Arrests of Long-Sought Fugitives Commended in Security Council, but Challenges to Completing Work in War Crimes Tribunals Dominate Briefings by Officials
Arrests of Long-Sought Fugitives Commended in Security Council, but Challenges to Completing Work in War Crimes Tribunals Dominate Briefings by Officials
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6545th Meeting (AM)
Arrests of Long-Sought Fugitives Commended in Security Council, but Challenges
to Completing Work in War Crimes Tribunals Dominate Briefings by Officials
Top officials from the United Nations war crimes Tribunals investigating atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Balkan wars of the 1990s today hailed the recent arrests of high-profile fugitives, but warned the Security Council that the work — and legacies — of their courts was imperilled by persistent staffing woes, challenges in enforcing sentences, and the failure to set up a trust fund for the victims.
Recounting Ratko Mladic’s 31 May arrest and subsequent transfer to The Hague after 16 years on the run, Judge Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that with Mladic’s trial, “the Tribunal will be removing yet another brick in the wall of impunity”. The capture of the notorious wartime Bosnian Serb leader — long sought for his alleged role in the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica — was a milestone in the Tribunal’s history and brought it closer to successful completion of its mandate, said Judge Patrick Robinson.
Yet, while that Tribunal had spearheaded the global fight against impunity, in both substantive and procedural areas, it faced “unprecedented challenges” as it sought to wrap up its work, chiefly the need to retain its highly qualified staff. Appealing for the Security Council’s urgent and sustained support in the matter, the Judge said: “The staffing problem is so bad, that it can now be described as chronic, systemic and endemic; we are in a staffing crisis: c-r-i-s-i-s”. Describing that stark reality, he said that during a five-week period in April and May, eight members of the Trial Chamber’s staff alone had tendered their resignations. In the space of three days, three staff had done so.
He recognized the Council did not deal directly with staffing issues, but the 15-nation body was composed of influential members, and he implored them to use that influence to garner support in the General Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) for a limited payment to staff members with more than five years of continuous service who remained in their posts until those were abolished, for the Office of Human Resources Management to reverse its position and approve the recommended list of staff members to be converted to permanent contracts, and to allow the Tribunal to retain its well-qualified interns in circumstances where they had become integral members of the court’s staff.
Other matters requiring the Council’s urgent attention included the establishment of a victims’ trust fund and support for the enforcement of the Tribunal’s sentences. As the Tribunal neared the end of its mandate, the court still required the Council’s support in the areas he had outlined. The Tribunal’s staff had kept faith with the vision of the Security Council. “And now we need the Council to reciprocate that faith and to give us the support that we desperately need to complete the work the Security Council has started,” he concluded.
Updating the Council on the work of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, the court’s President, Khalida Rachid Khan, said the trial decision in the case of Jean-Bosco Uwikindi should be rendered at the end of the month, and the inevitable appeal was projected to be finished in October. Bernard Munyagishari, a former Interahamwe militia leader had been arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo about two weeks ago, which would not lead to trial activity if the referral application to Rwanda was accepted. However, if no national courts accepted the cases, both the Uwikindi and Munyagishari cases would be held at the Arusha-based Tribunal, with the target of finishing them by late 2012.
However, success at meeting target dates and expediting procedures while upholding high standards could only be maintained with adequate staffing, she said. To meet the critical challenge of staff retention, she supported President Robinson’s proposal for a limited payment to staff members with more than five years of continuous service who remained until abolition of their posts. Staff on temporary contracts would need to be extended past the allowed 729-day period.
In addition, she called on the Council to find a sustainable resolution of the critical challenge of the resettlement of acquitted persons, noting that the Council would shortly receive a dossier on the matter, prepared jointly by the Tribunal and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She noted that the relocation of convicted persons who had served their sentences was also destined to become increasingly problematic.
On the Residual Mechanism authorized by the Security Council last year in its resolution 1966, she said existing staff was endeavouring under tight deadlines to make sure it was a small and efficient institution, working in close cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Thanking all concerned for their support, she concluded by saying that seeking justice for the victims of the genocide continued to drive the commitment of everyone at the Tribunal, as did the goal of ensuring that such atrocities would never again occur.
The Council was also briefed by the Chief Prosecutors of both courts, with Serge Brammertz of the tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia noting that the capture of Ratko Mladic was a welcome confirmation that accountability for war crimes was not a fleeting interest, but of enduring value, and that Serbia now had an important opportunity to help the public understand why Mr. Mladic had been arrested and why justice demanded that he stand trial. He thanked the Serbian authorities and particularly acknowledged the role played by the National Security Council, an action team established to track fugitives and operatives from the security services.
Yet, despite that “excellent result,” the fact remained that Mr. Mladic had been at large for some 16 years. “This raises troubling questions about how it was possible for this individual to elude the substantial resources of a State system for so many years,” he said. At the same time, he welcomed the Serbian Government’s announcement that it planned to investigate and prosecute the networks that had supported the former fugitive during his time on the run. The Serbian Government should continue the operational improvements that had led to that arrest, he said, stressing, “We want the remaining fugitive — Goran Hadžić — apprehended without further delay”.
