Briefing Security Council, Presidents of Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Say More Resources, Secure Staff Contracts Needed to Wrap Up Work Efficiently
Briefing Security Council, Presidents of Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Say More Resources, Secure Staff Contracts Needed to Wrap Up Work Efficiently
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6342nd Meeting (AM)
Briefing Security Council, Presidents of Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda,
Say More Resources, Secure Staff Contracts Needed to Wrap Up Work Efficiently
‘We Need You to Throw Us a Lifeline,’ Says Head of Yugoslav Tribunal,
Citing Pressures Due to Overburdened Judges, Tight Schedules, Staff Shortages
The Presidents of the tribunals on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, reporting on both progress and unforeseen delays in completing their work, called for greater assistance in that effort as they briefed the Security Council this morning.
“We at the Tribunal are dedicated to completing the work entrusted to us so that peace, justice and reconciliation may prevail,” Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia told the Council as he described the pressures under which his staff and judges were working. “However, we need more support from our parent organ, you, the Security Council. We are hanging by a thread and we need you to throw us a lifeline.”
Presenting his report (document S/2010/270, Annex I), which notes that the trials of all 161 persons indicted had been completed beside the 25 now in process — with 10 appeals pending — Mr. Robinson said that, during the reporting period the Tribunal ran 10 trials simultaneously in its three courtrooms, far more than ever before. The resulting doubling-up of judges and staff were contributing factors to a “slippage” in meeting deadlines.
He stressed that the Council-mandated deadlines of the Completion Strategy (2010 for both Tribunals), in any case, could only be seen as forecasts, with many variables affecting each case. In order for the Tribunal to finish its mandated work, he asked that his urgent requests be taken seriously for more resources, more secure contracts for staff and extensions of judges’ mandates up to 2014, in the case of appeals, and 2013 for those presiding over ongoing trials. “It is simply not rational to assign judges to cases that would last longer than their mandates,” he stressed. He also underlined the importance of the arrest two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, for the completion of the Tribunal’s work.
Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, introduced the report contained in document S/2010/259, which says that the forecasts of the Completion Strategy for the reporting period had been largely met, with the Tribunal intending to complete its trials before the end of 2011, with appeals to be completed by the end of 2013. He also appealed for assistance to alleviate staffing shortages and asked that judges be extended as appropriate.
He said the biggest task ahead was the arrest of the remaining 11 fugitives, which depended on State cooperation in tracking and arresting them. In that context, he said the Prosecutor had reported to him that Kenya continuously failed to comply with its obligations in regard to the arrest of the Rwandan fugitive Félicien Kabuga.
Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, and Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Chief Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, presented their sections of the respective reports.
Following those presentations, speakers welcomed progress in implementing the Tribunals’ Completion Strategies, calling on the two bodies to finish their work as efficiently as possible while upholding international norms of justice. They also supported the creation of a residual mechanism, which would be important for the objective of peace and national reconciliation.
In that context, most called also called for the extension of judges and measures to make it easier to retain staff, and underlined the importance of the arrest and trial of the 13 outstanding fugitives, encouraging Governments in both regions to cooperate fully with the Tribunals. Many also called for building national capacity in both regions so that further cases could be referred to them, and for the Tribunals to raise awareness of international criminal and humanitarian law. In that regard, they also stressed the importance of a “residual mechanism” to complete outstanding work and preserve the archives of the Tribunals.
The representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Rwanda and other States, described their cooperation with, and expectations of, the respective Tribunals during the completion period, while the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Security and Provincial Administration of Kenya, rejected the allegation of non-cooperation with the Rwanda Tribunal in the matter of Mr. Kabuga, provoking a response from Prosecutor Jallow.
The representative of Austria, speaking as Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, described progress on a draft resolution to establish an international residual mechanism for criminal tribunals, after having requested the Office of Legal Affairs to prepare a draft statute of that mechanism based on the Tribunal’s statutes.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the United States, Uganda, Gabon, Japan, United Kingdom, Turkey, Brazil, Nigeria, Lebanon, France, China, Russian Federation and Mexico.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1:18 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings from the Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
PATRICK ROBINSON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that the Tribunal had continued to work efficiently, in accordance with the highest standards of international due process, but there were unavoidable reasons for slippage in its completion schedule. The court had commenced all of the trials pending on its docket and conducted proceedings in 10 trials simultaneously in its three courtrooms. The resulting doubling-up of judges and staff were contributing factors to the slippage.
