Accelerated Pace Palpable as Criminal Tribunals Strive to Conclude Caseload, Transfer Balance to Residual Mechanism, Security Council Hears in Briefings

SC/11917
3 June 2015
7455th Meeting* (PM)

Accelerated Pace Palpable as Criminal Tribunals Strive to Conclude Caseload, Transfer Balance to Residual Mechanism, Security Council Hears in Briefings

The International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia were downsizing as quickly as possible, top officials from those courts told the Security Council today, stressing that their impending closure and transition to a smaller successor body was an opportunity to both preserve and share lessons learned in the practice of international jurisprudence.

Reporting on the Rwanda Tribunal, President Vagn Joensen said the Appeals Chamber had completed its work with respect to all appeals from the trial judgments, with the exception of Nyiramasuhuko et al. — or the Butare case — concerning six persons.  Following oral hearings in April, the case was now in its final stage, judgment drafting.  The scope of the appeals, combined with the departure of experienced staff and the need to rule on “voluminous” pre-appeal litigation, had strained the workload.  Nonetheless, delivery of the judgment was anticipated in the fourth quarter, and the Tribunal’s closure before year-end.

Hassan B. Jallow, the Prosecutor of that Tribunal and of the International Residual Mechanism for both courts, said the Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor continued to take over functions from the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals.  He had recently visited Rwanda to discuss issues of mutual interest, including the management of cases referred to Rwanda by the Tribunal and the tracking of fugitives.  “We remain fully committed to their arrest and trial before the Mechanism,” he said.

He told the Council that its “unflinching commitment to the cause of international criminal justice has also enabled the Mechanism to take off and begin to execute its functions effectively in a very short period”.

Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that among the challenges — which, to his great regret, had caused case delays — some were out of the Tribunal’s control, such as the health of accused individuals, including Goran Hadžić and Ratko Mladić, and the discovery of new evidence, as was true in the Mladić case.  Staff attrition was another factor.  He accepted responsibility for the delays, but asked that they be considered in their broader context.  The Residual Mechanism, he said as its President, was an example of best practice, as it completed its judicial and administrative work at a high standard and in an efficient manner.

Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of that Tribunal, said the countries of the former Yugoslavia continued to cooperate with the Office and to respond, as needed, to requests for assistance.  Regional cooperation on high-profile cases had included joint arrest operations conducted by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.  However, only a limited number of the outstanding cases at the national level had so far been prosecuted.  More should be done on the most complex and highest-priority cases.  “It has become clear that further progress in effective national justice requires a more strategic approach to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes,” he said.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates commended both Tribunals on their efforts to wind down their work, which some said would serve as a reminder to future generations that there was no impunity for mass atrocity crimes.

At the same time, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed concern that the completion of the Tribunal’s mandate had been jeopardized by the health of several detainees, as well as staff attrition.  Underlining the vital role of justice in building sustainable peace in post-conflict societies, she encouraged the Tribunal to undertake all possible measures to avoid further delays.

Along similar lines, Croatia’s delegate said it was “beyond understanding” that those responsible for heinous crimes 20 years ago had yet to receive judgments.  He urged that the trial of Mr. Hadžić resume as soon as possible, and that trial judgments in the cases of Mr. Mladić and Mr. Karadžić not be further delayed.  A trial that resulted in a decision was an essential right of both the accused and the victims, he stressed.

Noting that the Tribunal had rendered some controversial decisions, Serbia’s representative said that in almost all major cases in which the victims had been groups or individuals of Serb ethnicity, the accused were acquitted.  Nevertheless, his Government had never stopped cooperating and continued to fulfil its international obligations in good faith.