Serbia’s representative assured the Council that the arrest of the remaining fugitive, Goran Hadžić, was a priority. Serbian authorities had meanwhile arrested and transferred to the Tribunal 45 out of 46 persons believed to be in the country, he said, noting that all requested documents had been delivered and access to witnesses and State archives granted. Serbia would continue its cooperation with the Tribunal, as well as its proactive approach to the regional stabilization process. It was strongly interested in implementation of the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy.
Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal, said that for timely completion of that court’s mandate, he looked forward to the positive consideration, by a number of European States, of requests he made to them to accept cases for trial from the Tribunal. The referral of cases to national, Rwandan, jurisdiction remained crucial, and he was also hopeful that two cases referred to France (Laurent Bucyibaruta and Wenceslas Munyeshaka) would receive greater attention in French courts in the course of this year.
He thanked the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its cooperation in the recent arrest of Bernard Munyagishari, and looked forward to his earliest transfer to the Tribunal. He was confident that the continued cooperation of the country would facilitate the soonest possible arrest of the nine remaining fugitives, the majority of whom were in that territory. He welcomed also the reactivation of the joint task force with the Kenyan police on the Felicien Kabuga file and looked forward to the assistance of the Kenyan Government in the tracking and arrest of that top-level figure.
Among the concerned States to take the floor, the representative of Rwanda said his Government had consistently supported the Rwandan Tribunal, facilitating access to witnesses for both the defence and prosecution, and assisting in the movement of witnesses to and from the Tribunal. Rwanda would support the work of the Residual Mechanism and expected that body to honour its legal obligations, especially in notifying his Government before transferring convicts.
Explaining that it would be inappropriate to entertain “costly and unjustified” requests to extend the operation of a residual court beyond 30 June 2016, he urged the Council to obtain an official report on the status of prosecutions of the two cases transferred to France for trial in 2007. The Tribunal had the duty to revoke those referrals if they continued to delay prosecution of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta. The ad hoc tribunals were a “transitional justice work in progress” and that transition must end at some point. Rwanda was willing to assist the Council in finding solutions to the difficult residual functions that were not yet resolved.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Germany, Portugal, China, United Kingdom, Colombia, South Africa, United States, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Gabon and Croatia.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 1:20 p.m.
The Council had before it a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council (document S/2011/316), conveying an Assessment and report of Judge Patrick Robinson, President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, covering the period from 15 November 2010 to 15 May 2011.
Judge Robinson states that during the reporting period, the Tribunal faced unprecedented challenges, but also achieved unprecedented advancement in the implementation of its Completion Strategy. At the close of the period, 17 persons were in appeal proceedings, 14 persons were on trial and three were at the pretrial stage. As at the close of the reporting period, two accused — Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić — remained at large. As at the date of the report, the Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 125 of the 161 persons it indicted.
(On 26 May, Mladic was captured in Serbia after eluding arrest for more than 15 years. Announcement of the arrest was made by Serbian President Boris Tadic. On 31 May, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia . His trial began on 3 June).
The Tribunal conducted proceedings in nine trials concurrently by doubling-up Judges and staff so that they were working on more than one case at a time. The Đorđević trial and the Gotovina et al. trial were brought to a close, while the Perišić trial is anticipated to be completed this year. Six trials are anticipated to conclude in 2012, and the Karadžić trial should be completed in 2014.
During the period, the assessment states, one judgement on review was issued. Appeals from four trial judgements are currently pending before the Appeals Chamber. The Judges of the Appeals Chamber also remained fully engaged in appeals from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, rendering two judgements and hearing three cases.
The Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, according to the assessment, continues to take all measures possible to expedite its trials, without sacrificing due process. The report details a variety of reforms made to improve its work, including the use of e-Court and e-Filing, amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and case management techniques.
However, it says, the pace of the Tribunal’s trials and appeals remain affected by staffing shortages and the loss of highly experienced staff members. Despite resolutions by the General Assembly and the Security Council on the issue of staff retention, this problem persists; without practical and effective staff retention measures, the Security Council should expect the estimates for the completion of the Tribunal’s core work to continue to have to be revised in subsequent reports.
The Tribunal, according to the report, has transferred all low- and mid-level accused from its trial docket in accordance with Security Council resolution 1503 (2003). The Prosecutor, with the assistance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), continued to monitor the progress of referred proceedings still ongoing in the region.
According to The Report of Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, conveyed by the same letter, Serbia’s search for Mladić and Hadžić) was a major focus of attention for the Office of the Prosecutor in the reporting period, and his office had remained deeply concerned about Serbia’s continuing failure to locate and arrest the two remaining fugitives. Also dominating the period had been completion of a significant amount of the trial work of the Office of the Prosecutor and the increasing reorientation of the caseload of the Office towards the appeal phase of proceedings.
