OFFICIALS OF TRIBUNALS FOR RWANDA, FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL; DESCRIBE STRATEGIES FOR
CONCLUDING TRIALS BY 2008 DEADLINE
NEW YORK, 9 October (UN Headquarters) -- Officials of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda briefed the Security Council this afternoon on their work during the past year and on their strategies to implement the Council imposed deadline for completion of all trials by 2008 -- as well as possible difficulties with meeting that goal.
As the Council considered the annual reports of the two Tribunals, it was briefed by the Presidents and Prosecutors of both bodies. In August, the Council, through resolution 1503 (2003), had called on the Tribunals to take all possible measures to complete investigations by the end of 2004, to complete all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and to complete all work in 2010 (the completion strategies). By that resolution, the Council also split the prosecutorial duties for the Tribunals, which until then had been the responsibility of a single official.
Theodor Meron, President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, in the past year, the pace of the Tribunal’s activities had reached an all-time high, with its trial Chambers conducting between four and six trials simultaneously. As the Tribunal continued efforts to bring its work to completion in a timely and equitable manner, internal reforms designed to improve efficiency were being implemented. Efforts had also been undertaken to enable the Tribunal to refer certain mid- and lower-level offenders to a special war crimes chamber in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the region moved towards normality, he said, State courts should assume a major role in bringing offenders to account, if they meet international standards of due process and fairness.
He said the Tribunal would also keep striving for complete cooperation from all Member States, particularly those in the region, in order to ensure justice for the thousands and thousands of victims of the Yugoslav conflicts. The handing over of fugitives depended above all on the cooperation of the States of the former Yugoslavia. During the decade of its existence, he said in closing, the Tribunal had given victims a chance to see their sufferings recorded and, at least in some measure, vindicated, and had laid bare the consequences of ethnic and religious hatred. Through that, it had “thus made a fundamental and lasting contribution to bringing justice to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia”.
Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, told the Council it would not be possible to prosecute in The Hague, before the end of 2008, all the suspects and accused that would have been indicted by the Tribunal by the end of 2004. “I take this situation very seriously”, she said.
To manage it, she said decisions would be made on referring cases to national courts by the end of next year, and she would continue to help identify other methods to improve the efficiency of the Tribunal. She said that one key issue in timely completion was full cooperation of States in the region, and so she expressed regret that she had to report that Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Croat party to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina had not, so far, fully cooperated with the Tribunal regarding access to documents and witnesses, as well as arrests and the transfer of fugitives.
The President of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, Erik Møse, said there had been a 100 per cent increase in the number of accused tried during the Tribunal’s second mandate (1999-2003) over those tried during the first mandate (1995-1999). However, much work remained to be done. At present, 22 detainees awaited trial, and the Tribunal was anxious to begin those trials as soon as possible. For that reason, the Tribunal had requested the Council to increase the number of ad litem judges from four to nine, and to increase the competence of ad litem judges to do pre-trial work. Those changes were instrumental to the timely completion of the Tribunal’s mandate.
He said the Tribunal had experienced difficulties over the flow of witnesses from Rwanda in 2002, but was pleased to report that that situation had improved. For many months, there had been a steady flow of witnesses from Kigali to Arusha. The Tribunal wanted to maintain and develop a harmonious relationship, which would make it easier to contribute to reconciliation within Rwanda.
Hassan B. Jallow, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, said in efforts to achieve the goals of the completion strategy, he would be guided by the Statute, particularly with regard to selection for prosecution of those persons bearing the greatest responsibility for the tragedy that had occurred in Rwanda. He would review the caseload in order to determine which charges should be proceeded with and which transferred to national jurisdictions.
International cooperation from States remained a crucial factor in the successful conclusion of the strategy, he said. Several high-ranking military and political indictees remained at large. He would continue to search for them, and negotiate with States in which they resided for their surrender. Moreover, a policy of transferring appropriate cases to national jurisdictions could only succeed with the cooperation of States that were willing and able to dispense justice under conditions of due process and fair trial, he concluded.
Council members urged the officials to adhere to their completion strategy. When transferring cases to local jurisdictions, some speakers said, it must be ensured that a fair trial could be provided in accordance with international standards of due process. They called on all States concerned to cooperate to the fullest with the Tribunals in order to achieve justice and national reconciliation.
Rwanda’s representative, that country’s Prosecutor-General, said his Government was committed to seeking justice for victims of the 1994 genocide and to assist the Rwanda Tribunal achieve its mandate. Vital access to witnesses had been granted, all available evidence had been turned over to the court and, among other things, Rwanda continued to cooperate with the Tribunal’s efforts to locate fugitives and genocide suspects. He regretted that the valuable assistance given to the Tribunal often went unrecognized.
Turning to some of the Tribunal’s shortcomings, he stressed that the body was remote and had alienated Rwandan society, failing to have any significant impact at the grass-roots level. Its management organs also appeared to work as unrelated institutions lacking the necessary cohesion. Overall, the perception in Rwanda had been that the Tribunal had been “slow, inefficient and ineffective”.