It must be underscored, he said, that the schedule was merely a forecast that was subject to change depending on the trajectory of each case. It would have been impossible to anticipate the death of a lead Counsel, the decision of the Prosecution to add charges on the eve of a trial, as has occurred, or the discovery of new evidence by Serbia that could affect seven of the nine ongoing trials.
Another reason for slippage was the alarming rate of staff attrition, coupled by the fact that 10 trials were running with staffing appropriate for six trials, he said. He had previously underscored such problems with the utmost urgency. The granting of permanent contracts for staff would provide them with an incentive to remain with the Tribunal. He had lobbied extensively for permanent status, but they still suffered discrimination in that regard.
He urged the Council to ensure that his staff’s right to permanent status be respected. He also asked the Council to help extricate the Tribunal from the “institutional muddle” into which it had been immersed by the differences in interpretation of General Assembly resolutions on contracts for the body. The provision of the end-of-service grant must also become reality, along with other measures, to prevent attrition from worsening.
The Tribunal, he said, had taken immediate measures to try as much as possible to mitigate the slippage in the schedules, including reconstituting the Working Group on Speeding Up Trials and actively integrating its recommended reforms.
Turning to compensation to victims, he said that “justice must not only be retributive — it must be also restorative”. In order to contribute to a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia, he called for the establishment, without further delay, of a trust fund for victims of crimes falling within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Finally, he stressed that the Judges needed job security as much as other staff and reiterated the benefits to the Completion Strategy of granting mandates to them up to 2013, in respect of those Judges whose trial and appeals would be ongoing at that time, and up to 2014 for the remaining appeals Judges. “It is simply not rational to assign Judges to cases that would last longer than their mandates,” he said.
“We at the Tribunal are dedicated to completing the work entrusted to us so that peace, justice and reconciliation may prevail in the region of the former Yugoslavia,” he said. “However, we need more support from our parent organ, you, the Security Council. We are hanging by a thread and we need you to throw us a lifeline.”
DENNIS BYRON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, presented the thirteenth Completion Strategy report for that court, saying that since last December, two trial and two appeals judgements had been rendered, while the number of remaining judgements to be delivered at the trial level was now down to 13. He expected judgements in seven trials with respect to 15 accused before the end of 2010; the six remaining judgements with respect to 11 accused would be delivered in 2011. Two of the three ongoing trials, and the two trials that had yet to begin, would also continue into 2011.
The two single-accused cases in evidence phase — the Ngirabatware and Nzabonimana trials — were taking “significantly longer” than expected, he said, with judgements now expected for the second half of next year, mainly due to the parallel involvement of judges in several other trials, and that the fair trial requirements in both cases linked to an alibi defence, which required cooperation from a Member State.
For the rest of this year and beginning of 2011, work would concentrate on judgement drafting in all remaining cases, he continued, adding that the expected judgement delivery in several cases before the end of 2010 would reduce the trial workload. “We believe that our goal of completing the first instance trials, based on the currently expected workload, within the next year can be achieved,” he said. For the appeals, that meant maintaining the completion goal by end-2013.
Turning to the staffing situation, as mentioned before, he said the high turnover and recruitment difficulties in Chambers and in the Prosecutor’s Office were main obstacles to meeting judgement delivery goals. By way of example, he cited the Military II trial, which spanned 395 days, with the Chamber hearing 216 witnesses and admitting 965 exhibits. “You can imagine the impact of the departure of members of the drafting team”, just months before the expected judgement date, he said. He urged the Council to issue a statement expressing understanding and encouraging further work with other United Nations bodies to address problems.
As for his requests, he said the terms of office for all but two judges must be extended, adding that the number of permanent judges to fill key positions was insufficient. The Tribunal would also need a new roster of ad litem judges, as the large majority of judges on the benches of the two new trials would be ad litem judges who would also take on most of the remaining judicial work at the trial level.
On the issue of State cooperation, he noted “good news” that one of the recently acquitted persons had been successfully relocated in March. But despite efforts by the Registrar, three others remained at safe houses in Arusha. For André Ntagerura, it had been almost four years after confirmation of his acquittal by the Appeals Chamber and he called on Governments to allow those lawfully acquitted men to settle in their territory. State cooperation was also essential for the Tribunal’s daily judicial work and he stressed the importance of responding quickly to requests for information.
As for the biggest task ahead — the arrest of the remaining 11 fugitives — he believed all would agree that such fugitives were not an “acceptable legacy” to leave to the residual mechanism. The Tribunal depended on State cooperation in tracking and arresting fugitives and, in that context, he said the Prosecutor had reported to him that Kenya continuously failed to comply with its cooperation obligations under article 29 of the Tribunal’s statute. As fugitives were suspected to reside in and cross the borders of several other countries, he urged boosting efforts to shut down safe havens.
