committed to do the same, and welcomed the provision of technical assistance to those countries in reforming their justice systems.
Calling for full cooperation with the Tribunals in efforts to capture Félicien Kabuga, Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and other high-level fugitives, he welcomed the cooperation between the Yugoslavia Tribunal and the Montenegrin and Serbian authorities that had led to the capture of Vlastimir Djordjević.
He said it was essential to measure the Tribunals by the extent of their contribution to maintaining international peace and security. It was also important to consolidate their achievements and preserve the legacy of their work. The passage of time must not result in impunity for any fugitives, and tribunal archives must be stored in a place where future generations could have access to them.
Council President JOHAN VERBEKE ( Belgium), speaking in his national capacity, paid tribute to Ms. Del Ponte and stressed that the Tribunals’ work could not be considered completed before all fugitives were apprehended and brought to justice. In that regard, the completion dates could not be firmly fixed. While matters concerning such fugitives were the most important residual issues to be discussed, there were many more and they should be discussed comprehensively as soon as possible.
MILOS M. PRICA ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said authorities at state and entity level had undertaken every possible effort to locate and arrest indicted war criminals, and efforts had also been made to strengthen cooperation with authorities in Serbia to penetrate possible links and networks responsible for hiding those fugitives. The arrest of General Zdravko Tolimir on 13 May, the most recent result of those efforts, had left only four fugitives still at large. While the Bosnian authorities had taken action to diminish the manoeuvring space for anyone on their territory to help the fugitives, neither international nor domestic intelligence had revealed any trace within the country’s borders of their whereabouts.
He pledged that the Bosnian authorities would continue to undertake all possible measures to bring all perpetrators of war crimes to justice, whether before the Yugoslavia Tribunal or national courts. In 2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina had completed the development of a judicial framework relating to war crimes and, indeed, the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was continuing to process the significant number of cases referred to it by the Tribunal, as well as those raised by the country’s Prosecutor. Bosnia and Herzegovina called on the Security Council and the international community to support the Tribunal until its agenda was fully achieved.
MARTIN NGOGA, Prosecutor-General of Rwanda, appealed to the Council for urgent measures to ensure that indictees remaining at large did not evade justice, and for more transparency on the Tribunal’s part in naming States that were not sufficiently cooperative in that regard. Rwanda welcomed the Tribunal’s initiative to transfer cases to national jurisdictions and stressed the Government’s commitment to continuing its preparations to receive such cases. To the extent possible, all pending cases should be transferred for reasons of justice, efficiency, reconciliation and sovereignty, and in that light, it was surprising that the transfer of some cases to France had been under consideration.
He said that, in its pursuit of justice in the referred cases, his country expected the cooperation of other States in the pursuit of fugitives still at large, and requested the Security Council to adopt a resolution on that matter. In partnership with the Tribunal, Rwanda had enacted legislation concerning the referrals, which had included the abolition of the death penalty. The country was also engaged in building the capacity of its criminal justice system, and urged the international community to assist in that effort.
Calling for measures to remedy problems in the transfer of convicts to serve their sentences in his country, he stressed that the completion strategy should incorporate the transfer of all court documents and materials to Rwanda, since they were critically important for matters of reconciliation and civic policy. There was a need to strengthen partnership with the Government of Rwanda in all areas concerning completion of the Tribunal’s mandate.
PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ ( Serbia) said his country held fast to international standards calling for individual responsibility with regard to persons who had committed war crimes and violated other aspects of international humanitarian law. Serbia had firmly resolved to make a clear break with the legacy of the Milošević regime and, as such, the Government had responded to the Tribunal’s 1,600 requests in a timely and speedy manner, leaving only 2 to 3 per cent of those requests still pending. It had released more than 5,000 military, police and Government officials from having to keep State, official and military secrets. In addition, the National ICTY Cooperation Council had decided to grant the Yugoslavia Tribunal Prosecutor’s Office access to Serbian archives, including thousands of classified documents. Serbia had also taken steps to encourage voluntary surrender by indictees, which had led 14 of them to take up that offer by mid-2005.