The representative of Serbia and Montenegro took issue with some of the criticism regarding his country’s cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Giving examples of his country’s cooperation with the Tribunal, he said the Law on Cooperation with the Tribunal had been amended in accordance with the Tribunal Statute and all internal legal obstacles to full cooperation had thus been removed. He also listed seven indictees who had been transferred to the Tribunal, and said proceedings were under way for the transfer of another indictee.
He did not understand, therefore, why the Prosecutor seemed to be saying that voluntary surrenders of the accused, followed by their transfer to the Tribunal, were somehow of lesser value than arrests leading to the same transfers. The transfer of a former president, a former head of State security, and several army officers should not be qualified as a mere “assisting with some voluntary surrenders”. His Government was making efforts in various areas of cooperation. It was a process, he said, and to complete it successfully, his Government also needed constructive engagement and understanding of the Tribunal, especially the Prosecutor’s Office.
The representatives of Germany, France, Mexico, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, China, Cameroon, Pakistan and Guinea also spoke, as did the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, after which Tribunal officers responded to questions and comments.
The meeting, which started at 3:20 p.m., was adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the reports of two international criminal tribunals -- the International Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/58/140-S/2003/707) and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/58/297-S/2003/829).
The report of the Rwanda Tribunal covered the court’s work from July 2002 through June 2003. During that period, the Arusha-based Tribunal, which is responsible for trying cases stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide, conducted nine trials. Judgements have been delivered in three cases, involving four accused.
As a result, by 30 June 2003, 11 judgements involving 13 accused have been delivered since the Tribunal started its activities in 1995. Of those 13 accused, 12 have been convicted and one acquitted. In four trials involving eight accused, the presentation of evidence has been completed and closing arguments were scheduled to be heard this past July and August. Judgements in those four trials -- Cyangugu case; Kajelijeli case; Kamuhanda case, and Media case -- are expected by the end of the year, bringing the total number of judgements under the court’s second mandate to nine, involving 14 accused. According to the report, this was twice the number of accused tried under the first mandate (1995-1999).
At the operational level, Judge Erik Møse of Norway was elected President of the 16-judge panel this past May, and Judge Andresia Vaz of Senegal as Vice-President. The Tribunal’s judges are split between its three Chambers: three judges serve in each of its trial Chambers, and seven serve the Appeals Chamber; five of its seven members serve in the Appeals Chamber when it is sitting in review. As for the Office of the Prosecutor, during the period of review, Carla Del Ponte and her staff continued to investigate new cases, prepare cases for trial, and conduct appeals proceedings.
According to the report, the Office paid particular attention to refining the Tribunal's completion strategy, chiefly regarding the prosecution of those bearing the highest responsibility for war crimes. In that context, it has continuously refined the targets of its current and projected investigations with the aim of fulfilling the Tribunal’s mandate. If the Prosecution receives the proper cooperation, particularly from the States concerned, it expects to finalize the remaining investigations by the end of 2004, and to present all new indictments for confirmation by 2005.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Registrar continued to undertake important missions to help ensure the full cooperation of States whenever required, and to obtain their support and improve the visibility of the Tribunal. In 2002, the Registrar visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the Congo. In seeking the support of States, the Registrar visited various capitals, including Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Kigali, The Hague and Geneva. The official emphasized his support for the United States Government’s Rewards for Justice Programme.
The report of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia covers the period from 1 August 2002 to 31 July 2003. It notes that the pace of the Tribunal’s activities had reached an all-time high. While holding six trials simultaneously, the Tribunal had examined 29 merits cases (as well as three cases of contempt); rendered four final judgements; continued the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, former head of State of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; and received an increasing number of guilty pleas, including from Biljana Plavsic, former co-President of the Republika Srpska. The Appeals Chamber also disposed of a greater number of appeals than in years past.
Carrying out its mission with full vigour, the Tribunal pressed ahead with internal reforms designed to improve the efficiency of its proceedings and bring its efforts to an orderly close, states the report. Notably, Security Council resolution 1481 (2003) had amended the Tribunal’s Statute to permit ad litem judges to do pre-trial work, in addition to participating in the trials to which they were assigned. Additionally, the Tribunal had reached an agreement with the Office of the United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the establishment of a special chamber for war crimes prosecutions in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would constitute a major element in the Tribunal’s completion strategy. The Tribunal should begin transferring some cases of mid- and lower-level accused by the end of 2004 or 2005.
The Tribunal, currently made up of a total of 24 judges from 23 nations, including 16 permanent and eight ad litem judges, continues the report, held two regular and two extraordinary plenary sessions to amend the Rules of Procedure and Evidence to: clarify the standards for referral of cases to competent national courts; permit the replacement of a judge in certain cases of judicial disability even without the consent of the accused when the interests of justice so warranted; and to give the Trial Chambers greater power to limit the quantity of information provided by the Prosecution. An Association of Defence Counsel, to which all attorneys representing accused persons at the Tribunal must belong, had also been established. They were now subject to a code of professional conduct and a disciplinary system.
