Reviewing International Criminal Tribunals, Security Council Welcomes Their Aim of Ending Impunity, Generating Extensive Case Law
Reviewing International Criminal Tribunals, Security Council Welcomes Their Aim of Ending Impunity, Generating Extensive Case Law
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7073rd Meeting (PM)
Reviewing International Criminal Tribunals, Security Council Welcomes
Their Aim of Ending Impunity, Generating Extensive Case Law
Over the course of two decades, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had generated an extensive corpus of law and helped to end impunity, the Security Council heard today as it reviewed the court’s work, as well as that of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the judicial body mandated to complete their tasks.
Providing an update on recent progress made by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Theodor Meren, its President, said it had rendered five judgements during the reporting period. Forecast judgement delivery dates remained unchanged in seven of its 11 remaining cases. While delays in three of the remaining four cases were of a very limited nature, he added, the conclusion of one trial had been delayed by the disqualification of one of the judges presiding over the case. The Tribunal was developing robust systems to address the challenges that had led to its inability to complete all its judicial work by the end of 2014, he said.
Speaking also in his capacity as President of the International Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, he noted that the Mechanism, now operating on two continents, would carry forward the legacy of the two related but distinct Tribunals. It was fully engaged in various inherited responsibilities, from the appeal in the Ngirabatware case to managing the archives of both Tribunals.
The Council also heard from the Prosecutor of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, who expressed serious concerns about the progress of national war crimes cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Very little progress had been made towards finalizing nine of the 13 Category 11 cases transferred to that country by the Office of the Prosecutor between 2005 and 2009, he noted, adding that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s National War Crimes Strategy was floundering. “The future of international justice is increasingly national justice,” he emphasized. International courts provided an accountability safety net, but building national capacity to handle crimes effectively under international law was the lynchpin of the justice system.
As for the Rwanda Tribunal, Vagn Joensen, its President, said it had concluded appellate proceedings in respect of 46 persons. “The Appeals Chamber has continually devoted its best efforts towards the completion of all appeals work by the end of 2014.” Describing the relocation of acquitted suspects and convicts who had completed their sentences as one of the most serious challenges to completion of the Tribunal’s mandate, he requested the Council’s urgent assistance in supporting efforts to find host countries.
Also briefing the Council was Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal and of the International Residual Mechanism, who said that the latter’s heavy appellate workload required significant time and resources. Since June, the Office of the Prosecutor had responded to eight appeals filed by eight different convicted persons, he noted. A top priority for the Rwanda Tribunal was tracking nine indicted fugitives he said, adding that he planned to visit countries in East, Central and Southern Africa to secure greater cooperation for their apprehension.
Rwanda’s representative urged the Council to ensure that all parties cooperated with the Prosecutor’s quest to apprehend the fugitives, including those who had planned the 1994 genocide in his country. In addition, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as well as that country’s Government should scale up efforts to capture the masterminds. While welcoming the conclusion of trial-level cases, he said there had been delays in the Appeals Chamber, due to translation issues, but such problems could have been foreseen, he said, urging the acceleration of the proceedings so that appeals could conclude by the end of 2014.
Croatia’s representative said his Government had advocated for the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from the start, and would continue to render its full support to the institution. However, the Tribunal’s work was not complete, and some of those bearing the greatest responsibility for the wartime carnage, death and suffering awaited a verdict. Emphasizing that the Tribunal’s far-reaching legacy did not mean there was no room for improvement, especially with regard to protracted judicial processes and “late justice”, which interfered with the expectations of victims. Equally, the accused had a right to fair trials of a “reasonable” duration.
Serbia’s representative highlighted the case of Vojislav Šešelj, describing his almost 11-year detention without judicial decision as a gross violation of basic human rights. The Security Council had an “exceptionally important role” in ensuring the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s impartiality and eliminating all forms of politicization in its work, he said. Citing the various ways in which Serbia had cooperated with the Tribunal, he declared: “There were no outstanding and overdue requests for assistance, summonses were served on time, court orders were executed and witness interviews were arranged without delay and difficulty.”
