State Cooperation Vital to Completing Work of War Tribunals

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2010 02:23 PM
State Cooperation Vital to Completing Work of UN War Tribunals, Security Council Told
New York, Dec 6 2010 5:10PM
The cooperation of States is vital in bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and in facilitating the successful completion of the United Nations tribunals mandated with this task, the Security Council was told today.
Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that Serbia’s failure to capture the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic, is a major concern.
“Serbia must bridge the gap between its stated commitment to the arrests and the effectiveness of its operations on the ground,” he the Council, as it met to consider the work of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
“Time is passing and we are not seeing results,” he stated. “Serbia needs to adopt a more pro-active approach to arresting fugitives.”
Since its inception 17 years ago, the Tribunal, which is based in The Hague, has indicted 161 persons for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The proceedings against 125 individuals have been completed. Only two indictees remain at large – Mladic and Hadžic.
The failure to arrest Mladic and Hadžic would leave the victims without redress, as well as impede reconciliation in the region and damage the credibility of the international legal system as a whole, said Mr. Brammertz.
He also cited the request made to Croatia for important military documents, as well as the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to redouble its efforts against fugitive networks.
In terms of expediting trials and completing its work, the President of the ICTY, Judge Patrick Robinson, highlighted the pressures placed on staff and resources at the Tribunal and called for action to reduce staff attrition
He explained that the Tribunal “continues to take all measures possible to expedite its trials, without sacrificing due process.”
However, he noted that the “judges have reported feeling extreme pressure to expedite the work of the Tribunal” and that “judges are entitled to work in an environment free from all external pressures, so that their independence is not compromised, or appear to be compromised.”
Judge Dennis Byron, President of the ICTR, also stressed the importance of State cooperation, noting that ten fugitives wanted by the Tribunal, which was created in 1994 in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, still remain at large.
“The Tribunal depends on the cooperation of Member States for the tracking, arrest and transfer of fugitives,” he stressed.
The Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, pointed out that the majority of the fugitives wanted by the ICTR have been located within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Despite his contacts with high-level officials, re-sent indictments and arrest warrants, and promises of support and cooperation from the DRC, there has been “little progress” on the matter.
“It is necessary that the Governments of the DRC, Kenya, Zimbabwe and neighbouring States intensify cooperation and search for the ten fugitives, all of whom, according to our sources, are within east, central and southern Africa,” he stated.
Mr. Jallow added that referrals of some key cases to national jurisdictions could possibly see the end of trials at the Tribunal, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, by the end of 2011.
In a related development, the ICTR today convicted Ildephonse Hategekimana, a former Rwandan army officer, of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison. Charges against the accused included rape and murder of ethnic Tutsis, all committed in the Ngoma region during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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