|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5904th Meeting (AM)
MANDATE OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL WILL NOT BE FULLY ACHIEVED WITHOUT
ARREST, TRIAL OF FOUR REMAINING FUGITIVES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Council Briefed by Presidents, Prosecutors of Rwanda,
Former Yugoslavia Tribunals on Progress Carrying Out Completion Strategies
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia would not have fully achieved its mandate if four remaining fugitives -- Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić, Stojan Župljanin and Goran Hadžić -- were not arrested, the Tribunal’s President told the Security Council this morning.
Judge Fausto Pocar said “the Tribunal should not close its doors before all of those fugitives are tried”, and stressed that the Security Council should make clear that the trial of those fugitives by the international community did not hinge upon the Tribunal’s proposed completion strategy dates.
Judge Pocar was briefing the Council on progress made in completing the Tribunal’s work, together with the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Prosecutors of the two Tribunals. In 2003, the Council prescribed a completion strategy, by which all trials in first instance should be concluded by the end of 2008 and appeals by 2010. The Tribunals’ reports indicate that those targets will not be met, due to circumstances beyond the Tribunal’s control, including the non-apprehension of indictees.
Judge Pocar said the success of the Tribunal’s work was not only crucial for peace and security in the former Yugoslavia, it also set the stage for all present and future international criminal justice endeavours. “I ask you to help ensure that the Tribunal will be provided all support necessary to successfully fulfil its mandate and that you intensify your support to the region of the former Yugoslavia, so that their justice systems may continue the work started by this Tribunal,” he said. “Your continued support to the domestic judiciaries is crucial to ensuring that the rule of law is embedded in those societies.”
Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, added that the arrest of fugitives remained a key challenge. He strongly believed the that remaining fugitives -- Mladić, Karadžić, Župljanin and Hadžić -- were within reach of the authorities in Serbia and that the Serbian authorities could do more to locate and arrest them. “I cannot think of a situation in which the Tribunal, having been established to try those most responsible for atrocious crimes, will close its doors without bringing to justice all remaining fugitives,” he said.
Judge Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said the Tribunal had substantially complied with its completion strategy, while upholding trial fairness and the rights of the accused. Due to an additional workload because of newly arrested persons, trials would spill over into 2009. He asked the Council to authorize the Secretary-General to take all reasonable measures to ensure that the Tribunal would be able to retain its experienced staff in order to achieve its mandate.
Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, drew attention to the case of Félicien Kabuga, who had not been apprehended, despite calls by the Council, especially on Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo, to render all necessary assistance to bring him and all other such indictees to the Tribunal. There had been several reported sightings of him in Kenya. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had not been helpful in effecting the arrest of a number of fugitives who had been located in that country by the Tracking Team. Last week, however, the Government had indicated its readiness to discuss the matter.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members urged the Tribunals’ judges and staff to implement the completion strategies as soon and efficiently as possible. Referral of cases to national jurisdictions was one way of achieving that, they said, and called on the international community to continue support for the strengthening of those judicial systems. They also called on the States concerned to apprehend and transfer to the courts those fugitives that were on their territory. Addressing the aftermath of the Tribunals’ work, the so-called legacy and residual issues, speakers said that the informal Council working group on that matter should focus on such central issues as archives, enforcement, witness protection and the trials of the yet to be captured fugitives.
The representative of the Russian Federation referred to the “scandalous circumstances” around the acquittal of one of the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Ramush Haradinaj, because of “lack of evidence”. There had beenunprecedented pressure on witnesses, who had been subject to blackmail and intimidation. He found it amazing that those events had taken place in an atmosphere of complete impunity. The Haradinaj case had become another stain on the reputation of the Tribunal.
The representative of the United Kingdom, however, stressed that the Yugoslavia Tribunal was an independent body. Its judgements were based on the evidence presented to it. The Tribunals were the sole authorities to assess cooperation on war crimes and crimes against humanity, and States should not seek to compete with those assessments. Protection of witnesses was a critical issue, and previous reports had illustrated that witness protection had been a challenge in Kosovo and in Serbia.
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said conclusion of the Tribunal mandate should not become an amnesty. His Government was committed to the fight against impunity, and his country’s achievements in judicial reform were very visible. At this point, Rwanda needed a more sustainable and long-term mechanism to address such issues as the transfer and trial of remaining Tribunal cases, the pursuit of fugitives, the monitoring of sentences and the management of archives. There was no legal or administrative ground for failure or delay in having convicts sent to Rwanda to serve sentences. Rwanda was also ready to assume full custody of the archives.
Serbia’s representative pointed out that, of the 46 indictees requested by the Yugoslavia Tribunal, Serbia had transferred 41 to it, while 1 indictee had died. A search for the remaining four was continuing and high financial rewards had been offered for information leading to their apprehension. Out of 1,671 requests for assistance from the Office of the Tribunal Prosecutor related to the production of documents, 95 per cent had been complied with in full. The rest were being processed. In addition, all witnesses requested by the Tribunal had been given waivers and 123 individuals charged with the commission of criminal offences against international humanitarian law by Serbian judicial authorities had been tried before the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court of Belgrade.
There had been considerable achievements, yet some reports of the Prosecutor alleged that there had been “a lack of clear concerted strategy and systematic investigative activities (on the part of the Government) directed at locating and arresting fugitives”. Notwithstanding 20 visits to the State archives, the report said that “no access to these archives had been granted” and that document production was only partially satisfactory. Serbia had also done its best to protect and ensure witnesses, and had acted upon each of the Prosecutor’s requests for witness protection.
The representatives of Libya, Costa Rica, China, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Italy, Viet Nam, Belgium, Croatia, Indonesia, France, Panama, United States and Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union) also participated in the discussion.
The meeting started at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
When the Security Council met this morning to discuss the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, it had before it the assessments and reports of the Presidents and Prosecutors on the implementation of both courts’ completion strategies. [The Council, in its resolution 1503 (2003), established the expectation that the Tribunals would complete all “trial activities at first instance” by the end of 2008 and all work in 2010.]
According to the assessment and report of the President and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document S/2008/326), the Tribunal continues to make all efforts to meet the completion strategy deadlines of ending trials at first instance by December 2008, and of appeals by 2010. Factors outside the Tribunal’s control, however, have resulted in slippages in previously estimated completion dates, including illness of accused, failure of witnesses to cooperate and failure of States to ensure the arrest of outstanding fugitives, as well as late arrests of fugitives. The Tribunal now estimates that all of its pending trials in first instance will be completed in early 2010 and all appeals should be concluded in 2011. Those dates were projections only.