In closing, he said the Tribunal had cooperated with Rwanda over the last 16 years to ensure the smooth functioning of trials and he welcomed information provided by authorities that one of the advocates before the Tribunal had been released yesterday. Only two weeks ago, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the International Criminal Court Review Conference of a “new age of accountability”. While that Court represented the future, today, and in the coming years, “it is still for us to write the last chapters in the history of the ad hoc tribunals, the pioneer institutions of this development”. He urged everyone to do all possible to make those last chapters a success story.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the Yugoslav Tribunal, providing an update of the Tribunal’s work, said there were no more trials in the pretrial stage. On 10 June, the Trials Chamber delivered a “milestone judgement” in the Prosecutor v. Vujadin Popović et al case of July 1995, with the conviction of seven former high-ranking Serbian officers of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr. Popović and Ljubisa Beara were found guilty of genocide, among other crimes, and had been sentenced to life in prison. It was an important judgement for victims of those crimes, and for other cases in the Tribunal.
Moreover, he said the Chamber’s findings further confirmed that those guilty were under the supervision of Ratko Mladić, who was still at large, and there was an urgent need to bring him to justice. It was regrettable to see slippage in the trial programme. While most of the difficulties were beyond the Tribunal’s control, it remained committed to the completion of its work.
He went on to say that to fulfil its mandate, his Office relied on the cooperation of States and international organizations, noting that Serbia had continued to respond to its requests for assistance by providing access to its archives, among other things. Authorities also had provided Mr. Mladić’s notebooks, as well as tapes seized during a February tracking operation. The “voluminous” material was being analysed and his Office would seek its entry into various trials. And while the search for Mr. Mladić was the highest priority, efforts so far had produced few tangible results. Strategies must be reviewed and his Office had requested Serbian authorities to intensify their search operations and increase capacity. He also had expressed those concerns at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council.
Turning to Croatia, he said authorities had generally been responsive to requests for assistance from his Office, but missing documents remained an outstanding issue. In October 2009, Croatia created an inter-agency task force and, while the quality of interviews had improved, no information on the missing documents had been provided and several avenues remained unexplored. His Office had been assured Croatia would expend its work and he expressed hope that activities would result in concrete results. He awaited results to see whether Croatia had intensified its investigation and fully accounted for the missing documents.
As for Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said that country had responded adequately to requests for assistance, and he particularly welcomed the assistance provided by the Office of the High Representative in that regard. On judicial proceedings, the Prosecutor’s Office supported national prosecutions and the Special Office of War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In that context, he encouraged the international community to continue providing support for war crimes cases.
Indeed, building the capacity of local courts to try war crimes was essential for lasting justice, he said, adding that the transfer of cases to courts and prosecution offices in the region had been completed. His Office continued to support ongoing capacity-building projects and he expressed gratitude to the European Union in that regard. All authorities must strengthen the region’s ability to try war crimes cases and more efforts were needed for a coordinated approach to war crimes prosecutions across the region. At the same time, he said recent conciliatory gestures had created an environment for dialogue, which was necessary for the courts to do their work.
As announced last year, the Prosecutor’s Office had begun downsizing and had thus far abolished 22 posts, he said, noting that despite slippage in the trials schedule, it was following a strict policy of decreasing staff. Eyes were also on the Tribunal’s closure and discussions with the Working Group on the creation of a residual mechanism were under way. July would mark 15 years since genocide in Srebrenica, and while progress had been made in domestic war crimes prosecutions, the memory of events was still vivid. That painful chapter could only be closed when all those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law had been brought to trial, and he called for the arrest of the two remaining fugitives: Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić.
HASSAN JALLOW, Chief Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, said that, during the six-month period since his last report to the Council, the court had made varying degrees of progress in those areas on which it had focused, among others, preparations for the trials of the two new arrestees, Grégoire Ndahimana and Idelphonse Nizeyimana; the conclusion of the part-heard trials; and the intensification of tracking efforts to apprehend and transfer to the Tribunal of the remaining 11 fugitives.
Also during that period, the evidence phase of the proceedings in five cases was completed and the prosecution phase in two others was also concluded. The defence stage of three cases was ongoing. However, commencement of the two new trials, the evidence preservation proceedings, as well as tracking activities had been hampered by staffing constraints, he reported. Thus, the Ndahimana trial had finally been set to begin this September instead of June as earlier planned.
