Jamaica commends work of tribunals

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General Assembly hall

The international criminal justice system — hailed by some as one of the greatest legal achievements of the past century — could never replace national mechanisms in building true bridges between former enemies.

That was stressed many delegates as the General Assembly concluded its unprecedented thematic debate on the link between global justice systems and reconciliation.

While many delegates expressed support for the international criminal justice system, including the International Criminal Court and the Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, a wide array of impassioned positions emerged as more than 30 speakers, including several post-conflict States with first-hand experience in reconciliation, addressed the Assembly. A number of speakers took issue with core elements of the international criminal justice system as it was currently understood, and emphasized the need to explore alternative mechanisms and strengthen national ownership over both justice and reconciliation efforts.

Jamaica's delegate Shorna-Kay Richards commended the tribunals for the neutral and impartial framework which they had established to protect one of the key foundations of fair trial proceedings: that of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. She said the tribunals had shown that political leaders of countries were not exempt or immune from being tried for the most heinous crimes. Indeed, she said, "the tribunals have tried persons from across the entire spectrum of national life, from presidents to generals to foot soldiers to civilians".

She said the special legacy of the tribunals was, therefore, that there was no impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

In particular, she congratulated both tribunals on their effective balancing of the need for expeditiousness in trial proceedings with the need to protect the rights of the accused and the interest of victims and witnesses, without whom the pursuit of justice would come to a grinding halt.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’50″

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