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina underlined her country’s commitment to bringing perpetrators to justice, saying that the Tribunals served as a constant reminder that there was no impunity for serious crimes. Expressing regret that the Residual Mechanism had no staff members from her country, she reminded the Council of her Government’s proposal to locate its information centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also speaking today were representatives of Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo, United States, Australia, Luxembourg, Argentina, United Kingdom, Azerbaijan, Morocco, China, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea and France.
The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
The Security Council met this afternoon to hold its semi-annual debate on the ad hoc international tribunals, and to consider several documents. Among them were: the report of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document S/2013/460); report of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document S/2013/463); a letter dated 18 November 2013 from the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document S/2013/678); and a letter dated 13 November 2013 from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document S/2013/663). Both letters are addressed to the President of the Council.
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said the former had rendered five judgements since his last compilation strategy report. In the Trial Chambers, judgements had been rendered in the cases of Prlić et al and Stanišić and Simatović. In addition, the Appeals Chamber had rendered a judgement in the Rule 98 bis appeal in the Karadzic case. Forecast judgement delivery dates remained unchanged in seven of the Tribunal’s 11 remaining cases, and delays in three of the remaining four cases were of a very limited nature.
The conclusion of the Seselj trial had also been delayed due to the disqualification of one of the judges involved, he continued, noting that his replacement was currently familiarizing himself with the trial record and reviewing related documents. The inability to complete all judicial work of the Yugoslavia Tribunal by the end of 2014 reflected the uncertainty inherent in predicting the time needed to complete judgements in highly complex cases, he continued. Staff morale continued to be affected by the knowledge that many of their contracts would not be renewed.
He went on to state that during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last week, he had held meetings with victims from various communities and participated in a conference marking the twentieth anniversary of the Tribunal’s establishment. Conversations during the visit had emphasized that the Tribunal could not address all the needs of the region. Instead, the international community must support additional, complementary initiatives that would provide for reconciliation through dialogue and restitution, he stressed.
Turning to the work of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, he said it was now operating on two continents and inheriting work from two related but distinct Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals. The one appeal filed in the latter thus far, in the Ngirabatware case, was forecast to be completed by the end of 2014. The Mechanism was also fully engaged in other responsibilities, among them, ensuring the monitoring of cases referred to national jurisdictions, ensuring protection for witnesses and victims, and managing the archives of both Tribunals.
In conclusion, he said the twentieth anniversary of the Yugoslavia Tribunal this year was an opportunity to remember that in the course of two decades, the Tribunal had accounted for all 161 individuals indicted, given rise to an authoritative and extensive corpus of procedural and substantive law relating to serious international crimes, and helped to end impunity, even for national or military leaders. The Mechanism, carrying the legacy of both Tribunals forward, would be a worthy successor to both, he said.
VAGN JOENSEN, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, provided and update on progress towards completing the remaining work, saying that as of today, the Tribunal had concluded appellate proceedings in respect of 46 persons. The Appeals Chamber would render one more judgement on 16 December, in the Ndahimana case, while four other appeal judgements concerning eight persons would be disposed of in 2014, leaving only one appeal case — Nyiramasuhuko et al., or “Butare” — which would be completed in 2015. “The Appeals Chamber has continually devoted its best efforts towards the completion of all appeals work by the end of 2014,” he said.
He said the Butare case was now due to be completed “not before the end of July 2015”, the change having been prompted in part by the “sheer complexity” of the case and the inability to meet expedited translation goals with respect to the more than 1,400-page trial judgement. He said he had been working with the Presiding Judge on the Butare case since May — when the projection had been pushed past the end of 2014 — to determine what could be done to mitigate the delay, and they remained in close contact to expedite the appeals. The Presiding Judge had held a status conference in May with a view to streamlining the consideration of several motions and facilitating more efficient disposal of pre-appeal work. The Tribunal was making every effort to complete that case while fully respecting the rights of the accused to due process.