However, the report also notes that while the Serbian Government’s law enforcement efforts, invigorated in the wake of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic’s assassination on 11 March 2003, had led to the arrest and transfer to the Tribunal of several important accused, nearly 20 indictees, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, remain at large.
By resolution 1503, adopted on 28 August (see Press Release SC/7859), the Council split the prosecutorial duties for the criminal Tribunals, which up till then had been the responsibility of a single official. The Secretary-General had nominated Carla Del Ponte as Prosecutor of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, while prosecutorial duties for the Rwanda Tribunal would be assumed by the current Deputy Prosecutor.
By that same resolution, the Council had also outlined the timetable for the completion of the courts’ work. It called on the Tribunals to take all possible measures to complete investigations by the end of 2004, to complete all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and to complete all work in 2010 (the completion strategies).
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, in the past year, the pace of the Tribunal’s activities had reached an all-time high, with morning and afternoon sessions in its three courtrooms and its trial Chambers conducting between four and six trials simultaneously.
During the year, 29 merits cases, along with three cases of contempt, were examined and four judgements on the merits or sentencing judgements were rendered. On the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, he stressed that the defendant’s health had caused a great many delays, further complicating already extraordinarily complex case. The proceedings had brought together three separate indictments -- for Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina -- with 66 counts, hundreds of witnesses and thousands of documents that had to be translated. But, the Prosecution’s case was coming to a close soon, and the timetable for the defence case was currently being set.
He said that the Appeals Chamber had also disposed of a greater number of appeals than in years past, adding that an increasing number of defendants had decided to plead guilty, express remorse for their crimes, and offer assistance to the Prosecution in their respective cases.
As he and the Tribunal’s other top officials continued their efforts to bring its work to completion in a timely and equitable manner, they continued to implement internal reforms designed to improve efficiency, he said. The most important of those was the removal of the ban on ad litem judges adjudicating in pre-trial matters. The officials had also pressed ahead with efforts to enable the Tribunal to refer certain mid- and lower-level offenders to a special war crimes chamber in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the region moved towards normality, he said, State courts should assume a major role in bringing offenders to account, if they meet international standards of due process and fairness.
He said that even more changes were necessary to further improve the Tribunal’s efficiency. The Court’s top officials also planned to move full speed ahead with efforts to help establish national courts in the region that would be capable of hearing war crimes and genocide cases without any taint of ethnic, religious or national prejudice. They would also step up their efforts to ensure that the peoples of the former Yugoslavia were provided with a balanced and honest account of the Tribunal’s work.
He said the Tribunal would also keep striving for complete cooperation from all Member States, particularly those in the region, in order to ensure justice for the thousands and thousands of victims of the Yugoslav conflicts who had lost their lives, property and whose physical and emotional well-being had been damaged.
He stressed that while the Tribunal was striving in every way to adhere to its completion strategy, with all trials set to end in 2008 and all appeals by 2010, the completion date of judicial proceedings could not be predicted with “scientific accuracy”. Some factors were in the Court’s control and others were not, and while he was happy to report that the Tribunal should be able to complete the trials of all individuals currently in custody by the 2008 deadline, difficulties in ensuring that fugitives were turned over to the Court might hamper prosecution of some other cases.
The handing over of fugitives depended above all on the cooperation of the States of the former Yugoslavia, he said, calling on the Assembly to press regional authorities to fully and promptly cooperate with the Tribunal’s work. While on a recent trip to Belgrade, he had been encouraged by an emerging spirit of cooperation with the Tribunal and its goals. Much remained to be achieved, however, on the arrests of fugitives, access to evidence and facilitation of witness testimony, especially by present and former officials. Another factor in the completion schedule was the number of cases transferred to the Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber, which, he said, depended on how quickly the Chamber became operational.
While current projections revealed that it would not be possible to accommodate any new indictments in the Tribunal within the current timetable, strict adherence to targets must not result in impunity, particularly for the most senior leaders. Once legal processes had been started, they would be followed through, and speed of trial cannot be purchased at the expense of due process. Still, he stressed that fugitives, particularly Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, must be tried or the mission of the Court would not be complete.
During the decade of its existence, he said in closing, the Tribunal had given victims a chance to see their sufferings recorded and, at least in some measure, vindicated, and had laid bare the consequences of ethnic and religious hatred. Through that, it had “thus made a fundamental and lasting contribution to bringing justice to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia”.