The Tribunal’s President, Judge Fausto Pocar, states that departures of experienced staff members are detrimental to the expeditious completion of the Tribunal’s mandate. In-house incentives, such as promotions and compensation time, have not been sufficient. The Tribunal needs additional support from the Council and Member States in developing other incentives. Also of critical importance is a positive resolution of the Judges’ pension in full parity with Judges of the International Court of Justice.
He points out that the Tribunal is an autonomous judicial body and does not act upon instructions from Governments or other entities. In order to be fully effective, however, the Tribunal has to rely on the cooperation of Governments and other entities. In addition to the lack of cooperation in arresting fugitives, the Tribunal is also faced by the refusal of Governments to provide access to evidence. Together with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Tribunal is the only universal international tribunal established with the support of the entire international community and dependent upon its continued support for the completion of its mandate.
The Prosecutor states that, in his belief, the remaining accused, namely Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, Stojan Župljanin and Goran Hadžić, are within reach of authorities in Serbia, and that Serbia can locate and arrest them. Failure to arrest them will delay the completion of the Tribunal’s work. Cooperation with Serbia in that regard remains unsatisfactory. The level of cooperation provided by Bosnia and Herzegovina remains generally satisfactory, while the level of cooperation provided by Croatia is partially satisfactory.
The Council also had before it assessments of the President and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the implementation of the completion strategy of the Tribunal, as at 1 May 2008 (document S/2008/322).
The report shows that the Tribunal remains on track with most projections announced to the Council in December 2007. Judgements in four cases involving seven accused are expected in the coming months. Two additional judgements in single-accused cases are anticipated towards the end of the year. Except for the Karemera et al case, the evidence phase in five ongoing trials involving 16 accused will be completed in 2008. As previously announced, judgement will be delivered by the end of the year in the Nsengimana case, and judgement drafting in the Butare and Military II cases will run into 2009. The evidence phase in two other single-accused cases yet to start is also projected to be completed in 2008.
As explained in the report, the revocation of the transfer of Michel Bagaragaza’s case to the Netherlands created an additional workload for the Tribunal, but it is anticipated that the judgement in his case will be delivered in 2008. Drafting in the Setako case will run into 2009, in view of the projected date by which the defence case will be completed.
Due to unexpected circumstances that have arisen since the last completion strategy report, the projections for two of the multi-accused cases and one single-accused case had to be slightly reassessed, the report states. In particular, because of the allocation of 10 trial weeks to the Kalimanzira case, the trial sessions in the Karemera et al. case are now projected to last approximately 10 weeks longer than initially anticipated. Judgement delivery, however, remains expected for the end of 2009. Previous projections are also affected by the recent arrests of three accused alleged to have been in positions of authority during the 1994 genocide. At best, their cases could be completed in the first half of 2009, with judgement delivery in the second half of the year. Likewise, the decisions on referrals to domestic jurisdictions of four accused may have an impact on the current projections.
According to the report, before those new situations arose, the Tribunal had already started the process of downsizing, designing plans for a progressive reduction of its activities and staff. The mandate of the judges is due to expire by the end of the year. However, in light of the new developments, the Tribunal is requesting the Council to consider an extension of the judges’ mandate so that they may complete the cases at trial. It is further indispensable that the Tribunal be provided with adequate resources to respond to the additional workload. The Tribunal’s ability to maintain or improve upon its current level of efficiency is largely dependent on the retention of its highly experienced and qualified judges and staff.
Concluding, the report notes that the workload of the Appeals Chamber is anticipated to increase substantially as trial work is completed. The President of the Tribunal is consulting with the President of International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia on that issue.
Introduction of Reports
FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, “As we come closer to fulfilling our mandate and in a climate of Tribunal fatigue, we more than ever need your continued backing so that we can fully and successfully achieve our mission.” Fifteen years ago, the Council had changed the course of history by creating the first truly international criminal jurisdiction. That decision had expressed the international community’s commitment to the “deeply held and universal values of human dignity, justice and the rule of law”. The international community and the Tribunal were now at a crossroads and decisions to be taken would be crucial to the enduring success of international criminal justice.
He said the Tribunal’s jurisprudence had contributed to the exponential development of international criminal law and was now widely used by other criminal jurisdictions. Over the years, procedures had been streamlined, resulting in the ability to simultaneously conduct eight trials involving 28 accused. Seven appeals were pending, while only six accused were awaiting trial. Except for the two arrested in 2007 -- Zdravko Tolimir and Vlastimir Ðorđević -- all trials would commence by the end of the year. All other cases had been completed. The expectation was that, by the end of 2009, all but three of the Tribunal’s pending trials would be completed. Working groups on speeding up trials and speeding up appeals had been established.
He said that, although the Tribunal’s achievements surpassed by far that of any other international or hybrid court, a number of challenges remained, in which the Council’s help and support was needed. One of those concerned the status and benefits of the staff and judges. Without those highly skilled and experienced people, it would be far more difficult for the Tribunal to fulfil its mandate. Additional support was needed in developing incentives to retain staff until the completion of work. The inequality suffered by judges in the assessment of their pension benefits should also be addressed.
The Tribunal had been able to refer 13 accused to domestic courts in the region, he continued. Currently, 10 accused had been transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2 to Croatia and 1 to Serbia. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence had been adopted in order to reinforce the partnership with domestic courts. Progress remained fragile, however. Extradition of nationals who were alleged war criminals was still problematic. There were sill extreme needs with respect to detention facilities and the training of prison and police officers. Enforcing sentences was also important. However, less than two months after having being convicted of systematic rape, torture and enslavement of women and underage girls and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, Radovan Stanković, whose case had been referred to Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been able to escape and had not been apprehended. That was not only a stain on the reputation of the authorities of Republika Srpska responsible -- it showed the scale of the problems faced by the Tribunal.
He said the mandate of international staff in the State Court and Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be terminated at the end of 2009. During his visit to the country, various actors had voiced concern about their impendent departure. He urged the international community to support an extension of their mandates.
The so-called completion strategy hade been devised to allow the continuation by domestic actors of those activities that had been initiated by the Tribunal. “In other words, the international community’s failure to support the institutions that are key to the development of the rule of law in the region will seriously undermine the Tribunal’s legacy.” He, therefore, urged the international community to bolster its support for criminal justice institutions in the region.