On the visit to Rwanda by the Yugoslavia Tribunal and the Mechanism, on 4 and 5 November, he said that for the first time, the Presidents, Prosecutors and representatives of Tribunal and Mechanism Registrars had met with senior Government officials to discuss issues of mutual interest. The relocation of acquitted suspects and convicts who had completed their sentences in the United Republic of Tanzania was among the most serious challenges to completion of the Tribunal’s mandate. The Prosecutor and Registrar had appealed, between May and October, to representatives of North American, European and African countries to accept one or more such people, he said, requesting the Council’s urgent assistance in supporting the Tribunal’s efforts to find host countries.
In conclusion, he said the Mechanism was responsible for monitoring all cases referred to national jurisdictions, including two that had been referred to France and two referred to Rwanda. The Mechanism would also monitor the six fugitive cases transferred to Rwanda, and had begun to assume responsibility for managing the archives of both Tribunals. Recalling the importance of the Tribunals’ continuing efforts to foster genocide education, he said it had instituted training programmes, workshops and partnerships with learning institutions around the world. With continuing assistance, the Tribunal would close its doors with its mandate completed and its legacy secured, he said.
SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that while there had been positive progress in the three remaining trails, the Seselj case had suffered a serious setback. Further, events during the reporting period had reminded the international community that many people in the former Yugoslavia were still waiting for answers about the fate of their loved ones. The recently discovered Tomasica mass grave in north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the largest uncovered, with more than 474 bodily remains exhumed so far. That was a timely reminder of the need to accelerate efforts to resolve the issue of persons still missing from conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Commending Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for their cooperation with the Tribunal, he said there were, nevertheless, serious concerns about the progress of national war crimes cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Very little progress had been made towards finalizing nine of the 13 Category 11 cases transferred there by the Prosecutor’s Office between 2005 and 2009, he continued. The National War Crimes Strategy was floundering as measures to relieve the bottleneck of cases before the State Court had not yet been matched with essential resources. Further, implementation by the Federation’s judicial system of the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the Maktouf and Damjanović case had raised a number of issues, he noted. Among them was the unconditional release of 12 persons convicted by the State Court of serious crimes including, in some cases, genocide. “The future of international justice is increasingly national justice,” he said. While international courts would always be needed to provide an accountability safety net, building national capacity to handle crimes effectively under international law was the lynchpin of the justice system.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said heavy appellate workload still required significant time and resources, recalling that, since June, his office had responded to eight appeals filed by eight different convicted persons in the Butara, Nzabonimana and Nizeyimana cases. It had also assisted the Mechanism in responding to the appeal in the Ngirabatware case. It had also been preparing for hearings in the Karemera et al. case, scheduled for the week of 10 February 2014. The Prosecutor’s Office awaited judgement by the Appeals Chamber in the Ndahimana case on 16 December and in the Military 2 case in February 2014.
