8416th Security Council Meeting: International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Preview Language:   English
11-Dec-2018 02:40:28
Delegates stress need for speedy, diligent, efficient completion of tasks as Security Council considers residual mechanism for criminal tribunals at 8416th meeting.

Available Languages: Six Official
Six Official
Other Formats
Delegates in a Security Council debate underlined today the importance of completing, expeditiously but diligently, the work of the mechanism created to carry out the remaining functions of the international criminal tribunals trying crimes committed in the territories of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

In the debate that followed briefings by the institution’s President and Prosecutor speakers highlighted ‑ in addition to the timely conclusion of cases taken over by the International Residual Mechanism for International Tribunals ‑ the importance of apprehending fugitives still at large, replacing judges in a timely manner, harmonizing procedures, resettling convicts released after serving their sentences, reconsidering the practice of early release for convicted individuals, and cementing the legacy of the tribunals in the effort to end impunity. Many delegates underlined their concern over recent denials of war crimes following the release of certain individuals from the former Yugoslavia.

Ahead of that debate, Theodor Meron, President of the Residual Mechanism, and Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor, briefed on its progress in the last six months, providing updates on the cases against Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic in The Hague, as well as pending cases in the new Abuja facility in Nigeria, where remaining cases from the Rwanda genocide are being adjudicated.

Judge Meron, noting that today’s appearance is his final one in his current capacity, said that during the reporting period, the Mechanism continued to make significant progress towards the completion of its mandate despite budgetary challenges, from providing vital assistance to national jurisdictions to methodically preserving archives to sustainably protecting victims and witnesses while enforcing sentences across two continents. He welcomed the Council’s efforts to ensure that the current vacancies on the Mechanism’s judicial roster are filled expeditiously. He expressed regret, however, that he will not see the conclusion of the Karadzic case during his term, that harmonization of the procedures applied in The Hague and Abuja, as well as resettlement arrangements, have not been completed, and that the early release of some individuals has caused concern for victims and communities. He nevertheless expressed pride that the Mechanism is passing on advances in international justice to future generations. Noting that he might be the last Holocaust survivor to address the Council, he said: “The Mechanism itself, as it carries forward the invaluable legacies of the ad hoc Tribunals, is a symbol of the lessons learned by past generations [in] respect for the rule of law, fundamental fairness and justice and adherence to the highest principles and to our obligations arising thereunder.”

Prosecutor Brammertz, providing further details of ongoing procedures, said the Mechanism has strengthened efforts to locate and arrest the remaining eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by restructuring the tracking team, adopting a more proactive approach and temporarily increasing resources. As for the former Yugoslavia, he said the Mechanism deeply regrets the glorification of war criminals and the denial of crimes, calling upon authorities in the western Balkans region to take concrete remedial steps.

Following the briefings, most Council members paid tribute to the outgoing President and to the entirety of the Mechanism’s work, while noting the remaining challenges. Most also urged greater cooperation on the part of Member States in apprehending fugitives still at large, with many others echoing the concern expressed by the two officials in relation to the negative effects of early release and to the denial of crimes by those released early.

The Russian Federation’s representative, however, said it appears that the Mechanism’s work has largely stalled, likening it to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in “the bleakest hour of its existence”. The regrettable shuffling of judges and “other chaos”, have roots in the poor handling of the Karadzic and Mladic cases, he added, calling for the latter’s transfer out of The Hague if the city cannot make adequate medical care available to him. He called upon the Mechanism to stop diverting resources to unassigned tasks and to complete its mandate in a more expeditious manner.

Following the remarks by Council members, Serbia’s Minister for Justice, alongside representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Rwanda, detailed their national cooperation with the Residual Mechanism and outlined their concerns.

Justice Minister Nela Kuburović of Serbia, expressing regret that the Mechanism has not provided answers to many important questions, called for allowing convicted Serbian nationals to serve the remainder of their sentences in their home country. In that regard, she pledged Serbia’s willingness to accept strict international monitoring, while guaranteeing that sentenced persons will not be released without a decision by the Mechanism.

The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, citing a significant backlog of war crimes cases under national jurisdiction, highlighted the need for better regional cooperation among national prosecutors.

Croatia’s representative, echoing the need for regional cooperation, said the Prosecutor should squarely focus on mandated cases and tasks in order to end delays. He also expressed deep concern over denial of past wrongdoing.

Rwanda’s representative said the recent early release of more than 2,000 inmates is evidence of her country’s choice to pursue restorative rather than retributive justice. Recommending the conditional early release of eligible convicts, alongside the creation of programmes to combat genocide and genocide denial, she also called for relevant convicts to serve the remainder of their sentences in Rwanda.

Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, United Kingdom, Sweden, Kazakhstan, France, Netherlands, Kuwait, China, United States, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Poland, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:46 p.m.

For further details please see:
Parent ID
Asset ID