The Nizeyimana trial was now likely to commence only in the last quarter of 2010 due to challenges of constituting an adequate team to prepare and prosecute that case. Also, the current budgetary provisions did not provide adequately for the additional workload for 2010. “We have tried as much as possible to continue some of our activities within existing resources, by, for instance, multitasking staff members. We remain firmly committed to the effective implementation of the Completion Strategy”, Mr. Jallow stated.
Continuing, he said the tracking, arrest and transfer of Félicien Kabuga and other fugitives would continue to be a top priority for his Office, and his Tracking Team continued to deploy all its efforts to that end. He said he counted on the Council to continue its call on all States to cooperate fully with the Tribunal’s effort to apprehend and bring those fugitives to justice. He regretted, however, that there had been no further progress in the matter of cooperation by Kenya in relation to the case of Kabuga, saying: “The Government of Kenya has so far not provided my Office any information despite numerous requests for details of Kabuga’s alleged departure from that country.” In view of Kenya’s continued non-compliance with the ICTR requests, he had requested the President of the Tribunal to notify the Security Council of Kenya’s failure to cooperate.
Mr. Jallow also noted that the number of requests for mutual legal assistance from national prosecution authorities continued to grow. In the current reporting period, the Prosecutor’s Office had already supported 40 requests from 10 Member States for assistance with evidence, a significant increase over 2009. A significant part of the Office’s international cooperation practice had also involved extensive work to declassify key exhibits and vary witness protection measures. Consent for disclosure in that regard, had been secured from some 89 prosecution witnesses and filed five motions for the variation of witness protection measures, he added.
Noting that the continued cooperation of Member States and the support of the Security Council and the other organs, as well as the Secretariat of the United Nations, had been and would continue to be indispensable for the success of the Completion Strategy, he said in the months ahead, his Office proposed to begin trials of the two remaining cases, file new requests for the referral of the cases of 8 of the remaining 11 fugitives to Rwanda for trial, to intensify its tracking efforts and to prepare for the commencement of evidence preservation hearings in respect of three fugitives.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria), speaking as Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, said that since 3 December 2009, the Working Group had held 15 meetings; the latest of which was held yesterday with the Presidents and Prosecutors of both courts. In the last six months, the Working Group had made good progress in discussions on a draft resolution to establish an international residual mechanism for criminal tribunals, and at the end of last year, had agreed to request the Office of Legal Affairs to prepare a draft statute of that mechanism based on the Tribunal’s statutes and two other reports on declassification of documents and review of witness protection orders.
On 5 February, the Chair presented the first revised draft text, with the second revised draft resolution and draft statute introduced on 26 May, he continued. A third reading of the drafts, begun on 15 June, was expected to last until mid-July. In addition, the Working Group considered requests by the Tribunal’s Presidents for extension of judges’ mandates, he said, which preceded the Council’s adoption of resolutions 1900 and 1901 (2009), and 1915 (2010) on those matters.
Speaking in his national capacity, he went on to reiterate strong support for the rule of law and international criminal justice. He noted with concern that there had been yet another slippage of the trials and appeals schedules and urged the Tribunals to take all possible measures to complete their work. The arrest of the 13 remaining fugitives was a key priority for completion, and he called on States concerned to fully cooperate with the Tribunals.
Regarding the former Yugoslav Tribunal, while there were two outstanding arrests, he welcomed Serbia’s seizure of Mr. Mladić’s wartime notebooks, as well as Croatia’s clear commitment to intensify the work of the Task Force. On the Rwandan Tribunal, Austria had noted Kenya’s failure to comply with its obligation to cooperate in locating and arresting Mr. Kabuga and strongly urged that country to render all necessary assistance.
BROOKE D. ANDERSON ( United States) said her Government was deeply committed to bringing to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Tribunals had indicted more than 250 people; about 70 were still on trial or had appeals pending. The former Yugoslav Tribunal’s judgement on seven high-ranking Serbian officials reaffirmed that the murder committed at Srebrenica indeed had been genocide, an important verdict, as the international community would soon gather there to commemorate the 1995 events. Noting that completion timelines had slipped, she urged that all possible steps be taken to move the process forward and to complete core mandates.
A practical approach should be pursued and should involve extending judges’ terms of office. Retaining experienced staff was a growing concern and she encouraged tribunals and relevant United Nations coordinating offices to develop cost-effective solutions. At-large indicted individuals must be apprehended and brought to justice and States must fulfil their obligations in that regard. Félicien Kabuga must be apprehended, and since Kenya had not responded to the Prosecutor’s requests for access to files or for meetings on that matter, she urged that country to immediately respond and undertake good faith efforts to seize assets. Regional cooperation was needed to apprehend two others, including Augustin Bizimana, the former Minister of Defence.