Turning to the activities of the Office of the Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism, he cited the recruitment of staff for core and ad hoc functions, preparation of the budget for the 2014-2015 biennium, the establishment of systems and procedures for streamlining operations, and ensuring greater coordination between the branches in Arusha and The Hague. The tracking of three fugitives — Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana — was a top priority, he said, adding that he planned to visit countries in East, Central and Southern Africa to secure greater cooperation in that regard. He said the Office had responded to 80 requests for assistance from 17 countries and international organizations, out of a total of 112 requests to both the Arusha and Hague branches.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said that beyond its judicial work, promoting peace and reconciliation was a central aspect of the Tribunals’ efforts. They had both also contributed to the strengthening of national judicial systems. For the first time in history, the two Tribunals and the Mechanism were fully operational, he noted. It had been a productive year for the Yugoslavia Tribunal, as could be seen in its various decisions and in the election of new judges. As for the Rwanda Tribunal, deliberations on various appeals continued, but as it approached the end of its work, the human rights situation of convicts who had completed their sentences, but had not yet been relocated, was a matter of concern, and the international community must find a proper way to resolve the situation before the Tribunal completed its work. Guatemala was also concerned about the Tribunals’ difficulties in retaining staff, he said, emphasizing that it was crucial to support the Tribunals politically and financially.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said both Tribunals had made progress in their completion strategies. Over the last six months, they had remained engaged in trials and drafting judgements. Their initiatives in providing assistance to victims and in capacity-building projects were significant, he said, expressing hope that they would make all efforts to complete their judicial work as quickly as possible while taking the fundamental rights of the appellants into account. He stressed the need for adequate resources for the recruitment of staff and retention of institutional memory. The body of jurisprudence produced by the Tribunals would be helpful in the fight against impunity, and it was necessary to preserve that valuable contribution to international legal doctrine, he said.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) noted that the Rwanda Tribunal had completed all cases at the trial level and was preparing to hand down new appeals judgements. The Yugoslavia Tribunal was trying to uphold timelines, and the recent appointment of Judges Niang and Afande would help both Tribunals in that regard. Alarmed at the attrition among qualified staff, he expressed hope that United Nations bodies would mitigate the impact. Urging the Tribunals to coordinate their efforts, he deplored the difficulties in relocating people who had been acquitted, but remained in need of freedom, which was a serious humanitarian issue. The Council’s lack of action would affect credibility of the United Nations in relation to upholding the rule of law, he said, calling for a report on the Organization’s role in that regard. Togo also wished to see greater geographical representation and more women in higher ranking posts within the Residual Mechanism, he said.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said his Government had provided strong support for the Tribunals since their inception in the early 1990s. They had been founded on the belief that those responsible for mass atrocities must be held accountable. Today, they had tried more than 200 defendants on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, among others, and had built a robust body of international humanitarian law. Commending the Presidents and Prosecutors for having implemented cost-saving and managerial measures, he also praised the Yugoslavia Tribunal for its focus on completing all trials and appeals, pointing out that it had rendered the largest number of judgements in almost any reporting period. He urged Governments in the region to continue on the path towards reconciliation and bring war criminals to justice. As for the Rwanda Tribunal, he called for cooperation in apprehending of the nine remaining fugitives, calling on regional Governments to work with the Tribunal to relocate acquitted or released persons whose return was problematic.
MICHAEL BLISS ( Australia) called upon the Council to assert its role in addressing the remaining challenges facing the Tribunals. Specifically, the Informal Working Group should support the Rwanda Tribunal’s efforts to relocate acquitted and released persons currently in the United Republic of Tanzania, some of whom had been confined to safe houses for 10 years. It was also imperative that the Council renew the mandates of judges of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, which would expire shortly, affecting the efficient conclusion of the remaining cases. It was also crucial to share the Tribunals’ experience and promote their legacy. The Council also still needed to fulfil its responsibility to end impunity, especially by providing political and diplomatic support to the International Criminal Court, he said.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said the Yugoslavia Tribunal had provided a basis for the promotion of an important international principle: in order to settle conflicts in regions ravaged by war, those suspected of perpetrating the most serious crimes must be brought to justice. The case law created by the Tribunal had also contributed to the development of international criminal law. It provided a voice for victims, especially women and children, and today it was dealing with a workload of highly intricate cases, she said, adding that staff retention issues were causing further delays. Nothing should undercut the Tribunals’ ability to ensure that justice was served, she stressed, noting that the Rwanda Tribunal had also contributed significantly to ending impunity and genocide. In the Western Balkans, as well as the Great Lakes region, combating impunity was crucial to allowing citizens to imagine a future they could trust.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) voiced support for the mandate extensions for judges of the Yugoslavia Tribunal. As for the Rwanda Tribunal, reports that “nine accused are still at large is not very good news”, she said, emphasizing the necessity of cooperation by all Member States. As the Council observed a moment of silence in memory of Nelson Mandela, she said today’s meeting was a reminder of the human rights values that the late South African President had represented. Noting that mothers and grandmothers were going around the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires “at this very moment”, she said people like Mandela had taught humanity to persevere in the fight for justice.