Only one trial was in the pretrial phase (the Haradinaj et al. re-trial). In two trials, the Prosecution is presenting its case-in-chief (Karadžić and Tolimir), and in the remaining three cases, the trials are in the defence phase (Šešelj, (Jovica) Stanišić and Simatović and (Mićo) Stanišić and Župljanin). Two trials have concluded and are awaiting judgement (Prlić et al. and Perišić). Five cases are either on appeal or in the notice of appeal phase (Šainović et al., [ Milan] Lukić and [Sredoje] Lukić, Popović et al., Đorđević and Gotovina).
The Office of the Prosecutor also continues to facilitate national war crimes prosecutions, according to the report, with capacity-building in the region of the former Yugoslavia an important aspect of the Tribunal’s legacy. The Office is also fully supporting the preparations for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals that will take over from the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in accordance with Security Council resolution 1966 (2010).
Taking the floor first, Judge PATRICK ROBINSON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said at the close of the reporting period, 16 persons were in appeal proceedings, 14 persons were on trial and four were at the pre-trial stage. One accused – Goran Hadzic — remained at large. To date, the Tribunal had concluded proceedings against 126 of the 161 persons indicted by the Prosecutor. On 26 May, Ratko Mladic had been arrested in Serbia, having evaded justice for 16 years. Mladic had been indicted in 1995 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, allegedly from 1992 to 1995, during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“On 31 May, Ratko Mladic was transferred to The Hague, where he will face trial,” he said, adding that Mladic’s arrest was a milestone in the Tribunal’s history and brought the body close to successful completion of its mandate. Goran Hadzic remained the sole fugitive. The Tribunal, with the corpus of its work, had spearheaded the global fight against impunity, in both substantive and procedural areas. “With the trial of Mladic, the Tribunal will be removing yet another brick in the wall of impunity,” he declared. Questions had been asked about the impact of the arrest on the court’s completion strategy; that there would be an impact was clear, but the precise nature of what that would be remained to be seen.
He went to say that during the reporting period, the Tribunal faced “unprecedented challenges”, but had also achieved unprecedented advancement in the implementation of its Completion Strategy. The court had conducted proceedings in nine trials concurrently by doubling up judges and staff so that they were working on more than one case at a time. Six trials were anticipated to conclude in 2012, and the Karadzic case should be completed by 2014. Following criticism by the Council last year on the trials’ progress, he had written to the judges and had convened a plenary session to discuss the matter, stressing the need for every measure to be taken to expedite the work to avoid slippage in schedule.
Following his review of the status of the Tribunal’s cases and efforts under way to carry out its work, including measures taken to expedite trials and staff the Appeals Chamber, he drew attention to several areas that needed the support of the court’s parent body, the Security Council. Such support, for example, was desperately needed in the retention of highly qualified staff. “The most serious challenge to the completion of the work of the Tribunal is the continual departure of our uniquely experienced staff for more secure employment elsewhere,” he said, adding frankly: “The staffing problem is so bad, that it can now be described as chronic systemic and endemic; we are in a staffing crisis: c-r-i-s-i-s.”
Describing that stark reality, he said that during a five-week period in April and May, eight members of the Chamber’s staff alone had tendered their resignations. In the space of three days, three staff had done so. Those left behind had seen their colleagues leave for secure employment in other United Nations organs and institutions. To make matters worse, those remaining also had been forced to pick up extra work and simultaneously train the replacements for their departed colleagues. The staffing crisis had forced him to become personally involved in the matter on a weekly basis. “As a result I have obtained an immense knowledge that might equip me someday for a career in human resources,” he said.
Despite the Security Council’s response to his previous pleas for assistance with the adoption last year of resolutions 1931 and 1954, he said that nothing meaningful had been achieved. He recognized that the Council did not deal directly with staffing issues, but the 15-nation body was composed of influential members, who also held membership in the General Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
With that in mind, he implored the Member States of the Council to use their influence in order to support his three-point strategy to address the problem: a limited payment to staff members with more than five years of continuous service who remained in their posts until those were abolished; endorsing the Tribunal’s stand that the Office of Human Resources Management should reverse its position and approve the Tribunal’s recommended list of staff members who should be converted to permanent contracts; and allowing the Tribunal to raise its cadre of well-qualified interns in circumstances where they had become integral members of the court’s staff.
He said that he had raised the details of those matters, including that it had been almost a year since the registrar had submitted a list of personnel to be converted to permanent contracts, with no word from the Office of Human Resources. “The Security Council, the Tribunal’s parent body, must heed the call for action. We need your influence and support if we are to complete the work that is before us,” he said, adding bluntly that if that was not done, the Tribunal would forever be reporting slippages in its work schedule. The schedule would have to be revised, “and international justice will be compromised”.
Other matters requiring the Council’s urgent attention included the establishment of a victims’ trust fund and support for the enforcement of the Tribunal’s sentences. On the trust fund, he said that more than 6,900 witnesses and accompanying persons from all over the world had been called to appear before the Tribunal. Without their courage to step forward and give evidence, “there would be no trials and impunity would reign”. While the Tribunal awaited action at higher levels, it had been taking action on its own to establish some system for providing assistance to victims, which imposed no obligations on States to provide funding, but rather, to contemplate voluntary contributions.