The United States commended State efforts to cooperate with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, adding that the most critical duty was the arrest of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić and urging States to support the Prosecutor’s requests related to ongoing trials. She commended Serbia’s seizure of notebooks and audiotapes, urging it to help locate and transfer fugitives to the Tribunal. She also commended Croatia’s commitment to locate artillery documents from “Operation Storm”. Bosnia and Herzegovina must take a more practical approach to implementing the war crimes strategy. In closing, she urged working together on the critical need to establish a residual tribunal. Her Government’s reason for urging the Tribunals’ completion was clear: “we owe it to the victims”, she said.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) attached great importance to the delivery of justice and the fight against impunity, noting that his country had cooperated closely with both Tribunals, as well as the International Criminal Court. He commended the Tribunals on their work towards fulfilling their respective completion plans and welcomed the strategy for that purpose, including the holding of 10 simultaneous cases, as long as they were at the relevant stages.
He expressed concern, however, over problems in the retention of staff and advocated measures to remediate the situation, supporting the request to extend judges’ mandates to 2014 to account for appeals and for the recognition of the rights of staff to more permanent contracts. He also supported the appointment of currently serving ad hoc judges as permanent judges, or amending their mandates to otherwise change their status. He said that ad hoc judges should also receive equitable compensation. The matter should be addressed with priority in the General Assembly. He furthermore supported awareness-raising activities of the Tribunals, and welcomed efforts by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to assist national judiciaries of the region to prosecute serious crimes.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI ( Gabon) welcomed progress in implementing the completion strategies of the two Tribunals within international norms of justice, and he supported the creation of a residual mechanism, which would be important for the objective of peace and national reconciliation. He called for an early completion of a draft statute for the effective creation of such a mechanism.
In the face of mounting delays at the courts, he called for the extension of judges and measures to make it easier to retain staff. He also underlined the importance of the arrest and trial of the 13 outstanding fugitives and he encouraged the Congolese Government and other Governments of that region and the region of the former Yugoslavia to cooperate fully in that regard. He also called for building national capacity in both regions to be able to try major crimes, and for the Tribunals to raise awareness of international criminal and humanitarian law.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) recalled that the regional intent had been to complete proceedings by 2010, but as the Tribunal officials had just outlined, that expectation had proven unrealistic. Japan attached great importance to the rule of law and, while he appreciated the Tribunals’ efforts to speed proceedings, he strongly urged them to complete their work ahead of projections. In that context, he urged taking into account the need for staff retention, and Japan would work with others to respond to those requests. The Tribunals would not fulfil their responsibilities until fugitives had been brought to trial and Japan strongly urged the States concerned to cooperate fully and take action to arrest them.
Turning to the former Yugoslav Tribunal, he said cooperation was essential in accessing documents, archives and witnesses, and Japan noted Croatia’s efforts to locate missing documents. His Government trusted that States would continue to cooperate with the Tribunal. Both Tribunals faced challenges, and the need for a residual mechanism had not been fully explored at the time of their establishment. Impunity must not be condoned. At the same time, all efforts must be made to be cost effective. Japan appreciated that both Tribunals had included measures to facilitate their transition and would participate actively in the draft resolution on the creation of the residual mechanism.
PHILIP PARHAM, (United Kingdom), welcoming efforts to implement completion strategies, also voiced concern at further delays, which, in some cases, had been projected to last 12 months. While acknowledging that unforeseen events could throw trials off track, the Tribunals must do all possible to minimize delays. In that context, he welcomed the reconvening of the former Yugoslav Tribunal Working Group to speed trials. He had noted the concerns of both Tribunals about the impacts of staffing issues on completion strategies and recognized that losing staff could impact trial completion. The Tribunals should be adequately staffed and as resources were not a Council matter, he encouraged the Secretariat to look upon such requests favourably. The Council should help them by granting extensions to judicial mandates.
Continuing, he said the completion of the Tribunals’ work depended on State cooperation, notably in finding documents and tracking fugitives. He welcomed Serbia’s cooperation, calling the discovery of Mr. Mladić’s diaries an important development. He urged keeping up momentum in the search for the two remaining fugitives. The United Kingdom also had been encouraged by Croatia’s cooperation and urged that country to find missing documents related to Operation Storm. He regretted that there had been no progress in the search for Félicien Kabuga and repeated the call to Kenya to supply all information related to that matter. The Council must take measures to ensure that a residual mechanism was in place and he expressed hope that the Council would be ready to adopt a resolution by year-end.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey), strongly supporting the work of the Tribunals, asked the courts’ officials to continue their efforts to expedite their proceedings, without compromising due process, while all necessary steps must be taken to enable them to complete their mandates without further delays. He noted measures being considered in that regard. He added that establishment of the residual mechanism was vital for the legacy of the Tribunals and that his delegation was proud to be a part of that important process.