Rwanda’s delegate reiterated the call to all States, particularly those in his region, to collaborate in arresting the remaining fugitives.  He expressed hope that Paul Murayi, the son-in-law of fugitive Paul Kabuga, would soon be included on the appropriate sanctions list for supporting the genocidal practices of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Commending the work of the two international Tribunals, he expressed hope that “all legal proceedings will be completed very soon to enable the affected victims to turn a dark page of their history”.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Chile, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Spain, Nigeria United States, France, Venezuela, Chad, United Kingdom, Angola, Jordan, Lithuania, China and Malaysia.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

Briefings

THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said that among the challenges, which, to his great regret, had caused case delays, some were out of the Tribunal’s control, such as the health of accused individuals, such as that of Goran Hadžić and Ratko Mladić, and the discovery of new evidence, as was also true to the Mladić case.  Staff attrition was another factor, as several middle- and senior-level staff with extensive case-specific experience looked elsewhere for longer-term appointments.

As Tribunal President, he accepted responsibility for the delays, but asked that they be considered in their broader context.  He assured the Council that the Judges and staff were working diligently to complete their work as rapidly as possible, while maintaining the commitment to just procedures and appeals.  Considered through a broader lens, the Tribunal continued to make significant progress.  During the reporting period, the court rendered two major appeal judgements — in the large multi-accused Popović et al. case and in the complex Tolimir case – and by the end of the year, should complete work on all but two trials and two appeals; the last cases were still expected to be completed in 2017, as previously predicted.  In addition, the Tribunal’s contributions to ending impunity continued to help prevent further atrocities.

Turning to the Mechanism, he said that it was an example of best practices, completing its judicial and administrative work at a high standard and in an efficient manner with the cooperation of the two Tribunals.  The Mechanism’s first judgment had been delivered in December 2014 with no delays to the ambitious schedule previously reported.  Several decisions and orders on a variety of matters had also been issued.  The Chambers of the Mechanism had established rosters and procedures, which would allow continued efficiency with the highest procedural safeguards, as per a code of judicial conduct adopted last month.  The Mechanism had also made great progress in assuming responsibility for other functions of the International Criminal Tribunals.

The key challenges facing the Mechanism included the outstanding arrest warrants for the remaining Rwanda Tribunal indictees, who had yet to be apprehended.  That included three persons who were expected to be tried by the Mechanism.  It was imperative that all members of the international community increase efforts to apprehend the fugitives.  A second challenge was posed by persons acquitted by that Tribunal or those who had completed their sentences.  Planning for their relocation focused on promotion of resettlement with a reduced cost.  The good efforts of the international community were required for that purpose and, in that, the Security Council’s leadership was very important.

“Together with our partners from all over the globe, the [former Yugoslavia Tribunal] and Mechanism are committed to continuing the fight to end impunity and, through our work, supporting the strengthening of the rule of law on the international level and around the world,” he concluded.

VAGN JOENSEN, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, turning first to judicial progress, reported that the Appeals Chamber had completed its work with respect to all appeals from the trial judgments, with the exception of one case, Nyiramasuhuko et al. — or the Butare case — concerning six persons.  Following oral hearings in April, the case was now in its final stage, judgment drafting.  However, the scope of the appeals, combined with the continued departures of experienced staff and the need to rule on “voluminous” pre-appeal litigation prior to oral hearings, had caused considerable strain on the appeal team’s workload.  Nonetheless, delivery of the Butare Appeal judgment was projected for the fourth quarter, and the Tribunal’s closure was still expected before year-end.

On the issue of reparations for victims, he said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had submitted a draft assessment study to Rwanda on possible ways forward and, once finalized in the coming months, it would be transmitted to relevant stakeholders, and follow-up activities would be planned.  Relocating the acquitted and convicted released persons residing in Rwanda remained a daunting issue.  It was appropriate for the Tribunal to pass that important duty to the Mechanism, which had assumed responsibility for such issues on 1 January 2015.  However, until its closure, the Tribunal would support Mechanism requests.  He called again for the Council’s urgent assistance to find a sustainable solution to that issue.