He reiterated that the Tribunal would not have fully achieved its goal of rendering justice if the four remaining fugitives -- Karadžić, Mladić, Župljanin and Hadžić -- were not arrested. “The Tribunal should not close its doors before all of those fugitives are tried and the Security Council should make clear that the trial of these fugitives by the international community does not hinge upon the International Tribunal’s proposed Completion Strategy dates.” He, therefore, urged the international community to find those fugitives, so that they would face justice. He also expressed disappointment at the failure of Serbia to provide adequate and diligent assistance in serving a summons for a key witness in one of the ongoing trials.
As for the Tribunal’s “legacy”, he said a final report on residual mechanisms had been submitted in September 2007, and the Tribunal had met with the Council working group on that issue. The Tribunal had also initiated a number of projects in order to ensure that its methods, practices and jurisprudence would be fully accessible to future international courts and for the transfer of war crimes cases to domestic jurisdictions. With the assistance of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, a compilation of best practices was being established. In conjunction with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Tribunal was assessing the impact of its outreach activities and what remained to be achieved to guarantee the Tribunal’s lasting impact on the work of domestic courts in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
He said the success of the Tribunal’s work was not only crucial for peace and security in the former Yugoslavia, it also set the stage for all present and future international criminal justice endeavours. “I ask you to help ensure that the Tribunal will be provided all support necessary to successfully fulfil its mandate and that you intensify your support to the region of the former Yugoslavia so that their justice systems may continue the work started by this Tribunal,” he said. “Your continued support to the domestic judiciaries is crucial to ensuring that the rule of law is embedded in those societies.”
The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, DENNIS BYRON, said the Tribunal had substantially complied with its completion strategy, while upholding trial fairness and the rights of the accused. Of the 92 indictments issued by the Prosecutor, 41 had been disposed of. Of the remaining 51, 4 had been earmarked for referral and 13 accused were still at large.
Despite the recent additional workload in connection with five accused, the evidence phase of all remaining cases, but four, would be completed by the end of 2008, with judgements expected at the latest in 2009, he continued. Additional workload included an indictment for contempt of court, an accused whose referral to the Netherlands had been revoked and three accused recently arrested. With three newly arrested persons considered as high-level accused, their trials ought to take place at the Tribunal. In view of the current workload, the scheduling of those three cases would necessarily extend into next year. As a result, the evidence phase in four cases, Karemera at al and the three recently arrested fugitives would spill over into 2009. He projected that seven permanent and eight ad litem judges could progressively dispose of those remaining cases during 2009. Two permanent and two ad litem judges would complete their assigned cases and resign by October 2008.
The new developments would require some adjustment to the terms of service of the judges, he said. It was his intention to very soon submit to the Presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly a request for consideration of that matter. An important element that would impact on the Tribunal’s work related to the speed and efficiency with which States secured and arrested the 13 remaining fugitives. Another element was the outcome of the five pending requests for referral that had not been put on the Tribunal’s judicial calendar. Although a Trial Chamber had rendered a decision on one of those last week, if an appeal was lodged, it would take three to four months before the Appeals Chamber would issue its ruling.
Continuing, he addressed the issue of the high turnover of staff, which required constant training and organizing. In that connection, he asked the Council to authorize the Secretary-General to take all reasonable measures to ensure that the Tribunal was able to retain its experienced staff in order to achieve its mandate.
During the reporting period, the Tribunal had benefited from the cooperation of many States, he said. Rwanda, in particular, had continued to provide support in facilitating the presence of witnesses in Arusha and providing other essential services. The United Republic of Tanzania had provided assistance in securing the arrest of Callixte Nzabonimana earlier this year. However, it had to be reported that the relocation of two acquitted persons had not yet been resolved. That issue, as well as that of the relocation of those convicted persons who would complete the service of the sentence, was increasingly becoming crucial.
He added that the Tribunal had continued to work with the Yugoslavia Tribunal on the development of arrangements for the performance of essential activities after the closure of the Tribunals. The work of the Committee on Archives was progressing and was expected to produce recommendations shortly. The Tribunal had also continued to actively contribute to the capacity-building in Rwanda and had delivered programmes that had benefited the judicial sector, civil society and academic institutions. Continued assistance of all Member States was needed for the Tribunal to accomplish its mandate. Its results would be seen as an example of how States were determined to fight against impunity for the most serious international crimes.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said his Office was fully committed to completing all trials and appeals in accordance with its mandate. Of the 28 individuals on trial, only 8 were in the prosecution phase. There had been no arrests during the reporting period and four accused were still at large. Over the past six months, the Office had taken a number of steps to reduce the time necessary to present the prosecution case in ongoing and upcoming trials without diminishing the prosecution’s case.
He expressed great concern with regard to witness protection, which directly affected his ability to present a case in an effective and timely manner. “Interference with witnesses, particularly in the form of witness intimidation, has become increasingly frequent and problematic,” he said. Despite the fact that formal investigations had been conducted, some of which had resulted in indictments, the problems were not abating. He asked States in which witnesses resided to assist the Tribunal by ensuring that the necessary measures are taken to avoid any witness interference.
He said that, as the Tribunal’s mandate neared its completion, cooperation between his Office and national judicial and prosecution authorities had become ever more important. Their roles were crucial for the strengthening of justice in the former Yugoslavia. His Office would continue to monitor all cases transferred to national jurisdiction, with the assistance of OSCE, and remained actively involved in transferring investigation files and other material requested by national prosecutors.
He said he also worked closely with national judicial and prosecution authorities from the former Yugoslavia and assisted them, so that they could continue to effectively prosecute war crimes cases. Last month, he had attended a conference in Croatia with prosecutors from the region, which had resulted in a renewed commitment from all participants to intensify national war crimes prosecutions. International support to national courts would remain crucial in the coming months and years. Expressing concern that future funding for the War Crimes Department in the Office of the Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina might be reduced, he expressed the hope that funds would be made available. The role of the War Crimes Prosecutor and Chamber was crucial in strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s still fragile justice system.
Addressing cooperation from the States of the former Yugoslavia, he said that, although Croatia had made available certain archival materials, a number of important requests for key documents were still pending. Bosnia and Herzegovina had generally responded in a satisfactory ways to requests for assistance. He encouraged the authorities in that country, however, to adopt a more proactive approach against those helping the fugitives evade justice.
He said Serbia had provided adequate responses to a number of requests for assistance. Significant obstacles remained, however, in relation to access to some key archives. The arrest of fugitives remained a key challenge. He strongly believed the that remaining fugitives -- Mladić, Karadžić, Župljanin and Hadžić -- were within reach of the authorities in Serbia and that the Serbian authorities could do more to locate and arrest them. One of the reasons given by authorities for that lack of cooperation was the political uncertainty in Serbia. He hoped that the new Government would empower the security service and the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor to search, arrest and transfer the remaining fugitives.