He expressed his concern, however, that the number of fugitives remained unchanged since the last biannual reports of the Tribunals, calling on all States in the region to intensify the effort to ensure that the remaining 13 fugitives, including Ratko Mladić, Goran Hadžić and Félicien Kabuga, were apprehended and brought to justice without further delay. Effective cooperation by States in other areas such as access to archives, documents and witnesses was also crucial to the Completion Strategy. In that light, he took note of Croatia’s “continued and serious efforts” in regard to missing documents, and took positive note as well of cooperative actions taken by Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, encouraging them to continue on that path.
NORBERTO MORETTI (Brazil) said, despite all the challenges and obstacles that the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Tribunal for Rwanda had faced in their ordinary activities, it should not be forgotten that both courts had made significant progress in carrying out their responsibilities and fulfilling their respective completion strategies. To that end, their efforts needed the support of all Member States so as to enable them reach a prompt conclusion of outstanding judicial activities.
With regard to staff retention, he agreed with the assessment of the Presidents and Prosecutors on the need for measures to be put in place as soon as possible to ensure that the most highly qualified staff continued to work for the tribunals. Another important element was the cooperation of Member States and Tribunals. Also, as the implementation of the completion strategies moved forward, outreach and capacity-building activities became even more important. He said the affected communities needed to be informed of the evolving process and how that was going to impact the administration of justice.
Concerning other residual issues, he stressed the need for the continued commitment by the Tribunals to the recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report on administrative and budgetary aspects and the residual mechanism. That was particularly important in the consideration of possible ways to review witness protection orders, the preparation of digital records and the development and adoption of strategies for appropriate declassification of records and archives, he noted.
BULUS PAUL ZOM LOLO ( Nigeria), while noting with satisfaction that both Tribunals were complying with due process standards, he said that, despite such achievements, they faced challenges of staff constraints, the parallel assignment of judges to numerous trials and contract matters. Urging the Tribunals to better manage delays to minimize their impact, he also pressed the Council to be flexible and pragmatic in response, notably on staff retention and budgetary issues. He agreed that cooperation was indispensable for the success of completion strategies and expressed concern that fugitives remained at large.
He went on to stress that States must cooperate to ensure fugitives were brought to justice. Cooperation would be enhanced through the training of judicial prosecutors, information sharing with the Tribunals and joint projects between and among States. Such activities would serve the cause of justice and advance the fight against impunity. States were also encouraged to take advantage of the Prosecutors’ resources in the prosecution of suspects not before the Tribunals. More outreach activities were needed, as was the establishment of information centres and archives.
IBRAHIM ASSAF ( Lebanon), noting progress in the trial chambers, expressed his Government’s understanding of the challenges that had prevented the completion of tasks. He urged the Council to support all necessary measures to allow the Tribunals to complete their work without compromising due process. Transferring cases to national courts would lighten the Tribunals’ burden and speed their completion strategies.
He called on States of the former Yugoslavia, as well as on Rwanda’s neighbours to cooperate with the Tribunals, saying that Lebanon also valued the efforts of the Informal Working Group and hoped a residual mechanism would be adopted. The Tribunals’ creation had constituted a “qualitative leap” that confronted impunity. Their success in accomplishing their tasks would provide a foundation for accountability and bolster the rule of law at national and international levels. It would also foster national reconciliation and alleviate suffering. For its part, Lebanon would continue to support all efforts in pursuit of international justice.
BÉATRICE LE FRAPER DU HELLEN (France) said that the Council should provide the Tribunals with all means possible to allow those bodies to complete their work within international standards and with as much efficiency as possible. The transfer of fugitives to the Tribunals was a particular priority. She called on all States to cooperate fully to that end. She reiterated the request to Kenya, in particular, to make all efforts to apprehend Kabuga. Regarding the Yugoslav Tribunal, she urged the arrest of Hadžić and Mladić, and urged Serbia to fulfil all requests of the Prosecutor, expecting that Croatia would also meet the Tribunal’s needs in that regard.
She underlined the importance of the informal Working Group on the Tribunals, pledging to work closely with it, and called for greater support to it. She also agreed with the importance of a residual mechanism and advocated that the existing structures in The Hague and Arusha should be utilized as much as possible for that purpose, while cooperation with other institutions would be welcome.