Concerning the transition to the Mechanism, he said its reliance on the Tribunal for administrative and other services had been significantly reduced.  While the monitoring of all cases referred to national jurisdictions was now the Mechanism’s responsibility, the Tribunal continued to provide interim monitors in the French cases.  In May, it was determined that there were four cases of contempt/false testimony before the Tribunal, which remained its responsibility.  As all the suspects were at large, he had assigned benches to ascertain whether any action was necessary prior to the Tribunal’s closure.  Concerning the archives, he said that, as of 5 May, the Tribunal had transferred to the Mechanism more than 1,700 linear metres of records comprising more than 75 per cent of physical records anticipated for transfer.  Judicial records related to the Butare case had been separated for transfer, following the appeal judgment.

As for the Tribunal’s legacy, he said the court had taken its impending closure as an opportunity to ensure that the lessons learned in the creation, operation and closure of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal were preserved and shared.  A workshop on best practices and lessons learned in Chambers had been held at the court, where representatives from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and other tribunals discussed the technical aspects of providing legal assistance to the judiciary during pretrial, trial and appellate phases.

SERGE BRAMMERTZ, Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, at the end of the reporting period, four trials were ongoing.  In the Mladić case, the defence continued to present its evidence.  His Office would reopen the Prosecution case later this month in order to present recently discovered evidence on the Tomašica mass grave.  In the Hadžić case, the trial had been adjourned in October 2014, owing to the health of the accused; it had not yet resumed.  In the Šešelj and Karadžić cases, the Office continued to await the trial judgments, which would be delivered later this year.  Also during the reporting period, appeal judgments had been delivered in the Popović et al. and Tolimir cases, largely confirming the genocide and other convictions that were secured at trial.  Only three appeal proceedings now remained.  The oral hearings in Stanišić and Simatović and Stanišić and Župljanin were anticipated to be held later this year.   In addition, in the Prlić et al. appeal, the Office had successfully completed its written arguments on schedule.

The countries of the former Yugoslavia continued to cooperate with the Office and to respond, as needed, to requests for assistance.  “State cooperation in all aspects of our work remains mandatory and will continue to be closely monitored,” he said.  Regional cooperation on high-profile cases had included joint arrest operations conducted by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.  However, only a limited number of the outstanding cases at the national level had so far been prosecuted.  More should be done on the most complex and highest-priority cases, particularly those involving senior- and mid-level officials.  “It has become clear that further progress in effective national justice requires a more strategic approach to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes,” he said.

His report, he noted, highlighted the successful results by the Prosecutor’s Office for crimes related to the Srebrenica genocide.  There had been only limited progress on category II cases transferred by his Office.  However, the Chief Prosecutor had given strong assurances that prosecutorial decisions would be taken in all remaining cases by the end of the year.  Victims from every group were unanimous that the search for missing persons remained another priority.  Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should give serious consideration to the recommendations issued recently by the International Commission on Missing Persons.  It was critical that the Law on Missing Persons be fully implemented and that national authorities take full responsibility for that vital work.  His Office was working intensively with key partners to strengthen the search for the missing persons, by re-examining evidence and information.  Its foremost objective was completing its work expeditiously, in line with the Completion Strategy.

HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said that this year, the Office of the Prosecutor had presented oral arguments in the case of the Prosecutor vs. Nyiramasuhuko – or Butare case - the Tribunal’s last case.  The oral hearing in April was significant in bringing to a close a “very important chapter” in the Tribunal’s life.  He expected that the request to complete all cases by end-2015 would be fulfilled by delivery of the final judgment in the Butare case before year-end.

With that in mind, he said a “sizeable” number of appeal staff had been separated from the Tribunal in May, with only a small number retained to complete pre- and post-appeal proceedings in the Butare case, as well as other closure- and legacy-related activities.  His Office continued to make progress in the areas of archiving, disclosures and legacy projects, and, in the last six months, 1,100 boxes of active case material concerning fugitives Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya and Augustin Bizimana had been cleaned, processed, classified and transferred to his Office.  While a significant amount of material in closed cases had been handed over to the Mechanism Registry, staff separation and attrition had hampered efforts towards a timely completion of remaining work.  The completion of legacy and best practices projects remained on course for conclusion by year-end.

The Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor, he said, continued to take over functions from the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals, and intensified efforts to track the three top fugitives.  “We remain fully committed to their arrest and trial before the Mechanism,” he said, noting that the Mechanism was working with Rwanda, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the United States State Department in that regard.  The Investigations Section had been strengthened with new staff, and fresh initiatives had been taken to locate and bring the fugitives to justice — internal measures that must be supported by full State cooperation.

Concerning judicial activities, he said that, following judgment in the Ngirabatware appeal case, delivered on 18 December 2014, staff members of the ad hoc appeals team had been separated from the Mechanism, while core staff continued to deal with post-appeal review litigation.  The Office continued to prepare for the fast recruitment of staff to handle trials of the three Mechanism fugitives for the Arusha branch, and the possible appeals of Voijislav Seselj, Radovan Karadžić and Goran Hadžić, anticipated within the year.  His Office would continue its policy of engagement with countries in the former Yugoslavia, collaboration that had yielded “good” results in the arrest and prosecution of persons responsible for crimes committed in their national territories.

In the last six months, the Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor had serviced 208 requests for assistance from 10 countries and international organizations, and that number would likely increase.  “Your unflinching commitment to the cause of international criminal justice has also enabled the Mechanism to take off and begin to execute its functions effectively in a very short period,” he said.

Statements

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), recognizing progress by the two Tribunals and its leaders, as well as in the transition to the Residual Mechanism, reiterated concern over those who needed to be relocated, as well as over fugitives that must be apprehended.  The international community must intensify its efforts in both areas and continue to support the Tribunals in completing their critical work.  He paid tribute to the courts for their contributions to international law and ending impunity.  As Chair of the committee on international tribunals, he reiterated his country’s continuing support and urged the Council’s further utilization of their accomplishments in its efforts to prevent further atrocities.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said that his delegation was on the Council when the Tribunals were established more than 20 years ago and did not expect that they would still be on the agenda when it returned to the body.  But that should not be seen as a failure.  The Tribunals had managed complex criminal proceedings.  It was a pleasure to see that the Rwanda Tribunal was still on track to be formally closed at the end of 2015, with only liquidation activities remaining.  He encouraged the other Tribunal to step up efforts to ensure that its proceedings were completed by 2017.  The Tribunals should enjoy the same level of support at closure as they did at inception.  It was an ongoing responsibility for the Council to continue providing the necessary resources and political support until the courts completed their mandates.  On the other hand, the Tribunals must meet Council deadlines and the legitimate expectations of victims, for whom the courts were established.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation), noting Council requirements for timely completion of the work of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, said that the continued delays were of great concern and the reasons given for those delays were unconvincing.  Health problems required a strategy, and delays further caused long periods of detention of individuals who had not been convicted.  He expected to see results by the end of the year.  He acknowledged Serbia’s contribution to the work of both Tribunals.  Noting progress in the Mechanism, he called for its effective implementation, emphasizing provisions for continuous review of its work.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), welcoming progress in the work of the Tribunals, encouraged that of the former Yugoslavia to conclude remaining cases as efficiently as possible, as justice delayed was justice denied.  He shared concern over politicization of national cases and called for judicial independence.  In that regard, he welcomed regional cooperation in the context of the anniversary of the Srebenica events, emphasizing also the importance of maintaining the international community’s support for the Tribunal’s work, as well as a fluid transition to the Mechanism.  Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, he also encouraged timely completion of its work, calling for intensified efforts to apprehend outstanding fugitives.  He welcomed progress in the Mechanism’s work and encouraged relocation of those who had completed sentences or had been acquitted.  He finally urged a concerted effort to disseminate the Tribunals’ work to strengthen international law through their “proud” legacy.  Given current atrocities, it was critical to build on that legacy.