“We are committed to fulfilling our mandate,” he said. “At the same time, I cannot think of a situation in which the Tribunal, having been established to try those most responsible for atrocious crimes, will close its doors without bringing to justice all remaining fugitives.”
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, HASSAN B. JALLOW, said that, although a total of 86 accused persons would have been brought to account before the Tribunal by the end of the year and many cases currently on trial would have been concluded, it was evident that there would still be pending trial activity by the end of 2008. The situation had arisen essentially because of the three new arrests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France and Germany. In that connection, he joined the President of the Rwanda Tribunal in assuring the Council that the Tribunal had indeed spared no effort in “taking all positive measures” to meet the target date set in resolution 1503. Due to the new circumstances, an extension of the trial mandate should now be granted to 2009. The gains of the past and the need for a proper completion would be best sustained by permitting the Tribunal to continue with trial activity beyond the end of 2008 in order to conclude pending cases. The continuation of trial activity to 2009 would also require appropriate budgetary support from the General Assembly.
Although the Trial Chamber had recently rejected one of the five requests by the Prosecutor for the referral of the case to Rwanda for trial, the final decision on those requests might come only later in the year, following the Prosecutor’s decision to appeal against that ruling. In the event referral of cases to Rwanda turned out to be impossible, those five cases would constitute additional work in 2009 for the Tribunal. The cases of the fugitive indictees would pose a special problem, as the court’s rules did not permit trials in absentia. On the other hand, an acceptable national jurisdiction could not, so far, be found to receive those cases for referral. The Tracking Team of the Office of the Prosecutor continued to prioritize its activities and intensify its efforts to secure the arrests of more fugitives, whose number currently stood at 13.
The case of Félicien Kabuga had been a constant issue in the Council, which had called on all States, but especially Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo, to render all necessary assistance to the Tribunal on efforts to bring Kabuga and all other such indictees to the court. For the past three years, his Office had been engaged with the Government of Kenya, largely through the Joint Kenya-ICTR Task Force in the Kabuga case. There was documentary evidence of Kabuga’s entry into Kenya in 1994 and the grant of a resident visa to him, as well as a business permit in 1995. There had also been several reported sightings of him in Kenya. On two specific occasions in 1997 and 2005, the efforts to arrest him in Kenya had been thwarted.
Although, in May 2008, he added, following the Prosecutor’s request to the Government of Kenya for the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force, the Government had obtained a High Court order freezing one of the properties belonging to Kabuga, nothing else appeared to have been done. Kenya must now proceed to maintain an active search for the fugitive within its territory, with a view to arresting him and transferring him to the Tribunal, or establish his departure from its territory. Kenya had legal obligations to cooperate and the Council should request it to urgently fulfil those obligations.
The Tribunal and its Tracking Team had not had the benefit of much cooperation from the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in effecting the arrest of a number of fugitives who had been located in that country by the Tracking Team, he said. Last week, however, the Government had indicated its readiness to participate in a tripartite meeting with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the Tribunal to discuss the matter. He welcomed that development and looked forward to the meeting proposed for later this month. Nonetheless, it was necessary for the Council to reiterate its call for the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s cooperation with the Tribunal. Many States were now actively engaged in locating and investigating fugitives resident in their countries, with a view to extraditing them to Rwanda, or prosecuting them nationally. Some of them were suspects, initially investigated by his Office, but not indicted by the Tribunal in light of its completion strategy.
He said that, consistent with its mandate and its obligation to fight the culture of impunity, his Office would be hosting a forum, later this year, for selected national prosecuting authorities to discuss ways of enhancing cooperation with them and ensuring the preservation of the Prosecution Office evidentiary assets and modalities. His Office would also be hosting, early next year, the fifth annual colloquium for international prosecutors, which would focus on the challenges of completion and orderly closure of the ad hoc tribunals. His Office had also been actively involved over the last year in capacity-building initiatives, at the request of the National Prosecution Service in Rwanda. With generous funding from the European Union and the World Bank, his Office had held a series of training seminars and workshops for Rwandan prosecutors, investigators and information managers.
Regarding the investigation of allegations against the members of the Rwanda Political Front (RPF), he said it had been established that, on 5 June 1994, RPF soldiers had killed some 13 clergymen and 2 other civilians in Gitarama. Some of the perpetrators of that crime were reported to have died, while others were now serving within the Rwanda Army. The Rwandan Prosecutor General had communicated to the Prosecutor his decision to shortly indict and prosecute four serving senior military officers in the Rwandan Army. Rwanda shared concurrent jurisdiction with the Tribunal over such offences, and the Prosecutor’s Office would monitor those proceedings.
The anticipated reduction in the workload of the Tribunal by the end of 2008 was reflected in the process of downsizing through the reduction of resources, he said. That process had started within his Office towards the end of 2007 with the abolition of a number of posts within the Investigations Division in Kigali. Further substantial cuts in posts were planned for the Kigali office by the end of 2008. To prepare for the increased appellate workload, a number of posts would be redeployed from the Prosecutions Division to the Appeals and Legal Advisory Division, and the process of personnel selection was now under way. A limited number of posts would be retained within the Prosecutions Division to cover trial activities for 2009. The rest would be abolished. The closure of the Tribunals would create a large pool of experienced staff, whom the Organization should do its utmost to retain and utilize in other activities.
ABDELRAZAG E. GOUIDER ( Libya) said that, in 2003 and 2004, the Council had determined the completion strategies’ time frames. The Tribunals’ assessments showed that clear progress had been made in implementation of those strategies. Despite all that, the inability to detain some of the fugitives, who now enjoyed impunity, was a source of great concern. That regretful reality, to which no end was in sight, could, however, not be a reason for non-implementation of the completion strategies within the set time frames.
One way to reach the target of the completion strategies was to refer the largest possible number of cases to national courts, he said. That would not only reduce the work of the Tribunals, but also promote the rule of law in the respective States and the reconciliation processes. Since the Tribunals had been established, judicial institutions had been established in the States where the war crimes had been committed. Decisions still had to be made about the legacy and residual measures to be taken regarding the Tribunals.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) said both Tribunals were on their way to bringing their work to a conclusion within set deadlines, even though there were some delays in some of the cases. It was imperative that, when addressing the residual mechanisms, the fundamental rights of the accused would be respected. There must be a system for monitoring the safety of witnesses and victims, and the justice system must remain fair and effective.