IVAN BARBALIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that it was of ever-increasing importance to preserve the legacy of the Tribunals in the cause of justice and the combat against impunity, to encourage the efficient completion of their work and to assure a timely transition to an adequate and credible residual mechanism. Strongly supporting their work, he stressed the necessity of recognizing that some factors out of the Tribunal’s control, including heavy schedules had, to a certain extent, contributed to delays. Guaranteeing fair trials in each case undoubtedly remained the priority. The Council, therefore, remained under an obligation to provide its further support for the Tribunals’ uninterrupted work, and the extension of the judges’ mandates must be addressed.
He called it regrettable, in addition, that the number of those accused by the two Tribunals yet still remaining at large remained constant. The arrest and prosecution of those individuals, including Mladić and Hadžić remained a priority in the completion of their work. The cooperation of the countries of the region and further support of the international community in that regard, remained necessary, he said, noting the effective responses of the authorities of his country to all requests of the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as agreements made with neighbouring countries. In conclusion, he said that the horrific crimes committed needed to be punished, individuals responsible needed to be named and justice finally served.
GUO XIAOMEI ( China) noted that neither Tribunal would complete its work this year and, while the delays had been due to many factors, the respective completion strategies must be followed in earnest by all parties and their implementation sped. Based on the rescheduling of trials, the Rwandan Tribunal would have completed pretrials of all current cases by end 2011, while the former Yugoslav Tribunal would have completed them by 2012.
In that context, she stressed that the handing over of cases and fugitives to countries willing to handle them was important, and appealed to those concerned to provide full cooperation in that regard. Regarding the Informal Working Group, which had started a third reading of the drafts, she said China looked forward to an early result of their consultations.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the Tribunals’ reports were important because resolutions 1900 (2009) and 1901 (2009) had affirmed that the Council would extend the terms of office. The Council had confirmed timelines for their functioning and should be moving towards a countdown of completion of work. Instead, the situation was “dismal” and the reports contained completely different timelines.
He asked: What had happened in the last six months to create such a scenario? One case was being drawn out for another 20 months -- another for 14 months, and still another for 12 months. Many accused had been in custody for six to seven years. Was that in line with the standards for civilized justice? He requested that more realistic projections be carried out in practice and that the Tribunals carry out the work of current trials.
At the same time, he said State cooperation was essential and, in that context, noted positive assessments by Serbian authorities. It was regrettable that others, notably in Africa, had not strengthened their cooperation or responded to requests for assistance. As for the future residual mechanisms, he said the Council’s decision on that issue would set a precedent. Until now, the history of international justice had not seen work completed for such a Tribunal. Parameters had been defined, including a clearly defined jurisdiction, operating on the basis of a mandate for a foreseeable time frame. Fulfilling those conditions would enable the creation of an effective structure.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) acknowledged the efforts of both Tribunals to complete their work in a timely and responsible fashion in light of unforeseeable delays, and called on them to conclude their work as quickly as possible in that light. He noted serious challenges to completion within the existing schedules and urged that that both Tribunals be afforded the assistance and resources they needed. He called on all States to comply with requests of the Tribunals, and he encouraged Croatia, in particular, to continue its cooperation. He said that the Council must use a flexible and pragmatic approach in regard to the completion strategies, allowing the Tribunals to strive to finish their work as quickly as possible but not within set schedules. The priority was that justice for the gravest crimes against humanity be carried out.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) welcomed the progress achieved thus far in completion of the Tribunal’s work, but said that their early closure should not come at the expense of justice. For that purpose, it was crucial that the remaining fugitives be arrested and, in that light, he reaffirmed his Government’s full cooperation with the Yugoslav Tribunal, noting the close relationships between appropriate officials and that court and its Prosecutors.
He expressed appreciation for the acknowledgement of his country’s efforts on finding, clarifying or accounting for missing documents. Criminal proceedings had been pressed against those alleged to have obstructed that effort, and the task force on the matter would continue to do its utmost. For the purpose of national prosecution of further grave crimes committed in his country since 1991, he said his country had worked closely with the former Yugoslav Tribunal and engaged in regional cooperation. He underlined, finally, the importance of creating an effective residual mechanism.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ ( Serbia) said cooperation between his country and the former Yugoslavia Tribunal noted in the report was in line with Serbia’s own assessment. Serbia continued to fulfil its legal and moral obligations and had sustained the level of cooperation achieved in 2009, in accordance with the Prosecutor’s recommendations. With no outstanding requests for assistance vis-à-vis the provision of documents, witness protection and access to State archives, among other things, cooperation with the Tribunal remained high.