KAYODE LARO (Nigeria), noting the progress made by the Tribunals, encouraged the former Yugoslavia Tribunal to overcome challenges to completing its work.  He welcomed the court’s public outreach, while commending the Rwanda Tribunal for its progress, as well as its cooperation with other courts and its awareness-raising activities.  He encouraged all States to ensure that fugitives were apprehended.

DAVID PRESSMAN (United States), recalling the history of prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity starting with Nuremburg, he said that the two Tribunals were an important part of that legacy.  Welcoming progress in the former Yugoslavia court, he expressed hope that the victims of Srebenica would have an outcome, in related cases, which measured up to their suffering; he decried inflammatory rhetoric that could have a negative impact on justice in such cases.  Paying tribute to the successes of the court over its history, he called for the international community to make a similar outcome possible for the Rwanda Tribunal by intensified efforts to apprehend outstanding fugitives from its warrants.  As accountability for crimes was necessary for any real peace, the two Tribunals should serve as a strong message to those who continued to commit grave violations thinking that the world would forget after armed conflict was ended.

TANGUY STEHELIN (France) said 76 per cent of those recruited to the Mechanism had previously belonged to the Tribunals, which contributed to the efficiency of the completion process.  France attached the greatest importance to the completion strategy.  Concerning the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, the departure of key staff partially explained the delay in its transition, making the allocation of appropriate resources all the more necessary.  The Tribunal must endeavour to complete its work and transition towards the Mechanism.  He stressed the importance of the closure of the Rwanda Tribunal by year-end, saying that staff reduction was a positive sign of its jurisdiction transfer to the Mechanism.  The arrest and transfer of fugitives was a priority, and he called for States’ cooperation.  Both Tribunals were a major step forward in combatting impunity.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) supported the work of the Tribunals in bringing to justice those responsible for crimes that had “shaken the conscience of humanity”.  He urged State cooperation as they worked to conclude their activities, transfer their archives and search for fugitives.  Concerning the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, he welcomed that 147 of 161 judicial processes that had been completed; there was no escaping justice.  He noted, however, that several trial cases had been delayed.  Judges must work impartially and hand down timely sentences.  “Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.  Concerning the Rwanda Tribunal, of nine cases of fugitives, six had been referred to Rwandan courts and three to the Mechanism.  He urged authorities to bring the fugitives to justice and supported the Mechanism’s strategic plan for relocation.  He urged the former Yugoslavia Tribunal to complete its work expeditiously and ensure that all cases concluded as planned in 2017.

MADELEINE ANDEBENG LABEU ALINGUE (Chad) noted efforts by the Tribunals to complete their work, saying that in the last six months, the judicial and legal activities of the Rwandan Tribunal had focused on transitioning to the Mechanism.  The Tribunal continued to downsize its staff and she encouraged all teams to complete their work, regretting that six fugitives were still at large and urging countries to show solidarity with Rwanda.  The former Yugoslavia Tribunal was working to complete its work, with two important arrests made during the reporting period.  There were now seven judgements to be rendered.  Of the 161 people accused, 147 had been tried, but the health of the accused and delays in proceedings had hampered the Tribunal’s work, as had staff attrition.  She urged the court to continue its completion strategy, pressing it to rationalize its judicial activities to avoid further delays.

HELEN MULVEIN (United Kingdom) recognized the importance of new evidence in the Mladić case and looked forward to a timely resolution at year-end.  She hoped the remaining three appeals could be completed on time and encouraged the Tribunal to conclude its work expeditiously.  It was encouraging that the Prosecutor’s Office was satisfied with its cooperation with authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.  It was also positive that the search for missing persons had been reinvigorated in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The Prosecutor had raised concerns over significant challenges concerning regional prosecutions of war crimes, which risked breaching timelines of the national war crimes strategy.  She was concerned that only a fraction of cases had been prosecuted at the national level.  As for the Rwanda Tribunal, the failure to apprehend nine fugitives was worrying, and she urged State cooperation in ensuring their arrest.  She welcomed discussions on victim reparations and hoped for a progress update.

JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola), paying tribute to the Tribunals for their contributions to international justice and the rule of law, looked forward to the expeditious completion of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s work, assured that steps were being taken to complete all cases and appeals by 2017.  Commending the work of the Rwanda Tribunal, he expressed concern over the outstanding fugitives, noting the need for the cooperation of all States in their apprehension.  He welcomed the timely establishment of the Residual Mechanism, as well as dissemination of lessons learned from the Tribunals.  He hoped that the matter of relocation would be resolved.  Finally, he affirmed that justice was a necessary factor in lasting peace for both regions and called for continued support for the completion of the Tribunals’ work.

EIHAB OMAISH (Jordan), welcoming progress made by the two Tribunals, said that they played a crucial role in establishing principles of international law.  He encouraged making the best use of their lessons learned.  He stressed the importance of the effective completion of the Tribunal’s work and a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism.  Towards that end, he underlined the importance of international cooperation in apprehending remaining fugitives from the Rwanda Tribunal.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) welcomed the steps taken by the Tribunals to complete their work, which had contributed significantly to international criminal law and to ending impunity for grave crimes.  Noting the situation of the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, she encouraged it to take all appropriate measures to overcome its challenges and expedite decisions in the remaining cases.  As the Tribunal neared completion, accountability at the national level was of utmost importance.  She welcomed the cooperation of Balkan Governments with the Prosecutor, but shared concern over improper attempts to influence judicial authorities, as well as politicization of war crimes prosecutions.  She urged States to properly investigate and prosecute war crimes under their jurisdiction.  Welcoming progress by the Rwanda Tribunal and the Mechanism, she encouraged all States to help apprehend the remaining fugitives.  She also encouraged States to cooperate on relocations.  In conclusion, she urged support for the International Criminal Court to ensure the legacies of the Tribunals were built upon.

LI YONGSHENG (China), noting advances and challenges of both Tribunals, said that the repeated delays were not in the interest of justice.  Work must be organized properly and expedited in order to make the deadlines for completion.  Cooperation of regional States was necessary in that effort, including for the apprehension of outstanding fugitives and relocation of those who had served their sentences or had been acquitted.  Regarding the Residual Mechanism, he encouraged an effective and efficient transition, and the dissemination of lessons learned from both Tribunals to strengthen international justice.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, paid tribute to the Tribunals for their work in upholding international law and stemming impunity for grave crimes.  Acknowledging progress by both courts, he commended the former Yugoslavia Tribunal for efforts to expedite its work to overcome obstacles, while regretting past delays.  He welcomed the courts’ efforts to disseminate lessons learned from their work, as well as what he called the relatively smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism.  Expressing confidence that the Tribunals would carry out their remaining work efficiently in accordance with Council resolutions, he acknowledged cooperation of regional States in their work and underlined the need to exercise flexibility on the matter of deadlines.  He welcomed the commitment of the Presidents and Prosecutors to fulfil their obligations.

MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s successful completion of work would serve as a reminder to future generations that there was no impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, with the hope that such crimes would be prevented in the future.  At the same time, she expressed concern that the successful completion of the Tribunal’s mandate was jeopardized by the health conditions of several detainees, as well as staff attrition, which was causing significant delays in judicial proceedings.  Underlining the vital role of justice in building sustainable peace in post-conflict societies, she encouraged the Tribunal to undertake all possible measures implementing the best judicial practices to avoid further delays.