On the enforcement of sentences, he said that while the Tribunal was grateful for the enforcement agreements it had signed with 17 States, some of those States had become hesitant to enforce further sentences and had called for equal burden sharing among Member States. Considering that up to 40 additional sentences might need to be enforced over the next few years, it had become evident that the Tribunal’s enforcement capacity was rapidly approaching its limit. As the Tribunal neared the end of its mandate, the court still required the Council’s support in the areas he had outlined. The Tribunal’s staff had kept faith with the vision of the Security Council. “And now we need the Council to reciprocate that faith and to give us the support that we desperately need to complete the work the Security Council has started.”
KHALIDA RACHID KHAN, President of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, said that the Tribunal had completed 88 per cent of its case work at the trial level, and, by the end of 2011, less than 4 per cent of the total work would be left. She estimated that the work would be completed by the time the Residual Mechanism began in July 2012.
She said that in the second half of the year, the Tribunal would render judgements in five more cases with respect to 14 accused persons. For two cases, where fair trial considerations required more time, judgement would be delivered in the first quarter of 2012. The Military II Judgment involving four accused persons had been delivered on 17 May, and the Butare Judgement, involving six accused, would be delivered on 24 June. Therefore, almost all of the current caseload would be completed by the end of the year.
Under review, she noted, were several referral applications to Rwandan jurisdiction. The trial decision in the case of Jean-Bosco Uwikindi was due to be rendered at the end of the month and the inevitable appeal was projected to be finished in October. Bernard Munyagishari was arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo about two weeks ago, which would not lead to trial activity if the referral application to Rwanda was accepted. However, if no national courts accepted the cases, both the Uwikindi and Munyagishari cases would be held at the Tribunal, with the target of finishing them by late 2012.
She reported that hearings had also begun for preservation of evidence in the case of fugitive Felicien Kabuga, and two others would begin in the fall. She anticipated at least three proceedings for contempt of court, beginning early next year, and a further five appeal judgements to be delivered in the second half of 2011, with a total of 11 expected by the end of 2014.
Only expected judgement dates were being provided because of fair trial considerations, she said. However success at meeting target dates continued to improve, owing to methods of expediting procedures while upholding the highest standards. Those advancements could only be maintained with adequate staffing. To meet the critical challenge of staff retention, she supported President Robinson’s proposal for a limited payment to staff members with more than five years of continuous service who remained until abolition of their posts. Staff on temporary contracts would need to be extended past the allowed 729-day period.
Under the present rules, once all the permanent judges had left, critical positions of President and Vice President could not be filled, she noted. Therefore, she had made a request to remove the requirement that the President be a trial judge resident in Arusha and make provision for an ad litem judge to be elected Vice President, to act as President in the absence of that post.
She thanked all States that had concluded agreements with the Tribunal to receive convicts, encouraging other Member States to consider accepting referral applications. The Tribunal also relied on cooperation from Member States for the tracking, arrest and transfer of fugitives, nine of which remained at large. She looked forward to the early conclusion of the Kenya-Tribunal Joint Task Force’s work on apprehension and transfer of Felicien Kabuga.
In addition, she called on the Security Council to find a sustainable resolution of the critical challenge of the resettlement of acquitted persons, noting that the Council would shortly receive a dossier on the matter prepared jointly by the Tribunal and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She noted that the relocation of convicted persons who had served their sentences was also destined to become increasingly problematic.
On the Residual Mechanism, she said existing staff was endeavouring under tight deadlines to make sure it was a small and efficient institution, working in close cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Thanking all concerned for their support, she concluded by saying that seeking justice for the victims of the genocide continued to drive the commitment of everyone at the Tribunal, as did the goal of ensuring that such atrocities would never again occur.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that recent developments had shown significant advances in establishing accountability for crimes committed during the wars of Yugoslavia. Foremost among those had been the 26 May arrest of Ratko Mladic, which had been significant on many levels. For the victims of the crimes allegedly committed by Mr. Mladic, the arrest was “a long overdue opportunity for redress”. For the Tribunal, it removed one of the last obstacles to holding accountable those most responsible for wartime atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. “For international criminal justice, it is a welcome confirmation that accountability for war crimes is not a fleeting interest, but an enduring value,” he said, adding that Serbia now had an important opportunity to help the public understand why Mladic had been arrested and why justice demanded that he stand trial.
He went on to thank the Serbian authorities and particularly acknowledged the role played by the National Security Council, the action team that had been established to track the fugitives and operatives from the security services. At the same time, he recalled that the Tribunal, in its written report, had been critical of Serbia’s efforts to locate fugitives and had identified several operational shortcomings the Serbian authorities should address. With Mladic’s arrest, Serbia had taken a considerable step towards achieving the objective of translating its stated commitment to apprehending fugitives into visible results and concrete action.