He went on to say that efforts to track down and apprehend fugitives showed the political will for the successful completion of Serbia’s duties in that regard, and recommendations in the present report were being implemented. Improved search methods would hopefully lead to the results that both Serbia and the Tribunal wished to see. The search was being conducted daily and would not cease until both fugitives had been brought to justice. Reiterating Serbia’s continued support to the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy, including issues related to the potential residual mechanism and location of archives, he stressed that his Government’s interest in that subject remained high.
EUGENE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) said that his Government remained steadfast in its commitment to support the Completion Strategy of the International Tribunal prosecuting war crimes in his country, noting its extensive cooperation in that regard, and its creation of detention facilities that met international standards. He maintained, therefore, that “no pretext should remain” to preventing the transfer of cases to Rwanda, which would show Rwandans that justice was indeed being served. In that light, he welcomed the Prosecution’s efforts to continue to enable referrals to national jurisdictions for the trials of 8 of the remaining 11 fugitives.
He also welcomed the efforts of the Tribunal in outreach and capacity-building in Rwanda and encouraged their continuation, and he reiterated the view that the court’s archives should be transferred to his country upon completion of its mandate, as those records constituted an integral part of its history and were vital to the preservation of the memory of the genocide and the prevention of such horrors in the future. He agreed that the completion of the Tribunal’s mandate, in addition, required that all efforts continued to ensure the arrest of the remaining fugitives.
Finally, he expressed deep concern over what he called the increasing tendency “to misrepresent, misinterpret and openly deny the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsis” that he said was being undertaken by a “cohort of the members of the legal profession, academia and others associated with the perpetration of that most heinous of crimes”. Such revisionism, he maintained, was morally reprehensible and threatened peace in Rwanda. The country would continue to ensure that any individual, without prejudice, who engaged in such revisionism or denial of the genocide, would be brought to justice in accordance with constitutional obligations.
FRANCIS KIMEMIA, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Security and Provincial Administration of Kenya, took strong exception to what he called “baseless and persistent imputations” that the Rwandese fugitive Félicien Kabuga was hiding in his country and that Kenya’s Government had refused to fully discharge its obligation towards that fugitive’s arrest. No evidence had ever been produced to that effect, and Kenya had nothing to gain by harbouring him, particularly it a time when Kenya and Rwanda enjoyed excellent relations.
Much work had been carried out, he said, by the Government of Kenya in collaboration with relevant investigation agencies, including those of the Rwanda Tribunal, Rwanda itself, and the United States. The findings of their investigations had regularly been communicated to the Tribunal, and he called it disappointing to note that the Prosecutor had not updated his report accordingly.
He reiterated that Kenya had given full support and assistance to the Tribunal since its inception, including arresting and handing over 14 suspects; facilitating the movement of witnesses; and forming a Joint Investigation Team to apprehend Félicien Kabuga. He urged the Rwanda Tribunal and investigation agencies to widen the search for him to other jurisdictions, and pledged unwavering commitment to fully cooperate with the Tribunal and the Council in support of international criminal justice.
In response to the Kenyan delegate’s comments on Mr. Kabuga, Mr. JALLOW, Chief Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, said his Office had on numerous occasions commended Kenya for arresting and transferring 14 fugitives. Mr. Kabuga was among those to have been arrested and transferred, but he had subsequently escaped.
At a meeting last year with Kenya’s Minister of the Interior, also attended by a representative of the Secretary-General, it had been stated that Mr. Kabuga had left the country, he explained, which confirmed that he indeed had been there. Kenyan authorities should grant access to information on Mr. Kabuga to investigators and Kenyan police who were part of joint Task Force. That also had been agreed at that meeting.
Since that time, he had sent requests for that information, he explained, but it had not been provided. There had been no response. A March request for a meeting with the Kenyan Attorney General, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs also had been sent in the form of a note verbale. That request was followed by reminders, none of which had been followed up on.
Nonetheless, Kenya’s comments that it was open to discussion and that representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office were welcome in Nairobi was appreciated, and he would like to see that invitation become a reality. “We accept the invitation”, he said, asking that it be made definite. There was clear evidence that Mr. Kabuga had been in Kenya for a considerably long time. The Kenyan delegate’s comments that Mr. Kabuga had left the country acknowledged that fact. It was also a fact that, at his Office’s request, the Kenyan Attorney General seized the property register of Mr. Kabuga. “We now need to move forward on the provision of information” of that crime, he said. He looked forward to discussing matters further.
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