Justice essential for reconciliation: UN prosecutor

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Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), briefs the Security Council.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Justice for war crimes is an essential condition for reconciliation, the UN Security Council was told on Wednesday.

Ambassadors heard briefings from principals of tribunals established in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars and the Rwanda genocide more than two decades ago.

The Rwanda tribunal wrapped up in 2015 and the one for the former Yugoslavia concludes later this month.

Remaining cases are being handled by a legal structure known as the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).

Dianne Penn reports.

MICT Prosecutor Serge Brammertz looked back at the 24-year legacy of bringing to justice those responsible for "horrific violations" committed in the former Yugoslavia.

He hoped that it will be viewed as an important contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.

However, he said it was "hard to disagree" that the tribunal had not brought about reconciliation as the crimes "have left wounds that still have not healed."

Additionally, there is "no true will" within the region to accept the wrongdoings of the past and move forward, particularly among political leaders.

Too many, he said, listen to war criminals who insist that if they are to be judged guilty, then so should their entire community.

"The fact is that the crimes were not committed by nations or peoples but by individuals, and most of all by senior political and military leaders. So, let me be crystal clear on this point again: no community bears responsibility for what these men did. The guilt is theirs, and theirs alone. Justice should relieve a society from the weight of collective responsibility, paving the way for acceptance and understanding. That is why although justice alone will not achieve reconciliation, it is an essential condition."

With regards to Rwanda, Mr Brammertz said the UN Mechanism is focused on locating and arresting eight fugitives who remain at large.

Several new leads are being pursued, he added.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'33"

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