"There must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes"
Statement on ICTY and ICTR completion strategy reports and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals assessment and progress report
Thank you Mr President.
I thank the Tribunals and Mechanism Presidents and Prosecutors for today’s presentations of their reports. The UK is fully committed to the principle that there must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes and we continue to support the Tribunals and the Mechanism in their work they do to tackle this.
On the ICTY, I would like to welcome President Agius in his new role and thank President Meron for his excellent work for the Tribunal in that capacity over the last four years.
We are pleased to note that transition to the Mechanism is going as planned. We do understand the challenges of staff attrition, but we we would hope that ICTY staff will see their roles through until the end of the mandate.
We are pleased that the trial judgment in the Mladic case is still on track, and we hope that that continues to be the case. It is disappointing that the Karadzic completion date has slipped but we understand the difficulties and we look forward to judgement in March. We note the update on Hadzic and we look forward to receiving more information on this.
We are disappointed to hear that the judgment in the Seselj case has slipped to early 2016. We agree with the Prosecutor’s Office that all efforts should be undertaken to expedite this and we note the commitment to a written judgement in the first quarter of 2016. We understand that it may be a challenge to meet the Prlic appeal projected time frame but we hope that that November 2017 date will be met and we are pleased that the two other outstanding appeals remain on track. We are looking forward to the judgement of one of those next week. We support the extension of the judge’s mandates to complete the outstanding work.
We have also noted the concerns of the Office of the Prosecutor with the pace and effectiveness of national war crimes prosecutions in Bosnia & Herzegovina. We agree the challenges can be overcome and we urge the Government to support these efforts.
We are also concerned that national war crimes prosecutions in Serbia are at a crucial point and we urge that Government to support these efforts too.
We once again support the Prosecutor’s call for the search for and exhumation of mass graves and the UK encourages regional governments to continue to support those efforts.
We are concerned by the President’s letter of 13 October regarding non-compliance by Serbia with the Tribunal in relation to three arrest warrants and orders for surrender. We note the Prosecutor’s report that cooperation is satisfactory in other respects, and we call on Serbia and indeed all States to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.
Turning to the ICTR, I would like to thank the Tribunal’s judges, prosecutors and staff for their hard work over the last 21 years in the pursuit of justice for the victims and survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We look forward to the final judgement in the Butare appeal next week.
Over the last 21 years there have been some notable developments and achievements. To name a few; the judgments recognising sexual violence as acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity have significantly contributed to the development of international criminal law. There was no legal aid system at the international level when the Tribunal commenced and they succeeded in developing a new system. There are many lessons to be learned from the ICTR and we encourage other Tribunals to profit from these and from publications such as their manual on best practices in the prosecution of sexual violence in crimes and their manual on tracking and arresting fugitives. The Tribunal leaves behind a great legacy.
We welcome the work done on preserving evidence for use in future trials, and we very much welcome the news today that one of the fugitives has just been arrested. We encourage full and prompt cooperation by all States with the Mechanism and the Rwandan Government to ensure the arrest of the remaining fugitives still at large. The arrest today shows that we must not give up with these continued efforts. We will ensure accountability no matter how long it takes.
Finally on the ICTR, we look forward to receiving the report of the International Organization for Migration’s assessment study on reparations for victims in due course and follow up on that.
Moving on to the Mechanism, we are pleased with its work in the last six months and indeed since its commencement. We particularly welcome the news that progress continues to be made on new permanent premises in Arusha and we would welcome an update in due course on the negotiations on the Hague branch premises.
We welcome the fact that recruitment of staff is proceeding well and that staff with relevant experience from the ICTY and the ICTR are being drawn upon.
The Council is currently conducting its first review of the Mechanism’s work, and there is good evidence that the Mechanism is functioning well. It has a vital role to play in the international criminal justice system and we have every confidence that it will carry out the residual functions appropriately in the future. In that respect we would also like to thank Chile for their leadership with the informal working group on international tribunals both as regards to review and in other respects over the last two years.
Let me close by thanking the ICTR once again for its service to international justice over the last 21 years. I had the honour to attend the closing ceremony events in Arusha which were a fitting way to mark the end of the Tribunal’s work. We wish all its judges, prosecutors and staff well as they move on to other things.
Thank you Mr President.
Published: 9 December 2015