Most recently, General Zdravko Tolimir had been arrested in a joint security operation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing to 38 the total number of indictees transferred to The Hague. That number had risen to 39 with the arrest of Vlastimir Djordjević, a former high police official, in a joint operation by Montenegro and Serbia. A national security council chaired by the President had been established to coordinate the activities of national intelligence agencies involved in locating and apprehending the four remaining fugitives -- Župljanin, Karadžić, Mladić and Hadžić. In addition, a new law had entered into force on 15 April, putting a mandatory freeze on all funds and assets held by indictees.
The War Crimes Council had been established on 1 July 2003 alongside a War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office to boost the capacity of domestic courts to process cases transferred to them by the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he said. As a result, the Zvornik case had been ceded to the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office and nine suspects involved in it had been arrested and charged. The case of the Batajnica mass graves was also under investigation and 12 persons suspected of killing 70 civilians in the village of Lovas in 1991 had been arrested and arraigned before the District Court in Belgrade last May. The War Crimes District Court in Belgrade and the Prosecutor’s Office were properly equipped to try the cases according to legal standards, leading the Tribunal to transfer the Kovačević case to Serbia’s judiciary.
So far, Serbia had requested the transfer of six cases with 12 indictees under rule 11 bis of the Tribunal’s rules on procedure and evidence, he said. To further cooperation, an agreement had been reached in July 2006 between Serbia’s Prosecutor’s Office and the Tribunal, whereby the Office had been given access to the Tribunal’s electronic database.
Serbia’s cooperation with neighbouring countries was also important, he said, noting that meetings had been held between the prosecutors of Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, within the framework of the “Palic Process”. The Prosecutors of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a similar signing was expected with the Prosecutor of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Serbia welcomed the agreement between the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Tribunal, enabling the OSCE missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia to monitor the trial of war crimes in the domestic courts of those countries.
NEBOJŠA KALUDJEROVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that, just yesterday, Vlastimir Djordjević, a long-time fugitive indictee, had been arrested in Bubva and extradited to the Tribunal, a matter that Montenegrin authorities had handled in an expeditious and professional manner, fulfilling their national, regional and international obligations, in full cooperation with the Tribunal and the competent Serbian authorities.
Mr. Djordjević’s apprehension was clear confirmation of Montenegro’s determination to respect and implement its international obligations, he said. Montenegro continued its intensive cooperation with the Tribunal and yesterday’s closing of the “first chapter” of the Djordjević case confirmed that broad cooperation with the Tribunal must go hand in hand with regional cooperation. Montenegro would continue to foster its relationship with the Tribunal.
Responses by Tribunal Officials
Mr. POCAR, President of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, stressed the transparency exercised in efforts to achieve the deadlines of the completion strategy, adding that the announced deadlines included efforts to accelerate the handling of appeals. International concern about impunity on the part of fugitives was clear, and partnerships were being set up with local jurisdictions.
Mr. BYRON, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, said in response to concerns expressed by the delegates of Rwanda and South Africa that cooperation with Rwanda remained strong. The treatment of acquitted persons required particular consideration in the interest of justice, he added.
Ms. DEL PONTE, Prosecutor of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, said Council members’ statements had shown unanimity on the issue of cooperation with the court and the need for the Tribunal to provide justice and end impunity. That meant, above all, the transfer of remaining fugitives to The Hague. Hopefully, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia were willing to follow through with cooperation.
In response to remarks by the representative of the Russian Federation, she said that just because Djordjević had been arrested in Montenegro did not mean he had never been in Russia.
Mr. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, highlighted changes in Rwandan laws that provided a framework for cooperation on war crimes cases with other courts in the region as well as with the Tribunal. While the Prosecutor was not asking for Council action on the six top fugitives, the Council would have to monitor the issue, particularly if the indictees were arrested just before the Tribunal wrapped up its work. The Council would have to decide whether the Tribunal would carry through with prosecution proceedings or pass the cases on to national courts.
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