Yet, despite that “excellent result,” the fact remained that Mladic had been at large for some 16 years. “This raises troubling questions about how it was possible for this individual to elude the substantial resources of a State system for so many years,” he said, welcoming the Serbian Government’s announcement that it planned to investigate and prosecute the networks that had supported Mladic during his time on the run. He also welcomed Serbia’s expressed determination to expose and punish any State officials who had assisted him. “We also ask the Serbian Government to continue the operational improvements that led to Mladic’s arrest,” he said, noting that his report outlined methods for strengthening Serbia’s fugitive tracking efforts. “We want the remaining fugitive — Goran Hadzic — apprehended without further delay,” he declared.
He noted that the Serbian National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal continued to promote cooperation among different Government bodies handling requests from the Prosecutor’s Office. Similarly, for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Office had received “prompt and adequate” responses to its request for access to documents and Government archives. As for Croatia, while there had generally been timely and adequate responses to the Tribunal’s requests, limited progress had been made during the reporting period in locating missing military documents concerning “Operation Storm”.
After highlighting progress with trials and other work of the Court, he noted “steady progress” towards implementing the Security Council’s resolution establishing an International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The Prosecutor’s Office was conscious of the dates that had been set for that mechanism to begin taking over its work and had begun assisting colleagues in the Registry with necessary preparations. It had also been working together with colleagues in the Rwanda Tribunal to ensure the coordinated and efficient structure for the Mechanism’s two prosecution offices.
Finally, he echoed Judge Robinson’s strong concern for the serious challenges posed by staff departures. Indeed, attrition “is now a sharp reality”, and retaining top workers had become an ongoing problem. Another important issue was ensuring cooperation between regional prosecutors as the Tribunal neared the end of its mandate. Improvements in regional cooperation, especially to resolve such problems as parallel investigations, would depend on strong national war crimes strategies in each country. “We are deeply concerned by recent political initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina that sought to undermine the work of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the State war crimes court,” he added. He called on the Governments in the Former Yugoslavia to support the Tribunal’s work and to use its platform for promoting reconciliation in the region.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, concurring with the President of the Tribunal on the status of cases, said that the appeals workload of his office had entered an intensive phase as new judgements were delivered, with a total of 18 separate appeals being prosecuted since his last report. In addition, the groundwork for new appeals, expected in connection with three multi-accused cases, might generate up to 28 new prosecution and defence appeals to be briefed and argued during the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. Post conviction applications for review could also increase.
In the months ahead, he said, his office also planned to file additional requests for the referral of cases of four fugitives and one new arrestee to national jurisdiction for trial, to intensify tracking efforts and to prepare for the commencement of evidence preservation hearings in respect of the cases of Mpiranya and Bizimana, to conclude trial confirmations in respect of current detainees and to prepare case files where necessary for the Residual Mechanism. The office would also update case files on six other fugitives to ensure their readiness for trial, transfer or handover to the Residual Mechanism, which should considerably reduce the workload when it came into operation next year.
For timely completion of the Tribunal’s mandate, he looked forward to the positive consideration, by a number of European States, of requests he made to them to accept cases for trial from the Tribunal, while noting that the referral of cases to national, Rwandan, jurisdiction remained crucial. He was also hopeful that two cases referred to France (Laurent Bucyibaruta and Wenceslas Munyeshaka) would receive greater attention in the course of this year in French courts. He reported on fruitful discussions with the Council of Ministers of the International Conference of the Great Lakes on cooperation with the tracking of fugitives, who had been a source of insecurity and instability in the region, besides evading justice for so long.
He thanked the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its cooperation in the recent arrest of Bernard Munyagishari, a leading member of the Interhamwe. He looked forward to his earliest transfer to the Tribunal and was confident that the continued cooperation of the country would facilitate the soonest possible arrest of the nine remaining fugitives, the majority of whom were in that territory. He welcomed also the reactivation of the joint task force with the Kenyan police on the Felicien Kabuga file and looked forward to the assistance of the Kenyan Government in the tracking and arrest of that top-level figure. Difficulties experienced in the tracking of the equally important fugitive Protais Mpiranya continued. He urged further cooperation and assistance from the Government of Zimbabwe in that regard.
He reiterated that staff attrition continued to pose a difficult challenge and hoped for a quick and satisfactory resolution following discussion with relevant United Nations departments. He also noted ongoing work in cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to develop an efficient Residual Mechanism, due to become operational on 1 July 2012. Thanking all those who had supported the Rwanda Tribunal, he said that despite the challenges, his office remained committed to an efficient, effective and timely closure of the court and a smooth and timely transfer of residual functions to the Mechanism.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda) urged all Governments to cooperate in arresting Felicien Kabuga and Protais Mpiranya. Rwanda had consistently supported the Rwandan Tribunal, facilitating access to witnesses for both the defence and prosecution, and assisting in the movement of witnesses to and from the Tribunal. It had supported investigations initiated by the prosecution and defence without prejudice and provided the necessary documents for the conduct of trials. Rwanda would support the work of the Residual Mechanism and expected that body to honour its legal obligations, especially in notifying his Government before transferring convicts.