He called on the States concerned to facilitate the work of the Tribunals, and urged the international community to increase its cooperation with the Tribunals, including providing information on the whereabouts of fugitives.
In July, the International Criminal Court would celebrate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. He called for a strengthened and shared sense of justice and urged more States to ratify the Statute. Universal ratification of the Statute could ensure that individual perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide would never again enjoy impunity.
CHEN PEIJIE ( China) said that, as completion deadlines were approaching, she expected the Tribunals to intensify their work in all areas. Since the introduction of the completion strategies, the Tribunals had been working hard to speed up their work, and she hoped they would continue to explore the possibilities of further improving their methods, making full use of resources in order to bring cases to closure according to schedule. Transfer of cases to countries in their respective regions was one of the key elements of the completion strategies. It was important to step up cooperation with national judicial organs and expand cooperation in that area. The Tribunals should also encourage and support new experiments, such as fugitive transfer.
The study of the Tribunals’ legacy and residual responsibilities was becoming a more pressing issue, she continued. In the first half of 2008, at the request of the working group, the Tribunals had furnished opinions on relevant information in that regard. Those issues should be addressed in a realistic manner. It would not be appropriate to both avoid existing problems and difficulties, and exaggerate the challenges and the workload. It would also not be appropriate to prejudge the solutions. It was important to observe the timetables, seeking economic and sound solutions. Her delegation believed that Security Council-defined principles and timetables should be observed in earnest, and the Tribunals should work towards that end. During the second half of 2008, the Tribunals should take bigger steps and the countries involved should intensify their cooperation with the Tribunals.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that the information provided by the Tribunals had caused serious concern. In essence, it had demonstrated the Tribunals’ inability to implement their completion strategies in time. For example, the Yugoslavia Tribunal planned to conclude the cases in the fist instance only in 2010, which it was supposed to have done by the beginning of 2008. The Council should actively deal with the implementation of the completion strategy and provide the Tribunals with guidance. In that connection, he proposed the adoption of a decision that the Tribunals could not begin proceedings in the first instance after 1 January 2009, with the residual cases referred to national jurisdictions. Individuals referred to by name in Council resolutions could come under the residual mechanism to be established in the near future.
He trusted that such a decision would fully comply with the criteria established by the Council, by which the Tribunals were to conduct proceedings only with regard to high-ranking individuals suspected of having major responsibility for the crimes within the Tribunals’ jurisdiction, he continued. Some 14 years had gone by since the establishment of the Tribunals. Now, independent court systems were functioning in the countries concerned, and he saw no reason to deny those countries their sovereign right of trying those accused.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he said there were at least some dynamics in the implementation of the key provisions of the completion strategy within that Tribunal and the transfer of cases to the national jurisdiction. However, it was difficult to glean any significant information on transfer of cases to national courts from the reports of the Yugoslavia Tribunal. As reported by the Tribunal in its previous report, from the time of the adoption of the rules of referral, the Prosecutor had submitted motions with regard to 22 accused. The current report referred to 14 referrals relating to 22 accused. In that connection, the current report referred to 22 referrals. The question was how many referrals had been submitted at the beginning of this year.
He also drew attention to the factual information presented by the Serbian side on its cooperation with the Tribunal, which made one question the objectivity of some parts of the Yugoslavia Tribunal report. That Tribunal had not complied with its completion strategy on time, and no convincing justification had been given for the delay.
In conclusion, he also referred to the scandalous circumstances around the acquittal of one of the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Ramush Haradinaj. The judges had referred to the lack of evidence on any single charge against him, at the same time making a statement on unprecedented pressure on witnesses, who had been subjected to blackmail and intimidation. He found it amazing that those events had taken place in an atmosphere of complete impunity. The Russian Federation had called for decisive reaction and ensuring a more effective witness-protection regime in Kosovo. The Haradinaj case had become another stain on the reputation of the Tribunal. He expected to receive a detailed report from the Tribunal on what had been done on the heels of the shocking revelations of the former Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte. He had a feeling that serious accusations, such as the massive forced removal of human organs, had simply been ignored by the Tribunal. The Tribunal had the duty to investigate those facts.
PAUL ROBERT TENDREBEOGO ( Burkina Faso) said that, although the Tribunals faced challenges in meeting the established deadlines, it would be desirable that those deadlines be respected, and he asked the Tribunals for initiatives to prevent delays. They should decide, as soon as possible, on referral of cases to national jurisdictions, and the international community should continue to strengthen those national systems.
He said that the work of the Tribunals, even after the end of their mandate, would only be effective if fugitives were caught and brought to trial. He was concerned that some States failed in their cooperation with the Tribunals, which were, after all, established by the Council. As for the residual functions of the Tribunals, he said the work of the informal working group of the Council should continue on such central issues as archives, enforcement, witness protection and the trials of the yet to be captured fugitives.
ZAHEER LAHER ( South Africa) welcomed the steps taken by the Tribunals to meet the deadlines of the completion strategies and applauded efforts to refer cases to national jurisdictions. While welcoming the requests by the Rwanda Tribunal Prosecutor to refer five cases to Rwanda, he respected the Trial Chamber’s decision to reject one of those requests. The national justice system should have the confidence of the Tribunals. He welcomed, in that regard, steps taken by Rwanda to improve its judicial system.
Expressing concern that, since the last reports, none of the fugitives sought by the Yugoslavia Tribunal had been arrested, he called on all States to carry out their arrest warrants. He welcomed the fact that the extension of the term of service of the ad litem judges had had the desired effect.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) commended the tangible progress in the implementation of the completion strategies by the Tribunals, but said that his delegation noted with increasing concern that cooperation with the Tribunals in securing the arrest and surrender of indictees had not improved. It was imperative that pending arrest warrants be executed promptly, lest a message be sent that time played in favour of the fugitives. It was important to avoid delays in the implementation of the completion strategy, and he was pleased that a new schedule had been prepared. However, the Council should avoid giving the impression that it intended to promote expeditiousness at the expense of fairness. The Tribunals should make every effort to complete all remaining cases as efficiently as possible and transfer remaining cases to national jurisdictions.
It was also important to build capacity in the countries directly impacted, he continued. Any support from the international community was more than welcome, including strengthening the judicial capacity of relevant States to conduct trials. In that connection, he commended the assistance rendered by United Nations Justice and Research Institute, as referred to in Yugoslavia Tribunal’s report. The legacy of the Tribunals was under serious consideration by the Council, with the working group discussing it in numerous meetings. He hoped a decision on the matter would soon be made.
HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said the pace of work on both Tribunals was satisfying. While the estimated timetables were, of course, subject to unforeseen circumstances, the two should take every step in their power to stay within the deadlines set out. All States, particularly those in the region, should cooperate fully with the Tribunals in the timely completion of work.
He said the number of fugitives was of concern, including the most senior ones, whose names had been mentioned in Council resolutions. They would be brought to justice, however, and the international community would not stop short of achieving it. The Tribunals should continue to make vigorous effects towards decisions concerning possible referrals of cases to national jurisdictions, so as to help the Council decide on an appropriate residual mechanism to ensure international trials for non-referable cases.
The international community must step up efforts over the next two and a half years to ensure all necessary support for the Tribunals to finish their work and their mandates, including by providing the resources to retain qualified staff and work out good solutions regarding legacy, he continued. Capacity-building efforts must also receive assistance to enhance the capacities of national jurisdictions for the handling of referred cases and legacy issues. The Council should make a timely decision on residual arrangements and mechanisms, with the assistance of the informal working group on tribunals and in close consultations with the Tribunals.
WILLIAM ROELANTS DE STAPPERS ( Belgium) said the Tribunals had carried out important work to implement their completion strategies. At the same time, it was a matter of regret that appeals proceedings had not been closed, and he requested the Tribunals to do everything possible to comply with the 2010 deadline. The Tribunals, however, could not be reproached for delays out of their control. The deadlines for work in Council resolutions 1503 and 1544 were indicative, and should be adapted depending on developments. The dates set in those texts should be considered in light of the circumstances.
The referral of certain indictments to national jurisdictions was an essential element in the completion strategies, but the decision whether to refer or not was a strictly judicial one, he continued. The legacy of the Tribunals and the Security Council, which had created them, would be compromised if those accused still remained at large and were not tried. He appealed to all States concerned to cooperate with the Tribunals. He took note with regret of the mixed review of Serbia’s cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal and urged that country to fully cooperate. He also encouraged the authorities in Kenya and other countries in the region to cooperate fully with Rwanda Tribunal.
Regarding residual functions, he said his country had been chairing the working group on those issues and could report substantial progress achieved. The group had studied methodically the list of residual functions presented by the Tribunals and would meet with the Presidents, Prosecutors and Registrars this afternoon. His delegation was preparing a document containing the options discussed in the working group. Among other important issues, he also highlighted the question of the protection of witnesses.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom), while recognizing progress made in the completion of case loads, urged the Tribunals to continue efforts to avoid further slippage in the timetables. The refusal by the Rwanda Tribunal to refer some cases to national jurisdiction might have consequences for meeting its deadlines. The capture and transfer of the remaining fugitives and indictees remained a priority, and it was unacceptable that 13 individuals wanted by the Rwanda Tribunal and the 4 wanted by the Yugoslavia Tribunal remained at large. She was concerned that, although the cooperation from most States in the region of the former Yugoslavia had been satisfactory, cooperation with Croatia and Serbia had been only partially so. She strongly urged all countries in the region to maximize and sustain efforts to capture all indictees.
While welcoming the signature of the European Union’s Stabilisation Association Agreement with Serbia, she noted that implementation of the interim agreement and ratification would only take place once the Council had determined that Serbia fully cooperated with the Tribunal. She also urged the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya to fully cooperate with the Rwandan Tribunal to locate and arrest fugitives.
She said her country did not share the Russian Federation’s assessment expressed in the Council this morning and she stressed that the Yugoslavia Tribunal was an independent body. Its judgements were based on the evidence presented to it. The Tribunals were the sole authorities to assess cooperation on war crimes and crimes against humanity, and States should not seek to compete with those assessments. Protection of witnesses was a critical issue, and previous reports had illustrated that witness protection had been a challenge in Kosovo and in Serbia. Full cooperation of all Governments in that regard was vital. She reiterated the need for the most serious fugitive offenders to face justice, including Karadžić and Mladić, responsible for Srebrenica, the worst massacre since the Second World War.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said the establishment of the Tribunals 15 years ago by the Council had been a defining moment in the development of international criminal justice, and Croatia had been one of the early proponents. As the completion date of their work was drawing near, the international community had to make sure that every effort would be made that those most responsible were brought to justice, however long that took. It was essential that Karadžić, Mladić, Hadžić and Župljanin face justice, or the mandate of the Yugoslavia Tribunal would not have been fulfilled.
He said it was important to balance the interests of the most affected countries with the interest of the international community in preserving the Tribunals’ legacy. As the significance of the archives issue extended beyond judicial processes, he hoped a solution could be found that reconciled the interests of all stakeholders in the region, most notably those of the victims and survivors. As the Croatian judiciary was able to conduct trials of even the most sensitive cases, it stood ready to take over any of the remaining cases involving Croatian citizens or crimes committed in Croatia. It was also wiling to take up responsibilities related to the serving of sentences for crimes committed in Croatia.
Croatia actively supported the work of the Tribunal, including in providing documents. The Prosecution had been given full access to State archives, including those of the Ministry of Defence. So far, some 19,000 documents had been handed over. Out of 800 assistance requests, only 1 remained partially unfulfilled. 1,833 documents pertinent to that request had already been handed over and investigations were ongoing to ascertain the existence of other documentation.
Justice was an essential prerequisite for a lasting peace, and the failure to establish individual criminal accountability undermined the long-term legacy of the Tribunals, he said. The Tribunal’s judgement in the case of the “Vukovar Three” had provoked strong reactions in Croatia, particularly among the victims’ families and friends. While appeals had been filed in the Mile Mrkšić and Veselin Šljivančanin case, it was difficult to comprehend why no appeals had been filed in the case of the acquitted Miroslav Radić, the third participant in the massive crime where, among other things, more than 260 people had been summarily executed. He expressed the hope that the appellate judgment in the Vukovar case could render justice that could stand the test of time.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) underscored the importance of the completion strategies, noting with appreciation that concrete measures had been taken to implement it. He fully recognized the significance of the continuous efforts of the Tribunals to achieve greater efficiency by exploring further ways to expedite proceedings, while respecting the rights of the accused. He also emphasized the importance of establishing a mechanism to deal with the Tribunals’ residual functions, particularly those related to the fugitives at large, transfers of cases to national jurisdiction, witness protection, sentence supervision and archives. The mechanism should only hold particular residual functions that were necessary. Other functions should be transferred to national jurisdiction or other relevant international bodies.