PAUL MCKELL ( United Kingdom) expressed concern over the capacity of national institutions to conduct war crimes cases, especially those in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and voiced support for the report’s recommendation that local authorities adopt a training programme. The completion of all trials and appeals work was an important development, he said, urging the Yugoslavia Tribunal to minimize delays. As for the Rwanda Tribunal, expressed concern over the failure to apprehend remaining fugitives, and encouraged all States to support their swift apprehension. In addition, the problem of relocating acquitted persons had not been resolved, he noted, emphasizing that enabling acquitted persons to resume their lives was an expression of the rule of law.
TOFIG F. MUSAYEV ( Azerbaijan) noted that trials and appeals at the Yugoslavia Tribunal continued to be affected by the loss of highly experienced staff members, he said, welcoming efforts to improve job security and work conditions, and to provide a range of training and career development opportunities. The Rwanda Tribunal had faced difficulties in relocating individuals who had either been acquitted or released. The international community, including the Council, should spare no effort in providing the Tribunals with the necessary support to complete their mandates and preserve their legacy. They had helped to develop international law, fight impunity and deliver justice, and their practice would obviously benefit national efforts to pursue post-conflict justice, especially in situations where the prevailing culture of impunity for serious crimes represented a considerable obstacle to peace and reconciliation.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) welcomed the conclusion of the Rwanda Tribunal’s trial-level cases while noting delays in the Appeals Chamber, especially in the Butare case, now to conclude in July 2015. The reasons given for the delay, such as translation, could have been foreseen, he noted, urging acceleration of the appeals so that cases could conclude by the end of 2014. He also voiced regret that the report made no mention of progress on certain cases, emphasizing that should they remain pending, the Tribunal should envision their transfer to Rwanda.
He went on to urge the Council to ensure that all parties cooperated with the Prosecutor in the apprehension of the nine fugitives, including those who had planned the 1994 genocide in his country. In addition, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations peacekeeping operation in that country should scale up efforts to capture the masterminds. The Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) continued to commit massacres in Rwanda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, he noted, thanking Germany for launching legal proceedings against the group’s leaders and calling on other European Union countries hosting FDLR members to do the same.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL ( Morocco) said the work of Rwanda Tribunal had been marked by a spirit of cooperation, but the transition to the Residual Mechanism was not without difficulty. Practical solutions must be explored for the rehabilitation of those who had been acquitted or completed their sentences. Morocco also welcomed the outreach programme targeting young people in the colleges and universities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Croatia and Serbia, he said.
LI ZHENHUA ( China) said that, in spite of the progress made by both Tribunals, proceedings were still marked by undue delays. It was vital to abide strictly by Security Council resolutions, and both Tribunals must take rigorous steps to meet the timeline. Noting the challenges that the Tribunals faced in relocating those acquitted, he said it was against the spirit of justice to deny them rehabilitation. The Rwanda Tribunal was also responsible for tracking fugitives and bringing them to justice, he said.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV ( Russian Federation) said the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s difficulties in translating cases continued to delay legal proceedings. Translation of the judgment on the Prlić case had delayed the outcome for one year, and similar delays had delayed the Rwanda Tribunal’s progress on the Butare case. Furthermore, the problem of secure resettlement of persons who had been acquitted or released could hamper the work of both Tribunals, but that was no reason to close the Rwanda Tribunal, he said, recalling that the Residual Mechanism had been created to resolve such issues. Delays only undercut international justice and increased financial burdens.
JOON OH (Republic of Korea) expressed confidence that the Residual Mechanism would maintain the high standards set by the Tribunals. The Government of the Republic of Korea expected that the appointment of the permanent judge of the Rwanda Tribunal would help facilitate the appellate work of both Tribunals, he said, urging the Rwanda Tribunal to resolve the problem of relocating those acquitted or who had served their sentences. Noting that the Yugoslavia Tribunal faced challenges relating to late arrests, staff attrition and delays in appellate work estimated to be completed by mid-2017, he urged it to complete its work in a timely manner, without sacrificing the principles of justice. He welcomed the Residual Mechanism’s engagement in appeal proceedings of the Ngirabatware case, saying that showed it was fulfilling its mandate. He urged States to cooperate in the arrest and prosecution of the nine fugitives.