Explaining that it would be inappropriate to entertain “costly and unjustified” requests to extend the operation of a residual court beyond 30 June 2016, he urged the Council to obtain an official report on the status of prosecutions of the two cases transferred to France for trial in 2007. The Tribunal had the duty to revoke those referrals if they continued to delay prosecution of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta. Reiterating that archives of the Rwandan Tribunal should be transferred to Rwanda, he also called “morally reprehensible” the “genocide denial” campaign, noting that the Residual Mechanism statute required defence counsel to respect the laws and regulations of the countries to which they were admitted. The ad hoc tribunals were a “transitional justice work in progress” and that transition must end at some point. Rwanda was willing to assist the Council in finding solutions to the difficult residual functions that were not yet resolved.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) lauded the arrests of Mr. Mladic and Mr. Munyagishari and expressed hope that Goran Hadzic, Felicien Kabuga and eight other fugitives would also face justice soon. Bosnia and Herzegovina was committed to continuing its dedicated support to both Tribunals until they fully completed their mandates. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities had responded promptly and adequately to all requests for documents and access to Government archives. It had helped facilitate the consistent appearance of witnesses before the Tribunal and cooperated in witness protection matters, and it handled urgent requests satisfactorily. The country’s assistance had been constructive, particularly in regard to the 11 bis cases transferred by the Office of the Prosecutor to the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, all of which had been completed. Cooperation among the region’s countries also was very important. He commended both Tribunals for preparing for the timely transition to the Residual Mechanism, in accordance with resolution 1966 (2010), and he encouraged them to continue their work expeditiously and efficiently.
BÉATRICE LE FRAPER DU HELLEN (France) noted that today’s meeting came at a historic time following the arrest and transfer of Ratko Mladic, which put an end to 16 years of impunity. She welcomed the work being done in the European Union to encourage the apprehension of remaining fugitives in Europe and she expressed hope that all Governments concerned would intensify their efforts to capture all fugitives from both Tribunals. She assured the Council that France gave utmost importance to completing the cases it had accepted to try in French courts.
While thanking the representatives of relevant United Nations bodies for their accomplishments in helping the Tribunals, she said that pragmatic solutions were needed for the problem of staff retention. She stressed that a message must be sent to all those who attempted to stay in power by violence: that the fight against impunity would continue and that warrants of arrest for serious crimes had no time limits.
ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation), noting the progress made by both Tribunals, welcomed the arrest of fugitives and said that the cooperation of States in both regions deserved a positive assessment. He could not give a positive assessment of the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s adherence to its completion calendar, however, since many detainees had been awaiting trial or appeal proceedings for an unacceptable period. The arrest of Mladic was not a reason to extend the Tribunal’s work. He understood that some problems were due to staff retention issues and offered assistance in that area. The problem of the transfer of convicted prisoners must also be given serious consideration, he said.
CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) welcomed the efforts made by the Tribunals’ officials to meet the respective Council-mandated completion strategies, as well as to begin the transfer of operations to the Residual Mechanism. She hailed the impact of the Tribunals’ work on the fight against international impunity, ensuring the rule of law, and bolstering national war crimes courts. Lebanon recognized the challenges the bodies faced, particularly those regarding staff retention. She called for a speedy resolution to those matters, in line with relevant Council resolutions.
She also called for enhanced cooperation with the Tribunals by States in their respective areas of operation, as well as enhanced cooperation among the States in the Great Lakes region and in the Balkans, towards ensuring improved investigative procedures and access to witnesses. The Council must ensure that the Tribunals achieved their goals, not just to provide a resolution for the victims of crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, but to demonstrate to the entire world that there would be no impunity for those that breached international law.
MIGUEL BERGER (Germany) welcomed the arrest of Mr. Mladic and his swift transfer to The Hague. The Serbian authorities’ success in arresting him would bring Serbia closer to its European perspective and demonstrated that there would not be impunity for the perpetrators of the gravest crimes against international humanitarian law. He urged the Tribunals to take all measures to complete their respective mandates expeditiously. More resources might be needed following the arrest of Mr. Mladic. Germany was ready to find pragmatic solutions to ongoing staff retention problems in both Tribunals so that they could maintain their timetables and avoid further delays. The arrest of the remaining 10 fugitives, including Mr. Hadzic and Mr. Kabuga, remained a top priority, and he called on all States to fully cooperate with the Tribunals in that regard.
He also called on Serbia to arrest Mr. Hadzic and he welcomed the Serbian President’s commitment to continuing the search for that fugitive, saying it should remain a key priority. He welcomed the recent arrest of Bernard Munyagishari in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but he regretted that nine fugitives were still at large. He called on all States in the region to render all necessary assistance to the Rwanda Tribunal, in order to locate and arrest them. The arrest of Mr. Kabuga should be a priority, including for the Kenyan authorities.
