Statement by Helen Mulvein, Legal Counsellor, on the ICTY and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals
Thank you Mr President.
At the outset, I’d like to reiterate the United Kingdom’s continued support for, and commitment to, the work of the ICTY and the Mechanism. You are leading the fight against impunity, holding perpetrators to account, and achieving justice for victims. This is work which is sadly in great demand across the world today – in Syria, in Iraq, and so many other places.
We are pleased that the ICTY’s work remains on track as it heads towards closure next year. While we regret the Hadzic trial could not be completed, it is undeniable that progress has been made. The Stanisic & Zupljanin appeal has concluded, substantial steps have been taken towards completion of the Mladic trial, and the Prlic et al appeal continues to progress. Transition to the Mechanism also continues on schedule. We are grateful for the efficiency and downsizing measures which have taken place in order to achieve this.
And we were happy to support the amendment to the ICTY Statute enabling appointment of ad hoc Appeals Chamber judges. A necessary practical step on the Security Council’s side to enable the Tribunal to complete its work.
We recognise the difficulties caused by staff attrition and we appreciate the efforts made to counteract this. We hope staff will remain in their roles until the end of the mandate to complete the Tribunal’s work.
Cooperation with the ICTY by all States remains as important as ever. We welcome the continued cooperation between the Office of the ICTY Prosecutor and authorities of the States in the region. However, we are concerned that the political environment is having a negative impact on regional judicial cooperation, and we echo the Prosecutor’s call for urgent steps to mitigate and reverse this situation. We are particularly concerned that the arrest warrants for the three individuals in the contempt cases have still not been executed. We urge Serbia to meet its obligation to cooperate and surrender those individuals to the Tribunal.
Lack of agreement at a regional level to extradite war crimes suspects also severely hinders efforts to bring prosecutions for war crimes. This hampers reconciliation and could undermine the legacy of the ICTY.
Turning to the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, we are pleased that the ICTY has already implemented the recommendation on developing a code of professional conduct for judges. We believe all international tribunal judges should be subject to such codes. We also welcome the ICTY judges’ indication of willingness to accept a disciplinary mechanism and that they consider this desirable. We agree.
But, we think that it is too late in the Tribunal’s life to implement all the OIOS recommendations. That risks diverting resources from completing the core functions, and that must be the focus.
Finally on the ICTY, we welcome plans for legacy work and we will be supporting the ICTY Legacy Dialogues. Mr President, Turning to the Mechanism, we are pleased with its work in the last six months including on ensuring a smooth transition for the ICTY to the Mechanism.
Judicial work is proceeding efficiently, including on the Stanisic & Simatovic retrial and the Karadzic and Seselj appeals transferred from the ICTY.
We are concerned by the situation of Judge Akay, noting that the Secretary-General has asserted immunity but Turkey has disagreed with that position. We also note that there are ongoing legal proceedings before the Mechanism. We hope that an appropriate resolution can be found as quickly as possible.
It is important that all those indicted by the Rwanda Tribunal are apprehended and face trial before the Mechanism. We are grateful to the Prosecutor for his ongoing efforts to locate and arrest fugitives, and we call on all States to cooperate to that end. Equally, as in the former Yugoslavia, national prosecutions are essential to ensure justice for all victims for crimes committed in Rwanda. We thank the Prosecutor for his ongoing work in that respect and encourage cooperation from all relevant States.
We welcome the reduction in numbers of released and acquitted persons residing in Arusha, as well as the more efficient approach to the upkeep of those who remain there, and ongoing efforts regarding relocation. We hope to hear positive developments on that in due course.
Finally, we welcome the opening of the new premises of the Mechanism’s Arusha branch. The Mechanism has a vital role to play in the international criminal justice system, so let me close by emphasising our continued support again as it carries out the residual functions of the Yugoslavia and the Rwanda Tribunals.