ERIK MØSE, President of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, said that in 2003 three judgements involving four accused had been handed down and another four judgements involving eight accused were expected by the end of the year, or very early next year. That reflected a 100 per cent increase in the number of accused tried during the Tribunal’s second mandate (1999-2003) over those tried during the first mandate (1995-1999). The Tribunal would soon have rendered 15 judgements involving 21 accused since the first trials started in January 1997. Moreover, the Butare and Military trials, involving a total of 10 accused, which had begun under the second mandate, continued. That brought the total number of those whose trials had been completed or were in progress to 31.
The four new trials involving 10 accused, which had begun during the second half of 2003, were a direct consequence of Council resolution 1431 (2003) which allowed for a pool of 18 ad litem judges, he added. The first ad litem judge had taken up his office on 1 September, and the others would arrive in Arusha within a couple of weeks. However, much work remained to be done. At present, 22 detainees awaited trial, and the Tribunal was anxious to begin those trials as soon as possible. For that reason, the Tribunal had requested the Council to increase the number of ad litem judges from four to nine. That would increase the capacity of the Tribunal from four to six permanent Trial Chamber sections. Another significant reform would be to increase the competence of ad litem judges to do pre-trial work. Those changes were instrumental to the timely completion of the Tribunal’s mandate.
The Tribunal had made the elaboration of a completion strategy its priority during its third mandate, he continued, a revised version of which had been sent to the Council. In the completion strategy, it was estimated that, with the four ad litem judges, the Tribunal would be in a position to finalize all ongoing trials, as well the cases involving the 22 detainees, by 2007. However, only eight accused -- out of 16 indictees and 26 suspects still at large -- could be brought to trial by the end of 2008 deadline. Yet, the increase of ad litem judges proposed by the Tribunal would place it in a better position to finalize most trials by the 2008 deadline, in spite of unforeseen delays.
At present, the total number of persons brought before the Tribunal was 63. With nine ad litem judges, the Tribunal would be able to hear trials of a higher number by 2009. Much depended on the number of indictments that would be drawn up. He considered it, however, impossible, within the target date, to hear trials involving another 42 persons. It would be an important task to single out the leaders for further prosecution by the Tribunal and transfer cases involving intermediate- and lower-rank accused to national jurisdiction, as required by Council resolution 1503 (2003).
Noting that, by that same resolution, the Council had established a separate Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal, he thanked Carla Del Ponte, the previous Prosecutor, for her great contributions and welcomed the new Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow. Turning to reforms intended to increase the efficiency of the Tribunal, he said that the establishment of the “New Trial Committee” had facilitated the commencement of four new trials. Moreover, during the trials, time had been saved by the simultaneous translation from Kinyarwanda into English and French in all Trial Chambers. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence allowing for a trial to continue with a substitute judge when the first judge fell ill, died, resigned or was not re-elected, and to facilitate plea agreements in cases where the accused pled guilty, had also increased the Tribunal’s efficiency.
The Tribunal had experienced difficulties over the flow of witnesses from Rwanda in 2002. He was pleased to report that that situation had improved. For many months, there had been a steady flow of witnesses from Kigali to Arusha. The Tribunal wanted to maintain and develop a harmonious relationship, which would make it easier to contribute to reconciliation within Rwanda. He concluded by assuring the Council that the Tribunal would continue to develop its working methods, in order to further increase efficiency.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, explained her plans to implement the completion strategy of the Tribunal. All necessary measures were being taken to ensure the completion of all remaining investigations by 2004, by which date she was confident that the remaining senior leaders would have been indicted.
Regarding the 13 “top priority” investigations that must be completed before the mandate could be said to be implemented, she said that it was possible that not all of them would result in new indictments. Even if they did, they would lead to only nine additional trials of the approximately 30 individual suspects, because some could be joined with other future trials.
There were also, she said, 17 other investigations, involving 62 suspects, suspended last year as a result of her decision to focus solely on the most senior perpetrators. She expected those cases to be referred to domestic courts. The great attention devoted to such referrals demonstrated a general concern that no impunity should be tolerated.
Including ongoing trials, she said that there could be between 40 and 45 trials total that were supposed to be completed by the Tribunal by 2008. She shared the estimates of the President’s report regarding the dates for the completion strategy -- it would not be possible to prosecute in The Hague, before the end of 2008, all the suspects and accused that would have been indicted by the Tribunal by the end of 2004. “I take this situation very seriously”, she said.
To manage it, decisions could be made by the end of next year on which cases could responsibly be referred back to domestic jurisdictions in accordance with the Tribunal’s rules, she said. In the meantime, in relation to the cases remaining in The Hague, she would continue to help identify other methods to improve the efficiency of the Tribunal.
A key issue related to the success of the completion strategy was full cooperation by the States of the former Yugoslavia, she said. She expressed regret, however, that she had to report that Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Croat party to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not, so far, fully cooperated with the Tribunal regarding access to documents and witnesses, as well as arrests and transfer of fugitives.