ALEXIS LAMEK ( France), Council President, spoke in his national capacity, saying that, although the Tribunals had made significant progress in the execution of their mandates, all was not perfect. Given the complex nature of the cases before the Yugoslavia Tribunal, it was natural that some slippages might occur, he said. Furthermore, all Member States must cooperate with the Rwanda Tribunal — an obligation under Security Council resolutions — in respect of assistance in relocating acquitted persons. France had been the first country to welcome several individuals onto its territory, at the Council’s request, and hoped more countries would do the same.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK ( Croatia), emphasizing that ending the culture of impunity was of paramount importance, said his country had advocated for the establishment of the Yugoslavia Tribunal from the start. However, its work was not finished, as some of those most responsible for carnage, death and suffering awaited a verdict. “You can rest assured that Croatia will continue to cooperate and render its full support to the Tribunal,” he said, noting that his country’s membership in the European Union had been achieved, in part, because of its full cooperation with the Tribunal, and its reforms to its judicial sector, including the establishment of specialized war crimes chambers of selected courts.
The Tribunal’s results and far-reaching legacy did not mean there was no room for improvement in its work, he said, citing protracted judicial processes and “late justice”, which interfered with victims’ expectations. Equally so, the accused had a right to fair trials of a “reasonable” duration. One could also argue that modifications to the rules of procedure did not always contribute to legal security or simplicity. Underlining the importance of enhanced regional cooperation in the area of war crimes, he said Croatia would continue its efforts in line with the generally accepted principles of international criminal law. Establishing individual accountability based on the judicially verified facts was vital to reconciliation, a process which could only be concluded by society.
MILAN MILANOVIĆ ( Serbia) said that there were no outstanding and overdue requests for assistance. Further, summonses were served on time, court orders were executed and witness interviews were arranged without delay and difficulty. Such efforts demonstrated his country’s serious commitment to abide by its international obligations, and contribute towards achieving justice and regional reconciliation. Serbia had completed cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal on the transfer of all accused persons. It had also responded to most of the 3,350 requests for assistance received from the Office of the Prosecutor or a defence counsel regarding access to documents, archives and witnesses.
He underscored the Security Council’s “exceptionally important role” in ensuring impartiality of the Yugoslavia Tribunal and eliminating all forms of politicization and voluntarism in its work. However, the case of Vojislav Šešelj’s almost 11-year detention without judicial decision was a gross violation of basic human rights and directly infringed the provisions of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Those convicted in the Hague Tribunal must be allowed to serve their sentences in the States which had emerged from the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The Serbian Government sought to take responsibility for its nationals serving such sentences, as well as by other persons convicted by the Tribunal. Since 2009, Serbia had requested to sign an Agreement with the Tribunal on that, he said, recalling that its officials had written to the United Nations and the Tribunal on a number of occasions. Regrettably, no progress had been made.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the Tribunals served as a constant reminder that there was no impunity for serious crimes. The Yugoslavia Tribunal would soon complete its mandate; further processing of war crimes would have to be transferred to the national judicial systems. Her country’s commitment to investigate, prosecute and appropriately punish perpetrators of such crimes was unquestionable. Noting the importance of regional cooperation, she said she was certain that the Protocol on the exchange of evidence and information would serve as an impetus in strengthening communication and further enhancing coordination.
In order to preserve documentation pertaining to the Yugoslavia Tribunal, she added, her country had proposed that the Information Centre should be located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That Centre would serve future generations and be a constant reminder that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law should never be repeated. Also welcomed was the decision that staff for the Residual Mechanism be composed, among others, from the countries of the Western Balkans region. It was, however, surprising and regrettable that, at present, there were no staff members from Bosnian and Herzegovina. That issue deserved further consideration given the Organization’s spirit of inclusiveness.
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