JOSE FILIPE MORAES (Portugal) welcomed the recent arrests by both Tribunals of high-profile fugitives. Specifically, he welcomed Mladic’s arrest as a milestone in regional cooperation and cooperation between Serbia and the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Such cooperation was critical for both courts to complete their work on schedule. He encouraged all efforts by regional and local authorities to cooperate with the courts’ requests for access to documents and witnesses. All obstacles, especially in the area of human resources, must be removed, and Portugal would work within the Council and the General Assembly to facilitate that effort.
On the enforcement of sentences and the creation of a victims’ trust fund, he said that, as Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, he planned to lead discussion on those important matters. That working group would also follow up matters regarding the transfer of the Tribunals’ work to the Residual Mechanism. Much debate on the Tribunals’ work in recent years had focused on their completion strategies. While that was very important, Member States must not forget the important role the courts and their staffs had played in the global effort to end impunity for the gravest of international crimes, to prevent such crimes from taking place, and to bolster the work of national and international war crimes courts, including the International Criminal Court.
GUO XIAOME said the Residual Mechanism would begin its work shortly and urged the Tribunals to complete their ongoing cases and outstanding trials as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition to that Mechanism. At the same time, China recognized that the courts were having trouble retaining qualified staff, and the delegate called on the courts and relevant Secretariat bodies to work together to address that challenge in a timely manner. While calling for enhanced cooperation with the Tribunals, she welcomed cooperation by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, and Rwanda and Kenya with the Rwanda Tribunal. At the same time, more cooperation, particularly at national and regional levels, was necessary for the courts to complete their work in accordance with the Council-mandated completion strategies.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom), reiterating support for the Tribunals, commended the Serbian authorities for the transfer of Mladic and asked them not to lose momentum and to apprehend the remaining fugitive. He expressed concern over delay in completion of trials and appeals. Welcoming Croatian efforts to hand over all necessary documents, he encouraged that country to complete its cooperation in that effort. Congratulating Congolese authorities on the recent arrest they made, he called for the soonest possible transfer. He also stressed the importance of bringing to justice all remaining fugitives, calling on Kenya and Zimbabwe to give the best possible cooperation. Wishing for no further delays in completing the work of both Tribunals, he supported action by the Secretariat and other bodies, within existing resources, to find solutions to the staffing problems. The Tribunals needed to be adequately staffed to complete their work.
NESTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said that both Tribunals had done laudable work in completing their mandates and their procedures towards that end must continue to be adequately supported. He hoped the Council would rise to expectations in that regard, because the legacies the Tribunals would leave would be historic in helping to establish international criminal law. He sympathized with requests of both Presidents to resolve the staffing issues. The negative consequences of not resolving those matters must be adequately conveyed by Member States to the Secretariat and other relevant areas of the Organization. President Robinson’s request for assistance and support to the victims of serious crimes also should be positively considered. Welcoming the arrest of Ratko Mladic, he expressed the importance of ending impunity for such crimes and of an orderly and credible completion of both Tribunals’ work.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) said both institutions had played an invaluable role in the global fight against impunity, and, as the Council had last year adopted resolution 1966 (2010) creating the International Residual Mechanism, it was more urgent than ever that the Tribunals completed their work in time. In that regard, South Africa continued to believe in the need to bolster national war crimes courts and urged the Tribunals to make better use of their statutes to ensure that such cases were transferred to national bodies. At the same time, the rights of the accused and international legal standards must not be compromised.
He said that South Africa would do all it could within the Council and the General Assembly to ensure that the specific challenges facing the Tribunals were addressed in a timely and adequate manner. He went to applaud authorities in Serbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the recent arrests of high profile fugitives. At the same time, he called for States within and beyond those regions to enhance their efforts to identify suitable places for the transfer of witnesses. He was pleased that the Tribunals had begun work to ensure a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism.
ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States) said the Council’s debate was taking place on a day when Ratko Mladic was in The Hague. His arrest and transfer was a milestone in international justice and she welcomed Serbia’s cooperation to that end, as well as that Government’s expressed determination to find the remaining fugitive, Goran Hadzic. Mladic’s arrest “has put perpetrators of war crimes on notice”, and the United States expected all Member States to continue to assist the Tribunals as they entered the final phases of their respective work. At the same time, she urged the courts and their staffs to take every measure to ensure that trials and procedures were both expeditious and fair.
She said that the Residual Mechanism would allow for the completion of functions that would outlast the lives of the Tribunals. Bolstering national war crimes courts would help ensure a smooth and successful transfer to the Residual Mechanism. The Tribunals themselves must make the most efficient use of available resources, while also working with the Secretariat to address staffing shortages and problems of attrition highlighted in the Presidents’ briefings today. The United States welcomed the recent high-profile arrest of fugitives wanted by the Rwanda Tribunal, the second such apprehension of a former military officer. That had represented an important step towards addressing the concerns of the Rwandan people. She commended those countries that were cooperating with the Rwanda Tribunal to bring the remaining nine fugitives to justice. Finally, she said: “We will never be able to bring back those that were murdered, but Ratko Mladic and others will now have to answer for their victims in a court of law.”