In the case of Croatia, requests were being taken seriously after many delays, but Croatian authorities were responsible for the failure to arrest and transfer General Ante Gotovina. At the same time, cooperation with Belgrade remained very difficult and heavily politicized. There was no true commitment for cooperation or readiness to take difficult steps, and she said she had reason to believe that well over half of the remaining high-level fugitives resided in Serbia and Montenegro, including Ratko Mladic.
Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, she said that the authorities of the Republic Srpska had still not arrested a single indicted fugitive and it appeared that there were still influential elements there that were actively protecting war crimes suspects. Finally, she had received little cooperation from Bosnian Croat authorities in cases involving Bosnian Croat perpetrators.
She expressed concern that the 2004 deadline for completion might encourage States in the region to buy time by putting additional obstacles in the way of cooperation with the Tribunal. That factor could endanger, in turn, the completion strategy, as could the inability of the countries of the former Yugoslavia to prosecute lower-level perpetrators themselves.
For that reason, she placed importance on the donors conference for the War Crimes Chamber in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she also expressed hope that the international community would help all States in the region to make the relevant changes in domestic legislation. However, cooperation between the States was also needed, in terms of bilateral legal assistance, protection of witnesses and evidence, and mutual agreements on the extradition of accused persons.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, said the process of international criminal justice was difficult. But, it was a process that could, and must, be undertaken in order to end impunity. There had been a substantial learning experience, which should provide foundation for the next and crucial phase of the Tribunal. Focus should be on proper and effective implementation of the completion strategy. In that respect, he said he would be guided by the Statute, particularly with regard to selection for prosecution of those persons bearing the greatest responsibility for the tragedy that had occurred in Rwanda. He would review the caseload in order to determine which charges should be proceeded with and which transferred to national jurisdictions.
There were currently four trials in progress involving 12 accused. The Tribunal planned to commence two additional trials, involving four accused each, on 3 November. Those were “government cases”, which would bring to the dock a large number of political leaders of cabinet rank who were responsible for the planning of the genocide, he said.
The Office of the Prosecutor would deploy greater effort to use the Rules of Procedure and Evidence aimed at shortening trials. It would also constantly review witnesses in order to avoid duplicating testimony of previous witnesses. Regarding the other accused currently in detention at the United Nations Detention Facility in Arusha, he said the Office was ready to proceed with trials in six cases involving nine accused in the first quarter of 2004. Another seven cases, each with a single accused, could be ready for trial in the second quarter of 2004. In order to proceed on schedule, however, there was a need to increase the number of ad litem judges from four to nine and to increase the competence of those judges.
In line with the strategy to concentrate on the prosecution and trial of the most senior leaders most responsible for the crimes under jurisdiction of the Tribunal, he said he had started to review cases of each awaiting-trial accused in order to determine whether indictments against them should be suspended and referred to other jurisdictions. The review would also assess the relative strength of each case. It was possible that that process would reduce the number of those awaiting trial from the current 21 accused. His Office was now more open to accepting guilty pleas, as a result of plea bargains.
Investigations were currently ongoing against 26 new targets, he said. His Office was weighing the strength of the available evidence in order to close some files or transfer jurisdiction. Some of the targeted suspects might not be reached for reasons of death or other reasons, and some might be jointly charged and tried. It was, therefore, reasonable to assume that the final number of indictments in that category would be lower than the 26 projected. Whilst the Tribunal had formulated a well considered completion strategy in line with the Council’s request, the full extent of its workload would become clearer in the few months ahead, he said.
International cooperation from States remained a crucial factor in the successful conclusion of the strategy, he said. Several high-ranking military and political indictees remained at large. He would continue to search for them, and negotiate with States in which they resided for their surrender. Planning was based on the assumption that States where fugitives were found would cooperate fully. A policy of transferring appropriate cases to national jurisdictions could only succeed with the cooperation of States that were willing and able to dispense justice under conditions of due process and fair trial, he concluded.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) remarked that there were various types of institutions in the international criminal justice area, such as the ad hoc tribunals, mixed tribunals -- such as in Sierra Leone -- national tribunals and the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was not clear that the work of the ad hoc tribunals could be completed within the set time-frame. They were also very cost-intensive. The completion strategy must be adhered to as much as possible. More ad litem judges might be needed and increased pressure for cooperation with the court was also necessary. It was a scandal that Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic were still at large. The devolution of cases to national courts should be promoted, where possible.
He said he had earlier proposed that the Council encourage various actors of international justice to cross-fertilize and set up an expert group to assess the performance of the various actors. The Council should also take into account that it could now depend on the ICC.