Bosnia and Herzegovina had signed the protocols on cooperation in the prosecution of war crimes with neighbouring countries to intensify cooperation in the investigation of war crimes and the protection of witnesses, with valuable results.  The country’s commitment to its obligation to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for war crimes remained unquestionable.  Tracing missing persons, exhumation and exchange of information about the victims had constituted a valuable part of the cooperation between the country and the Tribunal, whose legacy did not belong to the concerned countries but to all humanity.

VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said 20 years after the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was “beyond understanding” that those responsible for heinous crimes, including genocide in Srebrenica, had yet to receive judgments.  He urged that the trial of Mr. Hadžić restart as soon as possible, stressing that trial judgments in the cases of Mr. Mladić and Mr. Karadžić must not be further delayed.  A trial that resulted in a decision was an essential right of both the accused and the victims.  The trial of Vojislav Šešelj, indicted in 2003 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, had been anything but speedy and efficient.  He welcomed the 30 March decision to order the Trial Chamber to revoke Mr. Šešelj’s provisional release and expected the request for Mr. Šešelj’s return to custody to be respected.

Recognition of victims’ suffering was a prerequisite for reconciliation, he said, stressing that revisionism and denial of crimes, including genocide, were unacceptable.  Croatia had used its negotiations for European Union accession to develop its capacities for processing and taking to trial war crimes cases, and expected Union candidates from South-East Europe to do likewise.  He emphasized the contribution of both Tribunals to international jurisprudence on sexual violence.

SAŠA OBRADOVIĆ (Serbia) said the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had pioneered important efforts in establishing and further developing the standards of international criminal law, the fight against impunity, as well as in the attempt to bring a sense of justice to the victims of atrocities, which was not an easy task. Over the last 15 years, Serbia had made a significant contribution to those endeavours. Nevertheless, the Tribunal had rendered some controversial decisions, he said, noting in particular that in almost all major cases in which the victims had been groups or individuals of Serb ethnicity, the accused were acquitted. Yet the Government had never stopped cooperating and continued to fulfil its international obligations in good faith.

On the war crimes of the 1990s, he said Serbia was not confined to the process of cooperation with the Tribunal. Those crimes were investigated and tried domestically, as reported and welcomed by the Prosecutor. An action plan in line with the European Union negotiating framework was in the final stage of preparation, while the Ministry of Justice had set up a working group to draft an overarching national strategy on war crimes, which would be done in cooperation with independent international experts, including the Office of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor. So far, 175 individuals had been indicted, with 68 convicted. Another 51 accused were on trial in 16 cases, while four cases against 14 individuals were on appeal. All countries created out of the former Yugoslavia had an obligation to investigate and prosecute those who committed atrocities, without discrimination on the basis of national or ethnic origin of the perpetrator or the victim.

MABONEZA SANA (Rwanda), recalling last year’s commemorations of the twentieth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide and the establishment of the Rwanda Tribunal, affirmed that the court had played an important role in the fight against impunity for mass atrocities and had also produced a substantial body of jurisprudence, particularly on the crime of genocide.  He reiterated the importance of using terminology referring to the Tutsi as the target of the genocide, consistent with the Tribunal’s completion-strategy texts.  Reiterating also the call to all Member States, particularly those in the region, to collaborate in arresting the remaining fugitives, he hoped that Paul Murayi, the son-in-law of fugitive Paul Kabuga, would soon be included on the appropriate sanctions list for supporting the genocidal practices of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regarding the monitoring of four cases referred to national courts, he regretted that the report on the Tribunal did not provide enough details on their status.  Noting that two were well advanced, he expressed concern, however, over delays in the investigation of the two cases referred to France in 2007, namely, those of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta.  He called on the French authorities to expedite investigations and proceedings in both cases.  He also reiterated Rwanda’s view that the Tribunal archives should be located in Rwanda upon completion of the Residual Mechanism’s mandate, as they were integral to the country’s history.  Commending the work of the two international Tribunals, he expressed hope that “all legal proceedings will be completed very soon to enable the affected victims to turn a dark page of their history”.

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*     The 7454th Meeting was closed.

 

 

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