The most essential residual function that the Council should consider was the trial of fugitives, he continued. All States concerned should fully cooperate with the Tribunals to bring all perpetrators to justice. Impunity was unacceptable. Another significant feature of the completion strategies that related to the residual functions was the referral of cases to national courts. It was vital for the international community to continue its support for capacity-building programmes of relevant national courts. He commended the efforts of the Tribunals to strengthen their cooperation with respective national authorities.
He added that the Council’s informal working group had successfully arrived at some areas of agreement in identifying the residual functions and their possible solution. The agreement would serve as a good common ground to move to a new phase of work, by focusing on possible elements for a resolution. He encouraged continued close cooperation between the Tribunals and the working group on the Tribunals’ legacy and, most crucially, on mechanisms necessary for disposing the residual functions.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said the Tribunals had been established on the basis of the principles that no crime should go unpunished and those responsible should get a fair trial. Those objectives had been achieved, and the courts should receive full support to conclude their activities. The timetable had been laid down by the Council, and he commended the Tribunals for their efforts to comply with those deadlines. The decision to authorize the Yugoslavia Tribunal to recruit additional ad litem judges had been useful, in that regard. The courts should be able to carry out their activities in a sustained manner, without compromising justice.
Continuing, he said that he realized that referral to national jurisdictions was not always easy and progress also depended on cooperation with States. In that connection, he noted the indicative nature of the deadlines, and encouraged the Tribunals to do everything possible to comply with them. The major uncertainty in the completion strategies was the existence of indictees still at large. France was firmly committed that the remaining fugitives, including Mladić and Karadžić, be brought to justice, and deplored the lack of cooperation shown by Serbia. France hoped the problem of fugitives would be solved by the end of the Tribunals’ work. If not, the issue should be managed within the framework of the Tribunals’ legacy.
The informal working group on the residual functions of the Tribunals had been working with great effectiveness, he said. He hoped a resolution would be adopted by the end of the year. Among the main issues, he emphasized the need to deny impunity and subject to justice the fugitives still at large. France was also dedicated to allowing necessary functions to continue. Overall, the United Nations and the Council were duty-bound to ensure the integrity and lasting nature of the Tribunals’ legacy. The completion of their work should not mean the renouncement of the principle of justice and rejection of impunity.
GIANCARLO SOLER TORRIJOS ( Panama) said he hoped the satisfactory cooperation the Yugoslavia Tribunal received from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would continue, especially on the issue of witness protection. He was distressed, however, that Serbian cooperation on access to archives and capturing fugitives was not satisfactory. Taking note of the new cases for the Rwanda Tribunal, he said the extra workload could affect the completion strategy. He also expressed concern regarding the insufficient cooperation from the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya in the apprehension of fugitives.
He said that, although the Tribunals had not been established as permanent institutions, they needed the infrastructure and staff necessary to ensure they could meet the targets set by the completion strategies. The issue of staff retention should, therefore, be addressed by the Council.
Council President ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States), speaking in his national capacity, urged the Tribunals to continue the implementation of their completion strategies with maximum efficiency. He commended the Tribunals for their efforts to transfer those indictees not accused of the most serious crimes to national jurisdictions. Their efforts must be accompanied by help from the international community to build the judicial capacities of Rwanda and the countries in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
He urged the international community to work towards the arrest of all fugitive indictees as soon as possible. He was troubled by reports that the Government of Kenya was not fully cooperating in seeking the apprehension of Kabuga. The apprehension of Yugoslavia Tribunal indictees, including Karadžić and Mladić, remained essential to ensuring reconciliation in the Balkans. He called on all countries in the region, in particular on Serbia, to bring the fugitives to the Tribunal. He also urged the countries in the region to increase information sharing and allow transfer of war criminals between States, as appropriate.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union deeply regretted the fact that 17 indictees were still at large. Since the last completion strategy report, only one fugitive had been arrested. While commending the arrest of a top-level fugitive by Tanzanian authorities, the European Union urged all States to immediately and unconditionally cooperate with both Tribunals. In that connection, she highlighted the need for full cooperation with the Prosecutors of both Tribunals by providing access to archives and documents; protecting witnesses; and tracking, arresting and surrendering the remaining fugitives.
In the context of Yugoslavia Tribunal, the Union was committed to seeing all four remaining indictees face international justice, she said, expressing regret that Serbia’s cooperation during the reporting period had remained unsatisfactory. Statements by Serbian President Boris Tadić following recent elections on making cooperation with the Tribunal one of the priorities of the new Government were encouraging. Full cooperation with the Tribunal was a State responsibility, regardless of which Government was in office. The Union also called upon States in the region, in particularly Kenya, to fully cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal. The Union had adopted three common positions and a Council regulation in order to support effective implementation of the mandate of the Yugoslavia Tribunal by imposing the freezing of funds and economic resources and restrictions on the admission of persons who help persons indicted by the Tribunal to evade justice.
Commending both Tribunals for taking all possible measures, including additional hearings, to complete all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008 and all work in 2010, she particularly welcomed the recent adoption of resolution 1800, allowing the Secretary-General to temporarily exceed the maximum of 12 ad litem judges at the Yugoslavia Tribunal. However, the Union took note of the estimated delay to the original completion strategy deadlines and urged the Tribunals to continue identifying further reforms to complete their work as efficiently and promptly as possible. The Union and its member States stood ready to work with the Council to find the most appropriate cost-effective solutions regarding residual and legacy issues, which would address the questions of a practical nature, preserve the immense achievements of the Tribunals and secure their long-term legacy.
She welcomed the creation of specialized institutions for the prosecution and trial of intermediate and lower-rank accused in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The Union also fully supported the strengthening of the Rwandan judicial system and the improvement of its capacity to start prosecuting cases awaiting referral from the Tribunal. National authorities needed to exercise fair judicial proceedings and ensure that sentences were served in accordance with appropriate security standards. Also needed were adequate witness protection measures and continued monitoring of referred trials. While transfer of intermediate and lower-rank cases was a feasible solution, in the light of the completion process, the Union remained convinced that high-level remaining fugitives, once apprehended, must be tried before an international tribunal. The Union also took note of the need to seek additional avenues for the transfer of convicted persons from the United Nations Detention Unit.
The international community must strive to secure the archives of the Tribunals and protect the long-term legacy of the Tribunals and the credibility of international justice, she said. She welcomed the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Archives and the preparation by the Tribunals of a manual to identify the challenges they had faced in the conduct of war crimes cases. The Union also commended the Outreach Programme of the Tribunals that disseminated the work of the Tribunals to the wider population.