Noting the establishment of a Special War Crimes Chamber in the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Court, which would contribute to the completion strategy of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he asked what the prospects were for a comparable process in Croatia or in Serbia and Montenegro. He also asked, regarding the Rwanda Tribunal which had handed over 40 Rwandan cases to traditional authorities, if an even-broader process in that regard would be possible.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said he was satisfied that the institutions were functioning efficiently. He recognized the difficulties they faced in seeking to satisfactorily complete their cases. The Council should, therefore, consider their recommendations. Regarding the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he had stressed that full cooperation by all States with the Tribunal was not only an essential requirement to achieve goals of the completion strategy, but it was also important for the maintenance of peace and security in the region, for ending impunity and for national reconciliation. He welcomed, therefore, the cooperation in the Balkan States in apprehending accused persons. The States should, however, provide greater cooperation, to bring to justice all persons indicted.
He congratulated the President of the Rwanda Tribunal with progress made in efficiency. The Council should consider the proposal to authorize the use of nine ad litem judges at any given moment. Regarding investigations begun by Ms. Del Ponte against the Rwandan Patriotic Army, he asked how the current Prosecutor intended to continue those investigations and how that was reflected in the completion strategy. There would be no possibility for national reconciliation if the same treatment was not given to all perpetrators. The completion strategy had brought to the fore the importance and complementarity of national justice systems. However, the capacity of national courts was critical. The necessary resources must be available for strengthening an independent judicial system in post-conflict situations.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said it was important for each of the participants involved in the Tribunal, including justices, the entire international community, and regional States, to perform their proper roles in the completion strategy. He asked whether there were plans for specific mechanisms to follow the implementation of the completion strategy, and if procedures were going to be set to deal with any difficulties that might arise.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that the international community needed to give every possible support to the Tribunal, including assisting in the apprehension of fugitives, especially those at the high level. It was clear that some of those fugitives had been protected in the past by authorities of certain States. He hoped that measures would be taken to prevent the continuation of such activities.
He asked for a clarification of roles of prosecutors as mentioned by Judge Meron. He welcomed the balance of priorities that had been presented by the briefers, that is, reform balanced by an overriding concern for due process. He stressed that the timetable for completion should be respected, and welcomed efforts to refer cases to national courts in that effort.
SERGEY KAREV (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction that the leadership of the Tribunals had tried to correct their organizational problems. He agreed with the proposal of the President of the Rwandan Tribunal that methods should be found for greater use of ad litem justices; and that lower-level cases in the former Yugoslavia should be referred to national courts, as appropriate. He asked whether the Tribunal was performing concrete work in the Balkan States, other than Bosnia and Herzegovina, to prepare them to take on such tasks.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he had full confidence in the judges and Prosecutors of the two Tribunals. Resolution 1503 requested the Tribunals to enhance their efficiency and establish a completion strategy. That resolution also requested the Tribunals to focus on those persons who held the highest responsibilities and consider transferring other cases to domestic jurisdiction. He had noted that the judges and Prosecutors had mentioned measures they had taken to achieve their completion strategy. The Council would seriously consider their proposals. He hoped the two Tribunals would get full cooperation from the countries concerned.
He asked if the Rwanda Tribunal could guarantee it would complete all trials in the requested time-frame if ad litem judges were increased from four to nine, and if some cases were transferred to domestic jurisdiction. He also asked if alternative options were available if difficulties were encountered in transferring cases.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon), noting progress made, said such progress was the result of external and internal reforms. The Yugoslavia Tribunal had moved forward in an unprecedented manner. As the reports had emphasized that cooperation of States was vital for success of the completion strategies, he called for strengthening of such cooperation. Regular exchanges of view between the two Tribunals were also necessary for achieving their completion goals. The capacity of the Rwanda Tribunal had to be strengthened through increase in the number of ad litem judges.
He asked for more information about implementing the Rwanda Tribunal completion strategy and what assistance was necessary. He had noted that the Prosecutor would end investigations by the end of 2004, and asked what the implications of such a decision were for the Special Chamber for War Crimes.
SOHAIL MAHMOOD (Pakistan) stressed the importance of the cooperation of all concerned in bringing to justice those suspected of war crimes, in order to end impunity and ensure respect for international law. He asked what steps could be taken to ensure greater cooperation with Tribunals.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said that reforms have improved conditions for the Rwanda Tribunal to accomplish its mission within the timetable that had been set. However, the Tribunal should arrive at a detailed strategy in order to defer to national jurisdictions persons of lower rank.
He endorsed the recommendations made by the President of the Rwanda Tribunal and supported greater use of ad litem judges. He called on the Secretary-General, as soon as possible, to appoint the remaining three such judges. He asked whether the Tribunal would really be able to finish its work on time, and asked for support for building capacity in Rwanda’s judicial system so that referrals of lower-level cases could be made to it. He also asked for cooperation from States in the region in apprehending fugitives.
MIRZA KUSLJUGIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said his country fully supported the Yugoslavia Tribunal activities and was committed to fulfilling its obligations related to the Tribunal, as it played an important role in the process of inter-ethnic reconciliation by individualizing war crimes. In the period under review, the process of restructuring the Bosnian court system at all levels had made much progress, and the Tribunal should be able to begin transferring some cases of mid-and low-level accused by the end of next year.
