Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Berger on International Tribunals
(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Berger in a Security Council meeting on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR))
I would like to express Germany’s full support for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and for their invaluable contribution to the fight against impunity for serious international crimes. We thank Presidents Meron and Vagn Joensen as well as the ICTY and ICTR Prosecutors for their most recent assessments and for the efforts undertaken to ensure a smooth transition to the International Residual Mechanism, as foreseen by Security Council Resolution 1966. And I also congratulate Judge Meron and Mr. Jallow for their respective appointments as President and Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism.
All 161 individuals indicted before the ICTY have been apprehended, and we very much welcome the anticipated conclusion of 32 of the remaining 35 trials in 2012. At the same time, we recognize the reasons that require the Hadžic, Mladic, and Karadžic trials to continue beyond 2012, not least because the accused make fullest use of their rights to defend themselves.
Germany was satisfied to see the commencement of the Mladic trial on 16 May. Within the multiple counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or customs of war of which both Mr. Karadžic and Mr. Mladic stand accused of, the 1995 massacre in Srebenica will stand out forever, both as a reminder of all the atrocities committed and as a warning for future generations. We are therefore grateful to the more than 300 witnesses in the case against Karadžic, and to the 387 witnesses the Prosecution intends to call in the Mladic case – their testimonies, often adding further hardship to the losses and sufferings already endured, are indispensable in fighting impunity both past and present.
States’ cooperation continues to be of crucial importance for the work of the Tribunals and for successful transition from the Tribunals to national war crimes prosecutions. Regarding the ICTY, we note with appreciation the prompt and adequate responses from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia to the ICTY’s requests for assistance, and we call upon them to maintain this approach in the future. At the same time, we note with concern the Prosecutor’s appraisal of a lack of results regarding Serbia’s stated commitment to investigate the networks that allowed some indicted fugitives to evade justice for many years. And we are similarly concerned about the delays encountered in the follow-up on investigative material transferred by the Prosecutor to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as by delays in war crimes prosecutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would also like to call upon the relevant authorities, notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to overcome remaining obstacles so that the proposed Protocol on the exchange of evidence and information in war crimes between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia can be signed.
Turning to the ICTR, we welcome the progress made in nearing completion of all trial work as foreseen in the Completion Strategy Report of 2011. Another positive development is the first ever transferral of an accused, Jean Uwinkindi, to the Republic of Rwanda for trial under rule 11bis., and the setting up of an adequate monitoring mechanism for such cases. Other cases have followed. We commend Rwanda for having strengthened its national legal system so as to allow the adjudication of cases transferred from the ICTR. Germany is confident that the newly launched video-link facility at the Rwandan Supreme Court in Kigali will contribute to the efficient and effective delivery of justice.
It remains a matter of concern, however, that nine accused and internationally sought persons still remain at large - among them the three most high ranking ones. We understand that in a number of these cases referral decisions have either been taken or are expected to be taken. The apprehension of these fugitives, who have been charged with genocide or complicity in genocide, must nonetheless be a priority. Unfortunately, no progress has been made in this matter since we last discussed this issue in November. We therefore once again call upon the International Community and in particular upon concerned States in the region to make sure that all possible efforts are made in order to bring these persons to justice.
As both the ICTY and ICTR are approaching the transition to the International Residual Mechanism, we note that preparations for a smooth handover are under way, and we recognize the challenges and practical difficulties encountered within this process. Some of these challenges are of a particular nature, such as the need to retain qualified staff to enable the tribunals to fulfil their functions until the last day. We appreciate the measures taken to alleviate this situation, such as the sharing of resources between both tribunals and the Residual Mechanism and the use of common administrative support services. We are also looking forward to the adoption of the Residual Mechanism’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence by the Judges, including a provision that ensures confidentiality for information provided by the ICRC. Germany is looking forward to extending its unwavering support for the ICTY and ICTR in an equal way to the Residual Mechanism.
I thank you.