REGINA DUNLOP (Brazil) commended efforts of the Tribunals to complete their work in a timely manner, adding that the Mladic arrest brought new assurance of judicial accountability for serious crimes. She also welcomed new procedures to expedite the proceedings of both Tribunals while assuring standards were maintained. She stressed that the staffing matter should be dealt with as a priority by the relevant United Nations bodies. It was crucial that the tasks of both Tribunals were accomplished and that was why her country had been strong in its support for Residual Mechanisms. In addition, as the Tribunals would have a lasting effect in their regions by promoting the rule of law, bringing them closer to the communities was important, particularly in regard to young people.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) welcomed the progress made by the two Tribunals in expediting their work, including the innovative procedures being used, which could serve as a useful model for national courts to which cases were transferred. He commended the partnership of the Tribunals with those national courts. He stressed that it was imperative that the Tribunals completed their work on time. In that light, he urged careful consideration of practical and innovative solutions of the staffing problem. He expressed appreciation for Serbia’s efforts in the apprehension of Ratko Mladic and hoped that such efforts would continue for the additional arrest needed. He also welcomed work towards the development of the Residual Mechanisms, and called for support to those mechanisms to allow a smooth transition from the Tribunals.
KIO SOLOMON AMIEYEOFORI (Nigeria) welcomed the measures, including reforms, taken by both Tribunal’s to expedite their work, while ensuring due process and adherence to international law. He urged intensified efforts to identify more pragmatic measures to address the challenges as their completion strategies neared. It was encouraging that both Tribunals contributed to the work of national courts in the effort to enhance international law and preserve their respective legacies. At the same time, cooperation should be enhanced among all States to ensure resettlement of witnesses and persons acquitted by the Tribunals. Every effort should now be geared towards ensuring a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism, and he welcomed the decision to create a joint working group within the two courts towards that end. He also welcomed the effort to bolster cooperation with all institutions that would participate in the work of the Mechanism.
Making a statement in his national capacity, Council President NOEL NELSON MESSONE (Gabon), welcomed progress made in implementing the Tribunals’ completion strategies and the determination of the courts’ officials and staffs to ensure a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanisms. Recent arrests had highlighted the fact that the fight against impunity required “patience and sacrifice”, and he hoped the recent momentum could carry over towards ensuring the arrest of remaining fugitives. As for challenges facing the Tribunals, he urged strong cooperation to ensure they were addressed in a timely manner. Also important was to strengthen the capacity of national judicial systems, especially training for judges and support staff, which should be a fundamental aspect for implementing the global strategy against impunity.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia) said efforts by the President and Prosecutor of the Court had been intensified by preparations for the start of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Commenting on the Prosecutor’s report, he said Serbia agreed with the assessment on all areas of cooperation except for the part on fugitives, which had been rendered “largely obsolete”, a fact recognized by the Prosecutor in his recent statements. He was pleased that the arrest of Ratko Mladic had resulted from intensive efforts of all those participating in the investigations. The arrest of the remaining fugitive, Goran Hadžić, was a priority.
For its part, Serbia had arrested and transferred to the Tribunal 45 out of 46 persons believed to be in the country, he said, noting that all requested documents had been delivered and access to witnesses and State archives granted. Serbia would continue its cooperation with the Tribunal, as well as its proactive approach to the regional stabilization process. It was strongly interested in the implementation of the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy. Serbia was fulfilling its obligations related to the issues of organ trafficking and persons unaccounted for after the 1999 Kosovo conflict, he said, reiterating the request for the Security Council to establish an independent mechanism to investigate organ crimes.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said the Tribunals’ mandates could not be considered accomplished without bringing to justice all remaining fugitives accused of the gravest crimes. Welcoming the arrest and transfer of Ratko Mladic to The Hague, he remembered the victims of war crimes committed in Croatia, saying he would regret if Mr. Mladic were not prosecuted for crimes committed there. Croatia was strongly committed to cooperating with the Tribunal and its Special Task Force actively pursuing investigations. On the issue of missing documents, he recalled the conclusion of Trial Chamber I on 26 July 2010, which stated that uncertainties about the creation of the requested documents had prevented Croatia from locating and delivering them.
He said Croatian officials at the highest level were engaged in direct, open dialogue with the Tribunal and Prosecutor. Croatian judges and prosecutors had participated in peer-to-peer meetings aimed at transferring the Tribunal’s institutional knowledge. Regional cooperation and establishing the impartiality of national courts, even after the Tribunal’s lifetime, was important, and Croatia had introduced measures to reinforce positive impacts of the four specialized war crimes courts. His country continued to fully cooperate with the Tribunal and, in the Gotovina et al case, it would fully respect any verdict rendered.
Mr. JALLOW, responding to comments made by the representative of Rwanda, assured him that there were extensive arrangements to monitor the two cases being tried in France. Both cases were now before an investigating judge and the monitoring arrangements would continue to provide information on their status. During his recent trip to Europe, he had received assurances from French authorities as well of their effective procedure in connection with the two cases.
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