He said his country expected the Tribunal to take all possible measures to complete investigations by the end of 2004, all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and to complete all work in 2010. In that effort, the country was fully committed to fulfilling all its obligations and ready to cooperate with authorities of the other countries in the region in apprehending all remaining-at-large persons indicted by the Tribunal.
He expressed hope that the international community would assist national jurisdiction as part of the completion strategy by improving capacity to prosecute cases transferred from the Tribunal. He also expected that the Tribunal would develop and improve its outreach programmes. Finally, he underlined that the war criminals who were still at large, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, presented a source of continuing instability and must be brought to justice.
GERALD GAHIMA (Rwanda), that country’s Prosecutor-General, thanked the Council for the recent decision to appoint a separate Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal, a change which his Government had long advocated. He said his Government was committed to seeking justice for victims of the 1994 genocide, particularly as far as the senior government, military and civic leaders who planned and oversaw those horrible events were concerned. To assist the Rwanda Tribunal achieve its mandate, all judicial, law enforcement, central and local government entities had been instructed to assist the Tribunal in its work. Therefore, vital access to witnesses had been granted, all available evidence had been turned over to the court and, among other things, Rwanda continued to cooperate with the Tribunal’s efforts to locate fugitives and genocide suspects.
As the Tribunal began to focus on its completion strategy, it should be recognized that the people of Rwanda were stakeholders in the institutional work. In that regard, he regretted that the valuable assistance which Rwanda’s government institutions and private citizens had given the Tribunal often went unrecognized, or was under-appreciated. Turning to some of the Tribunal’s shortcomings, he stressed that the body was remote and had alienated Rwandan society, failing to have any significant impact at the grass-roots level. Its management organs also appeared to work as unrelated institutions lacking the necessary cohesion.
He went on to say that, among other things, over the years, the Prosecutor’s Office had failed to create an effective and credible witness protection programme and had neglected to address other pertinent concerns of victims and witnesses. The Tribunal had also hired perpetrators of genocide, and close relatives and friends of suspects as defence investigators and legal assistants, who, in turn, threatened genocide survivors and prosecution witnesses. He also said the Prosecutor’s Office had failed to indict and apprehend large numbers of known genocide suspects, and had failed to come up with a realistic completion strategy. Overall, the perception in Rwanda had been that despite the Tribunal’s vast resources, it had thus far been “slow, inefficient and ineffective”,
But there had been some progress, he continued, citing the Security Council’s recent decision to appoint a separate prosecutor for the Tribunal, as well as the appointment of ad litem judges, and the initiatives by the Tribunal’s President to expedite the pace of trials and promote effective functioning of the Tribunal. Rwanda, like much of the international community, believed and hoped that the Tribunal’s new leadership offered a window of opportunity for addressing the problems that had plagued its past operation and set the body on a course towards justice that would leave a legacy the world could be proud of.
Calling upon the Council to continue its efforts to make the Tribunal more effective, he recommended that there should be greater consultations between all stakeholders concerned, and also, among other things, that the completion strategy urgently address the large numbers of genocide suspects not yet indicted who remained at large outside Rwanda. He said the strategy should address financial implications of the transfer of cases to Rwanda, and make suggestions as to how financial assistance for Rwanda could be raised.
He recommended that the Tribunal should undertake a credible and substantial outreach programme to bridge the gap between it and Rwandan society. At least some hearings should be conducted in Rwanda, he added. On the court’s hiring of persons suspected of having ties to suspected war criminals, he recommended the appointment of an independent commission to investigate and urgently report on the presence of such persons, to ensure that indicted war criminals and their friends and relatives did not continue to be unjustly enriched. He also called for the establishment of an effective witness protection programme. He requested closer cooperation between Tribunal personnel with Rwandan prosecution and investigation authorities, and greater use of Rwandan professionals within the Tribunal.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said he appreciated Judge Meron’s assessment that cooperation between his country and the Tribunal had improved, although he was aware that much more needed to be done. He agreed with some issues from the statement by Ms. Del Ponte and disagreed with some others. He reiterated his Government’s position that the individual responsibility of all perpetrators of war crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia should be established in proceedings both before the Yugoslavia Tribunal and national courts.
Giving an update of his country’s cooperation with the Tribunal since the matter was last debated before the Council, he said the Law on Cooperation with the Tribunal had been amended in accordance with the Tribunal Statute. Article 39, preventing the surrender of any accused indicted by the Tribunal after the passage of that Law, had been deleted. All internal legal obstacles to full cooperation had thus been removed. He also listed seven indictees who had been transferred to the Tribunal. Proceedings were under way for the transfer of another indictee.
He did not understand, therefore, why the Prosecutor seemed to be saying that voluntary surrenders of the accused, followed by their transfer to the Tribunal, were somehow of lesser value than arrests leading to the same transfers. The transfer of a former president, a former head of State security, and several army officers should not be qualified as a mere “assisting with some voluntary surrenders”. They had been the result of decisive efforts by the authorities. He also described other measures taken by his Government to cooperate with the Tribunal.