MARTIN NGOGA, Prosecutor General of Rwanda, said legislation had been passed in 2006 to govern the transfer of cases from both the Tribunal and other States to Rwanda. An agreement for the transfer of Tribunal convicts to Rwandan custody had been signed on 4 March. Both the Prosecutor and Registrar had expressed satisfaction with the level of Rwanda’s readiness and willingness to receive the Tribunal’s workload.
Continuing, he said the fugitives still at large were not limited to the 13 appearing on the Tribunal’s list. The conclusion of the Tribunal mandate should not become an amnesty for those not included on the condensed list. He appreciated the efforts of some Governments who had apprehended some fugitives. The proceedings for their extradition to Rwanda were under way, thanks to judicial sector reforms and capacity development. His Government was committed to the fight against impunity. Five requests for transfer of cases to Rwanda had been filed by the Tribunal Prosecutor since May 2007 and five referral applications were pending before five benches of the Tribunal. Still, the direction that the issue of the referral of cases was taking was of concern, because the process had the potential to undermine the trust and reputation Rwanda had painstakingly built and which other Governments trusted.
He said his country’s achievements in judicial reform were not intangible. They were very visible. The legacy inherited from the Tribunal should be one that supported the growth of Rwanda’s institutions. The Tribunal’s decisions should not be used to undermine the national system. Further, Rwanda had been portrayed as a country that was opposed to acquittals, which was a serious misinterpretation, when it had in fact protested the conduct of only a single. The Prosecutor’s intention to appeal the decision in the Barayagwiza case would remain of interest and, regarding the decision on the Kabgayi case, he reiterated that readiness to take it through the judicial process in strict observance of the norms and principles of a fair trial.
In conclusion, he said his country and the Security Council shared the desire to find an amicable conclusion of the Tribunal’s ad hoc mandate. At this point, Rwanda needed a more sustainable and long-term mechanism to address issues, such as the transfer and trial of remaining Tribunal cases, the pursuit of fugitives still at large, the monitoring of sentences and the management of archives. There was no legal or administrative ground for failure or delay in having convicts sent to Rwanda to serve sentences. Rwanda was also ready to assume full custody of the archives and formal discussions on the matter should begin as soon as possible.
PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ ( Serbia) said that, on 29 May, his Government had adopted a report on its cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal in the last six months and a framework for future cooperation. That report, which had been circulated to members of the Security Council, showed that, of the 46 indictees requested by the Tribunal, Serbia had transferred 41 to it, while 1 indictee had died before the transfer procedure could be completed. A search for the remaining four was continuing and high financial rewards had been offered for information leading to their apprehension.
Also, out of 1,671 requests for assistance from the Office of the Tribunal Prosecutor related to the production of documents, 95 per cent had been complied with in full, he went on. The rest were being processed. Representatives of that Office had made 20 visits to the Serbian State archives under the Proposal on Principles and Modalities of Access to the State Archives (2006). In addition, all witnesses requested by the Tribunal had been given waivers and 123 individuals charged with the commission of criminal offences against international humanitarian law by Serbian judicial authorities had been tried before the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court of Belgrade.
Continuing, he said Serbia had set up a team to track down Tribunal fugitives, which, assisted by representatives of the Office of the Tribunal Prosecutor, reported regularly on its activities.
Those had been considerable achievements, the result of hard work and dedication, he said. Yet, some reports of the Prosecutor appeared to be unappreciative, as they alleged that there was “a lack of clear concerted strategy and systematic investigative activities (on the part of the Government) directed at locating and arresting fugitives”. Notwithstanding 20 visits to the State archives, the report said that “no access to these archives had been granted” and that document production was only partially satisfactory.
He stated that Serbia had done its best to protect and ensure witnesses and had acted upon each of the Prosecutor’s requests for witness protection. However, Serbia, just like any other country, could not intervene and influence witnesses to testify voluntarily. The choice of witnesses was entirely in the hands of the Prosecutor and the responsibility for their refusal to testify voluntarily could not, therefore, be attributed to States.
Of much greater concern was the inability, even flat refusal, by some countries and organizations to provide witness protection, as well as the disappearance of witnesses, he went on. That was evidenced by the Haradinaj case, where the defence counsel had stated that they had no case to answer. Serbia welcomed the Prosecutor’s motion to appeal the decision in that case and the institution of a contempt of court procedure. Serbia hoped that the Tribunal would be provided appropriate assistance by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and other stakeholders this time around.
Serbia was appalled by the allegations about human trafficking contained in the book by former Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, he added. According to those allegations, Serbs and other non-Albanians of Kosovo and Metohija had been abducted and transferred to the territory of the Republic of Albania, where they had been tortured and had their vital organs removed. The Republic of Serbia had instituted legal proceedings to investigate and try the perpetrators of those heinous crimes and, to that end, requested international assistance, including from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Another problem highlighted by Ms. Del Ponte’s book was the disturbing and absolutely unacceptable practice of former high-ranking Office of the Prosecutor officials disclosing classified information in public statements, books and/or memoirs. His country was very concerned about that practice and would ask for international cooperation to redress the situation.
In closing remarks, Judge POCAR thanked Council members for comments made, which the Yugoslavia Tribunal would take into account. He reiterated that the Tribunal would conclude its work as speedily as possible, while respecting the principles of fair trial and due process.
He stressed that the referral of cases, an important tool in the completion strategy, should be the object of careful judicial decisions, in which factors such as fair trial and due process had to be taken into account. The Tribunal had been authorized by the Council to refer only lower-ranked accused to national jurisdictions. There were very few cases that had not started yet, including those of the fugitives. It was his understanding that those fugitives, once apprehended, would be tried by the Tribunal and not through referral to national jurisdiction.
Judge BYRON thanked the member States for their thoughtful statements, assuring them that he had taken full notice of the comments made. The statements had demonstrated the continuing commitment of the Security Council to the high ideals of international criminal justice and eradication of impunity. He was grateful for the indication of general appreciation for the Rwanda Tribunal’s work. The judges and staff would remain fully committed to doing their best to complete their mandate.
Regarding referrals, he said the Tribunal would continue its work with capacity-building and reminded members of the Council that capacity-building was not part of the court’s budget and any assistance in that area would be appreciated.
Mr. BRAMMERTZ thanked Council members for their encouraging and sometimes critical remarks, as well as for the emphasis they had put on the need for cooperation from the countries in the region and the support of the international community. Reiterating his determination to adhere to the completion strategy, he said a number of cases had already been referred to national jurisdictions and some more were being planned. His Office was in contact with national prosecutors in the region on a daily basis. He urged for further support for the work of those prosecutors.
* *** *