Regarding a decision of the Trial Chamber granting the Prosecution’s request for a binding order requiring Serbia and Montenegro to produce certain documents in connection with the Milosevic case, he said his country had complied with that request, which was related only to documents of the Supreme Defence Council. However, a decision of the same Chamber had rejected a request of the Prosecution for general access to State archives. It was, therefore, the Chamber itself, and not his Government, who had limited that kind of general access to the Prosecutor. His Government was making efforts in various areas of cooperation. It was a process, he said, and to complete it successfully, his Government also needed constructive engagement and understanding of the Tribunal, especially the Prosecutor’s Office.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) re-emphasized his country’s commitment to assisting the completion of the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s work. At the same time, he said there was room for improvement in its practices. As far as the evaluation of cooperation of States with the Tribunal was concerned, it must be based on proven facts beyond reasonable doubt. There were no outstanding issues between his country and the Tribunal, except for the Gotovina case, in which Croatia kept the Office of the Prosecutor constantly updated and had provided the required reports.
He was disappointed with connotation made in the report that the case of Ante Gotovina should be equated with that of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. He stressed also that arrests were the responsibility of the entire international community. He supported respect for the timeline of the completion strategy and the strengthening of national judiciary systems. The Croatian court system had already initiated several relevant cases and was communicating with the Tribunal on those.
Reaffirming his country’s determination to continue its cooperation with the Tribunal, he said that it was important to go beyond the mere letter of the law. The Tribunal must administer the law, he said, but it must also be just, so new reasons for discontent did not arise.
Judge MERON, President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, responding to a question regarding prospects for devolution of cases to Belgrade and Zagreb, said war crimes trials had the greatest resonance when taking place close to the area where the crimes had been committed. However, one must be satisfied that the courts in a particular State conformed fully to international standards of process and respect for human rights. He had visited the venue of the new Special Chamber for War Crimes in Belgrade, and was of the opinion that the Chamber would have quite a few candidates for trial. The Prosecutor had said that in 62 cases she did not intend to indict, and those should be tried in the various courts of the former Yugoslavia. Zagreb did not have a special chamber, but there had been significant developments regarding the law on war crimes in Croatia. As the situation in the former Yugoslavia approached more normality, the Court would be reviewing the data and identify additional candidates for transfer.
Responding to a related question, he said the Tribunal was only one of the international institutions involved in legal assistance to countries of the area. Serbia and Montenegro had been aided by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Bar Association.
As for reaching the goals of the completion strategy, he said a number of committees had been established to address the issue. The bodies already in place, such as the Rules Committee and the Coordination Committee, also dealt with the question on a daily basis.
Referring to a comment made by the representative of the United Kingdom regarding the Council’s directive that the Prosecutor complete by 2004 all investigations, he said that directive was one for the Prosecutor, and it was the responsibility of the Council and the Prosecutor to interpret those directives in good faith. It was appropriate for the Council to define broad goals and directives, but it would not be appropriate if the Council went into great detail. In order to achieve the goals of the completion strategy, necessary structural changes were being studied, he said in conclusion.
Judge MØSE, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, responding to other questions, said it was too early to know how many of the cases to be transferred to national courts would actually be so transferred. The Chambers had not yet officially been requested under the rule; when that process had started, the question could be answered. What was clear was that when cases were referred, assistance was needed to increase the capacity of those courts.
Each of the Tribunals must analyse the responsibilities within their completion strategies, he said, and each of the branches must make its own assessment. It was difficult to provide a more detailed completion strategy; it must be an ongoing process. Would the ad litem justices guarantee a timely completion? He could only say that it was impossible without them. Finally, exchange of ideas between the two Tribunals was a good idea, but it had to be put into a practical context.
Ms. DEL PONTE, Yugoslavia Tribunal Prosecutor, asked the Council to maintain attention on the completion strategy of the Tribunal at this crucial point in time. She reiterated the importance of national courts taking on certain cases and she said there was much useful cooperation with the courts of the States of the former Yugoslavia. When the Tribunal completed its investigations, it would be able to be more specific about the actual cases to be referred.
Mr. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, said the 40 cases referred to by the representative of Germany were not cases that had already been transferred. They were only earmarked for transfer, either to Rwanda or to other countries. The list had yet to be finalized. Also, conditions for transfer had to be worked out and an assessment had to be made whether the countries concerned could provide fair trials. If there was a lack of capacity, assistance might be necessary. Among the 26 targets for investigation were some members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, he answered to another question.
Whether a combination of the completion strategy and transfer would lead to achieving the set goals was a difficult question to answer, as the process was not easily predictable, he said. However, if additional ad litem judges were not available, cases that had been prepared could not be started. If ad litem judges were assigned, however, he was confident that target dates could be met.
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